A version of Yii2's ActiveRecord with various performance improvements at the cost of slightly less flexibility

v1.2 2015-05-07 16:20 UTC

This package is not auto-updated.

Last update: 2020-11-27 21:17:11 UTC


A faster but slightly less flexible version of Yii2's ActiveRecord.

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Yii2 is a great framework, and its flexibility is a big part of that. As usual though, flexibility comes at the cost of performance, and sometimes the performance impact might not be worth the tradeoff.

This code focusses specifically on Yii2's ActiveRecord. Because of ActiveRecord's flexibility, a lot of calculations have to be done at runtime: look up the corresponding database schema, derive the list of attributes from that, determine the list of safe attribute for each scenario based on the model's rules(), etcetera.

In Yii2's architecture, most of these calculations are not only done once (per request) for every one of your ActiveRecord classes, but for every one of your ActiveRecord instances.

Take this code as example:

foreach (Cat::find()->limit(100)->all() as $cat) {
    echo $cat->owner;

The call to ->owner will be forwarded to __get(), which will call hasAttribute(), which will call attributes(), which will call getTableSchema(), which will use the DI container to retrieve a reference to the db component, and so on. All of this just to determine whether your Cat class has a native property $owner or that it should be resolved as ActiveRecord property, or perhaps as a relation. This is done not just once, but 100 times: again for every one of your Cat instances.

Is all this necessary? This of course depends on the way your application is designed. For example, it's very possible to attach behaviors to objects at runtime, causing one of your cats to have a owner relation, while another one doesn't. Or to override attributes() to completely hide the owner property based on the value of one of the other properties of the instance.

But in a lot of applications this isn't the case: while different instances of a class would of course have different values, their metadata would be static: either all of your Cats have a property owner, or none of them do. If one of your cat instances is found to have the MiowBehavior, all other cats would have it as well.

If this is indeed the case for your application, we can cache this metadata on the class level: once it's calculated for one instance of a class, for all other instances it can be looked up instantly. This extension's ActiveRecord does just that, by using a static class variable to cache the result of a function between all instances of the containing class.

This can enormously benefit your application's performance, especially for requests that handle a lot of instances of the same class, like a GridView or ListView with a large pagination size, or an API call on a resource collection.


The extension comes with a benchmark tool to measure the performance improvements for a few very simple scenarios. In all cases, 1000 instances of the same class are created.

~/yii2-staticactiverecord/benchmark$ ./yii benchmark

Benchmarking benchmarkGetProperty...
Regular ActiveRecord: 0.0089842319488525
Static ActiveRecord:  0.0069756507873535
Improvement:          23%

Benchmarking benchmarkSetProperty...
Regular ActiveRecord: 0.009577751159668
Static ActiveRecord:  0.0076509952545166
Improvement:          21%

Benchmarking benchmarkValidate...
Regular ActiveRecord: 0.046598815917969
Static ActiveRecord:  0.03521466255188
Improvement:          25%

The sum of the performance improvements in a single request of course highly depends on your specific application, but I've been able to reduce the response time for one of my application's heavy requests by more than 50%.


The extension re-uses Yii's existing ActiveRecordTest suite, overriding the default ActiveRecord implementation with the one in this extension. This shows that none of the testcases included in Yii are broken by this extension's behavior.


As was said, this extension is not for everyone. Some signs that it might not be suitable for a specific class:

  • The class overrides any of the functions getTableSchema(), primaryKey(), attributes(), hasAttribute(), scenarios()
  • There is a reference to $this in one of these functions in the class: rules(), behaviors(), tableName()
  • Your application attaches behaviors to the class at runtime
  • Your application calls getTableSchema($refresh=true) on the class' table


Via composer: composer require laszlovl/yii2-staticactiverecord

After that, simply extend your ActiveRecord classes from lvl\staticactiverecord\db\ActiveRecord instead of yii\db\ActiveRecord.