Drupal 8.5 is out, and it's blazingly fast!

Posted on 9 Mar 2018 by Alexei Raiu

Drupal Association has announced a new Drupal 8 version. Drupal 8.5 has been released. It has about 1300 fixes and enhancements, and introduces working Media module in core. One thing that I have noticed, though, is that it's blazingly fast. 

First, Media. The idea is that image, video, audio, and files can be selected from a set of existing files, rather than having to upload them every time anew. This is great for publishers who want to reuse the existing media from their server (which is, every publisher). Drupal 7 had that available via a contrib module, and Drupal 8 has had that available via a contrib module since version 8.1. Now, however, it's being brought into the core. Media was first introduced in core of 8.4, and advertised, even though it was not usable in 8.4, and not installable. Now, in 8.5, is what I cosider a true introduction of this module in core. I must admit though, that it's a simple reference field now, not as powerful and fancy as it's contrib predecessor. So, still a way to go. My is to stick with the contrib version for now.

Second, Performance. I did my initial tests on Drupal 8 when it was first released, and I was not impressed with it's performance - it was 2 times slower than Drupal 7. Now, after about two years of optimization, it's blazingly fast. I must admit, I re-ran my tests a few times to make sure. 20 ms response on my local home server. That is about 4x times faster than a comparable Wordpress page on the same server, which is about 75-80 ms. That is much, much better than it was back when Drupal 8 was first released. I admit, I am impressed, it has beaten my expectations very strongly.

Now, a few comments about my performance tests, and Drupal VS Wordpress performance. I run my test on an empty post (empty node), withiout any additional block, menus, etc. The idea is to measure how much time it takes for the CMS internals to deliver the first byte (TTFB) without having to struggle with the additional processing that is added to the site in the later development. The logic is that Drupal 8 has a much bigger code base, based on Symfony framework, and uses OOP extensively, which is generally slower than functional code. My initial tests back in 2015 showed Drupal 8 to be a bit slower than Wordpress, which was understandable, given it's larger internals. Now, 2.5 years after, Drupal has smartly dealt with the overhead with optimization and caching. Memory usage For Drupal 8.5 core (true usage, memory_get_peak_usage(TRUE);), memory peaks to 16 MB on first run, and remains within 2 MB on further runs (cahing at work).

This makes Drupal 8.5 highly competitive on shared hosting, making it desirable for smaller sites (which I also build).