The Right Tool

4/16/2012

Would you use a tractor to till your garden? You certainly could, and you'd probably want to if you have a farm for a garden, but the chances are a tractor would be more trouble than it's worth. So what does a tractor have to do with gpEasy? Well, would you use Wordpress to build a small website?

Now don't get me wrong, if we're going to compare Wordpress to a tractor, then it would be the finest piece of dirt moving machinery ever built!  The problem is that Wordpress has been built to handle very large websites and might not be the best CMS for a small project.

gpEasy and Wordpress are in fact such different applications that it would probably be easier to contrast them than to compare them. To illustrate the difference, I'd like to look at the memory usage of each CMS when sending a single page to the client. The amount of memory required is a direct representation of how much code and processing is used by the application.  Naturally, more memory is indicative of more behind the scenes processing and a more complex system.

Memory: gpEasy vs Wordpress

If you're already rolling your eyes and saying to yourself, "of course gpEasy is going to use less memory", what would you expect? Would it be reasonable for gpEasy to use 30% less memory than Wordpress? Or maybe even 50% less? Would you believe over 80% less?

My tests were made using PHP's memory_get_peak_usage() function on an Apache server running PHP 5.3 on Linux with the latest releases of both gpEasy and Wordpress. Comparing similar sized pages (the page in gpEasy was actually bigger), Wordpress consistently used over 21,100,000 bytes of memory where gpEasy used less than 2,900,000 bytes.

That's less than 1/7th as much memory, which is actually a difference of over 85%!

Why is Memory So Important?

When I first ran the tests, I was fairly certain what the results would show, but I didn't expect such a significant difference.  To put these numbers in some perspective, let's look at the newest version of PHP. One of the most talked about improvements in PHP 5.4 has been the removal of deprecated features and the subsequent improvements in performance. Since it's release, tech blogs and forums have been buzzing about the improvements with headlines like:

"PHP 5.4 Will Make the Web Faster"

"PHP 5.4 is Really Fast"

"Is Anyone else thoroughly impressed with PHP 5.4 Performance?"

The improvements we're looking at with PHP 5.4 are at most in the 30% range, which are, don't get me wrong, exceptional improvements. Now consider the over 85% difference in memory usage between gpEasy and Wordpress.

The fact that Wordpress and gpEasy use different amounts of memory shouldn't be too much of a surprise.  After all, in terms of content management systems, they are at opposite ends of the spectrum—one is great for large elaborate websites while the other is optimized for smaller projects.  The size of the difference, however, should be significant enough to encourage you to use gpEasy the next time you're building a website that doesn't require thousands of pages.


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