Laravel query performance – toBase

I’ve scoured many of the top results for “Laravel performance” in google, bing, duck duck go, etc… and am flummoxed that one of the key things to help boost Laravel performance is almost never mentioned. Specifically, I’m talking about the toBase() method in the query builder.

The toBase() method will instruct the query builder to skip the step of turning the query results in to full blown Eloquent objects, and instead, return standard PHP classes – the ‘stdClass’.

The resulting objects are bare. You can’t call any methods on them, because there are none to call.

Client::query()->where('owner_id', 7)->get();
Code language: PHP (php)

let’s say this returns 70 client records. Each of those needs to be instantiated in to an Eloquent object. If you *need* that functionality – for example, you’re going to loop through this client list and call some operation on each client (sending a notification, or attaching resources, or whatnot..) the full Eloquent objects may be needed.

More often than not, however, I’ll see

$clients = Client::query()->where('owner_id',7)->get(); return response()->json(['clients'=>$clients);
Code language: PHP (php)

You’ve just iterated through 70 records, created new Eloquent objects, then immediately set about converting them to JSON.

toBase() saves a tremendous amount of CPU time in the case above

$clients = Client::toBase()->query()->where('owner_id',7)->get(); return response()->json(['clients'=>$clients);
Code language: PHP (php)

I’m not going to give full detailed benchmarks here – you can simply try this out for yourself.

I can say that with a minimally complex ‘Client’ object and about 600 records in the database:

$c = Client::query()->toBase()->get();
Code language: PHP (php)

is roughly twice as fast as

$c = Client::query()->get();
Code language: PHP (php)

A 50% speed up is nothing to sneeze at.

I recently took an API endpoint having to do with retrieving client records and associated addresses. With a little bit of rewriting – including toBase() – this went from 1.1 seconds down to ~200ms. This gets called multiple times per minute at heavy times, and having faster response times for the end users has been duly appreciated.

I believe this can be achieved in Doctrine with “HYDRATE_ARRAY” mode, and likely similar in other tech stacks (hibernate, etc).

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