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How to Use PHP Fibers Async Programming Possibilities to Make PHP Code Run Faster Since PHP 8.1

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Asynchronous programming can be a way to make PHP code run faster by executing one task while other tasks wait for an external task to finish.

PHP 8.1 introduced the Fiber class. This class provides a cleaner way to help implement asynchronous programming in PHP.

Please read this article to learn more about asynchronous programming and how to implement it in PHP using fiber or other alternatives like PHP extensions and frameworks specific to developing asynchronous programming-based applications.




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In this article you can learn about:

1. What is Asyncronous Programming

2. Why Asyncronous PHP Programming Is Good to Make PHP Code Run Faster

3. How Can PHP 8.1 Fibers Help Implementing Asynchronous Programming in PHP

4. How to Take Advantage of PHP 8.1 Fibers or Specific PHP Frameworks and Extensions to Use Asyncronous Programming


1. What is Asyncronous Programming

Languages like PHP provide functions developers can call to perform a given operation.

Some functions execute operations that may take some time to execute. Much of that time may be spent waiting for an operation run on an external system, like sending an HTTP request to a remote Web server, hardware access like reading a file, or an external program like executing a database query.

While PHP waits for those operations to finish, PHP itself blocks until those operations finish.

This wait time could be used to do some other helpful tasks in parallel.

Asynchronous programming is a way to structure the code of a program in a way that one task can execute while other tasks are waiting for an external response.

2. Why Asyncronous PHP Programming Is Good to Make PHP Code Run Faster

Asynchronous programming allows developers to define what tasks can be done in parallel.

With asynchronous programming, languages like PHP can execute more tasks in less time.

This way, PHP code may run faster if developers can use asynchronous programming possibilities that newer PHP versions provide.

3. How Can PHP 8.1 Fibers Help Implementing Asynchronous Programming in PHP

PHP 8.1 introduces the concept of fibers. Fibers provide a way to run one task while other tasks wait for an external operation to finish.

In PHP, a fiber is implemented by the Fiber class. This class implements several functions that can control the state of a process that can be started, interrupted, resumed, and terminated.

For instance, if you have a function that uses fibers to send HTTP requests to retrieve a Web page from a remote server, the thread can start by calling a given callback function that connects to the remote server. While the remote server does not respond, the fiber is interrupted.

When the remote server responds, the thread can be resumed. When finally, the whole Web page is retrieved, the yarn is terminated.

Whenever a fiber is interrupted, another thread can execute another function in parallel.

For instance, if you have an HTML parser that parses each tag and data one element at a time, the retrieval of the remote page and its parsing process can finish faster than if PHP had to retrieve the whole page first and then parse the page as a separate step.

4. How to Take Advantage of PHP 8.1 Fibers or Specific PHP Frameworks and Extensions to Use Asyncronous Programming

Fibers are not the first attempt in PHP to provide a way asynchronous programming support. Before PHP 8.1, you could use specific functions that allowed executing parallel tasks while waiting for other tasks to finish.

Fibers provide a cleaner way built-in the core PHP to provide a means to implement asynchronous programming in PHP.

Still, moving an application from traditional synchronous programming to use asynchronous programming support, like using Fibers, is not a trivial change. That is why I am not presenting specific examples in this article because they would not be easy to understand.

Therefore, I recommend using Fibers or another asynchronous programming in new PHP projects that can benefit from parallel task execution.

In this case, I recommend using specific PHP extensions like Swoole or frameworks like ReactPHP to implement new PHP applications based on asynchronous programming. 




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