Autoloader Optimization#

By default, the Composer autoloader runs relatively fast. However, due to the way PSR-4 and PSR-0 autoloading rules are set up, it needs to check the filesystem before resolving a classname conclusively. This slows things down quite a bit, but it is convenient in development environments because when you add a new class it can immediately be discovered/used without having to rebuild the autoloader configuration.

The problem however is in production you generally want things to happen as fast as possible, as you can simply rebuild the configuration every time you deploy and new classes do not appear at random between deploys.

For this reason, Composer offers a few strategies to optimize the autoloader.

Note: You should not enable any of these optimizations in development as they all will cause various problems when adding/removing classes. The performance gains are not worth the trouble in a development setting.

Optimization Level 1: Class map generation#

How to run it?#

There are a few options to enable this:

What does it do?#

Class map generation essentially converts PSR-4/PSR-0 rules into classmap rules. This makes everything quite a bit faster as for known classes the class map returns instantly the path, and Composer can guarantee the class is in there so there is no filesystem check needed.

On PHP 5.6+, the class map is also cached in opcache which improves the initialization time greatly. If you make sure opcache is enabled, then the class map should load almost instantly and then class loading is fast.

Trade-offs#

There are no real trade-offs with this method. It should always be enabled in production.

The only issue is it does not keep track of autoload misses (i.e. when it can not find a given class), so those fallback to PSR-4 rules and can still result in slow filesystem checks. To solve this issue two Level 2 optimization options exist, and you can decide to enable either if you have a lot of class_exists checks that are done for classes that do not exist in your project.

Optimization Level 2/A: Authoritative class maps#

How to run it?#

There are a few options to enable this:

What does it do?#

Enabling this automatically enables Level 1 class map optimizations.

This option is very simple, it says that if something is not found in the classmap, then it does not exist and the autoloader should not attempt to look on the filesystem according to PSR-4 rules.

Trade-offs#

This option makes the autoloader always return very quickly. On the flipside it also means that in case a class is generated at runtime for some reason, it will not be allowed to be autoloaded. If your project or any of your dependencies does that then you might experience "class not found" issues in production. Enable this with care.

Note: This can not be combined with Level 2/B optimizations. You have to choose one as they address the same issue in different ways.

Optimization Level 2/B: APCu cache#

How to run it?#

There are a few options to enable this:

What does it do?#

This option adds an APCu cache as a fallback for the class map. It will not automatically generate the class map though, so you should still enable Level 1 optimizations manually if you so desire.

Whether a class is found or not, that fact is always cached in APCu so it can be returned quickly on the next request.

Trade-offs#

This option requires APCu which may or may not be available to you. It also uses APCu memory for autoloading purposes, but it is safe to use and can not result in classes not being found like the authoritative class map optimization above.

Note: This can not be combined with Level 2/A optimizations. You have to choose one as they address the same issue in different ways.

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