Asynchronous and Parallel PHP and Laravel

Asynchronous and Parallel PHP and Laravel

Web development, and specifically the applications created, need to be responsive. End users do not want to wait for an app or website to load.

If the response time is slow, it will lead to user abandonment and potential profit losses.

Quick responses require asynchronous development.

But there is also some debate on whether the PHP development company should use parallelism or asynchronous development practices.

Parallelism vs Asynchronous Design

Parallelism and asynchronous are two very different things. When a parallel design is in place, this means that:

  • Multiple tasks are running at the same time
  • Tasks run independently

But asynchronous design practices are different in that they use callbacks. The callbacks essentially provide information or answers while a task is running. For example, the order of execution may have ten distinct steps.

In the middle of step three, a callback may be made to get information that was being processed and can be used in subsequent steps in the execution.

Parallel practices are often more resource-intensive, so the benefits of this way of development will depend largely on the hardware that’s being used.

How Developers Can Use Asynchronous Design Practices

PHP has come a long way between Version 5 and Version 7. The language as a whole is much faster and more robust than it was in the past.

One of the biggest advances is the introduction of the phpthread extension, which allows for the creation of new threads that can be used to turn a highly complex process into a lot of smaller processes that can all run at the same time.

Since multiple threads are used, the process can be completed faster.

Laravel uses the Symfony process component, which is a library that allows for additional threads to be created.

There is one issue that we won’t discuss in too much detail: jobs.

What’s wrong with Laravel’s jobs?

Jobs are a great way to allow for multiple processes to take place, such as adding rows into a database. The main issue with jobs is that when they’re used, they’re susceptible to timeout issues.

Jobs are also more resource intensive in that if you were adding 1,000 rows to a database, each job would open and close a MySQL connection, which is not ideal.

Laravel’s Process class

Laravel has its own Process class, which can be used to create new processes. The class can be added to run background processes from your controller for example.

An issue that many developers are having is knowing when to use processes properly.

Processes only make sense in some cases and in other cases, the benefit from processes may not exist at all.

You probably won’t use processes with inputting information from a general CRUD form because there isn’t a justification for use.

When a process requires a lot of time to take place, it’s often better to split the process into multiple parts.

A few examples of times to use asynchronous or parallel practices are:

  • PDF rendering
  • Image optimization
  • Site crawling on a massive scale

If you need to run multiple tasks in a specific order, you will have to adapt your coding accordingly.

When you run asynchronous processes, one of the main issues developers face is that there’s no way to receive the information back from the process in a specific order.

For example, let’s assume you were querying a database of names, with the names being Jennifer, Allison, Brian and Jasper. If you used processes, the processes may output the names:

  • Allison
  • Jasper
  • Jennifer
  • Brian

And the next time, certain threads may finish earlier and the outputted names may be completely different.

Performing tasks in parallel may be the optimal solution in this case, or the developer can add more coding and use the ID of the database fields for sorting the list properly.

The issue is that sorting can be intensive, so there needs to be a true justification for using asynchronous and parallel design practices.

In the spectrum of things, these practices must be used to speed up an app or site in an effective, meaningful way.

If the site or app is slower, the design practice will only require more resources from the server and will complicate the source code for no reason.

Last updated:2/25/2020 11:52:28 PM
Pedro Araez

Pedro Araez

Thank you

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