Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Reducing the footprint

Sorry I haven't blogged in a while, I have been working very hard on commercial D7 sites in my day job but haven't really come across anything spectacularly D7 I wanted to talk about.

So here's something unspectacular but quite important, and applies almost as much to D6 as D7.

Every module eats memory. Every x.module file (for enabled modules) gets loaded for every access (well, let's ignore caching). So anything that can be done to reduce the files loaded (size in this case) can only be a good thing. (Back in the day I wrote code for machines with 128K of memory of which 20K might be used for the screen, and another 32K for the OS - in those days you really had to think about keeping code as compact as possible.)

Drupal uses hooks to gather information from modules, and then it stores this information in the database caches (or other tables), after which it no longer calls these hooks - unless the caches get cleared and it has to build the information again.

Hooks like hook_menu, hook_theme, hook_permission and so on. But these hooks need to be available in the x.module file - and yet they are only called infrequently.

Solution? Put a minimal hook in the x.module file which loads another file (say and then calls the actual hook code which is in there. Like this:

In x.module:

function x_menu() {
  module_load_include('', 'x');
  return _x_menu();

And in

function _x_menu() {
  $items = array();

  $items['my/path'] = array(
    // my/path data  );

  return $items;

If a hook is called on pretty much every page there is no advantage in doing this. But if it's a hook that's called infrequently it's definitely worth it.

This is something I'd played with back in my D6 days but then stopped using. But then I saw another contributed module that was using it and thought "yep, I should be doing that". So I am and here it is.


There is another solution using hook_hook_info() which allows you to define a file in which hooks can be found. This does not work for the majority of system modules because they use customised hook-calling methods. Only one system module - Tokens - has it defined so token code can be located in

However the Block module only uses standard hook-calling functions and you could specify a file for block management using hook_hook_info_alter(); I wrote something about this here.


ANDRES said...

How do I subscribe to your blog? :)

Adaddinsane said...

The RSS feed is

And I've added a Follow by email option.