Specifications for Drupal web site testing

Topics: Drupal

Web site benchmarking articles at this site use a standard configuration for all tests. The test web server runs on a Mac with Apache, PHP, eAccelerator, and Drupal. Test tools include Apache Bench, Top, Charles, and Firefox with several extensions. Two Drupal test sites use default and loaded configurations with automatically generated sample content.

Benchmarking tools

Charles 2.6.1 is used as a proxy server to monitor traffic and artificially throttle speeds down to the equivalent of a cable modem. This enables tests where cable modem bandwidth would affect page load times (such as file compression tests) without doing the testing over a real cable modem, which runs into unpredictable speed variations due to competing network traffic.

Firefox is used for web browser testing. Several add-ons are used to collect information. Cache Status 0.7.1 reports on the browser’s cache usage. Charles Autoconfiguration 2.5 adjusts Firefox to use the Charles proxy server. Web Developer 1.0.2 provides a wealth of information about page content, HTTP response headers, and so forth.

The Web-Sniffer.net site provides a free service that shows HTTP response headers. The WebSiteOptimizer.com site provides a service that loads everything in a page and estimates load times for different connection speeds.

Server configuration

The web server is an old Mac used exclusively for server tasks. While sluggish for interactive use, it is sufficient for light web serving and for performance tests that compare web site configurations.

Computer Mac G4
CPU 533 MHz PowerPC
RAM 1.5 Gbytes
OS Mac OS X 10.4.8 (Tiger)
Web server Apache 1.3.33
Database MySQL 5.0.27-max
PHP PHP 5.2.0
PHP script cache eAccelerator 0.9.5
Content management system Drupal 5.1

Drupal configuration

Benchmarks use two web sites with different features enabled. The “Simple” site is a default installation of Drupal 5.1, which includes only a handful of enabled modules and a basic page layout. The “Complex” site is a Drupal 5.1 installation plus several of the most popular contributed modules installed. The “Complex” site has a lot of enabled features and a complex page layout.

Enabled modules for “Simple” and “Complex” test sites:

  Module Simple Complex
Core required modules Block yes yes
  Filter yes yes
  Node yes yes
  System yes yes
  User yes yes
  Watchdog yes yes
Core optional modules Aggregator   yes
  Blog   yes
  Blog API    
  Book   yes
  Color yes yes
  Comment yes yes
  Contact   yes
  Forum   yes
  Help yes yes
  Locale   yes
  Menu yes yes
  Path   yes
  Poll   yes
  Profile   yes
  Search   yes
  Statistics   yes
  Taxonomy yes yes
  Throttle   yes
  Tracker   yes
  Upload   yes
Contributed modules CCK content   yes
  CCK content copy   yes
  CCK date field   yes
  CCK field group   yes
  CCK image field   yes
  CCK link field   yes
  CCK node reference field   yes
  CCK number field   yes
  CCK option widgets   yes
  CCK text field   yes
  CCK user reference field   yes
  Devel   yes
  Devel node access    
  Devel macro    
  FCKeditor   yes
  Image   yes
  Image attach   yes
  Image cache   yes
  Image gallery   yes
  Node keywords   yes
  Pathauto   yes
  Spam   yes
  Tagadelic   yes
  Taxonomy access control   yes
  Taxonomy context   yes
  Views   yes
  Views bonus pack   yes
  Views rss   yes
  Views theme wizard    
  Views ui   yes
  Voting api   yes
  Voting api actions    

Simple site

Simple test site home page

The “Simple” site uses default settings for all modules, with the following exceptions:

  • User management:
    • Only site administrators can create accounts.
    • Anonymous visitors can view all content and create comments.
  • Site building:
    • No primary or secondary links menu.

The “Simple” site’s page layout  includes the navigation menu and user login blocks, and uses the default blue color scheme of the “Garland” theme.

Complex site

Complex test site home page

The “Complex” site also uses default settings, with the following exceptions:

  • User management:
    • Only site administrators can create accounts.
    • Anonymous visitors can view all content and create comments.
  • Site building:
    • No primary or secondary links menu.
  • Site configuration:
    • Throttle on 20 or more anonymous or authenticated users.
    • Clean URLs.
    • Automatic URL aliases generated by pathauto.
    • Taxonomy-based breadcrumbs enabled on all content types except books.
  • Content management:
    • Image and file attachments enabled for all content types except Image.
    • FCKeditor available in a popup window.
    • Voting is enabled on all content types except Page and Poll.

The “Complex” site includes a test content type created using CCK. This “testcck” type includes a title and body as well as one of each of the CCK field types in the installation: date (date and date stamp), image, link, node reference, number (integer and decimal), text, and user reference.

The “Complex” site‘s layout includes multiple blocks on the left and right, and a custom color scheme with the “Garland” theme.

  • Header:
    • Search form
  • Left sidebar:
    • User login
    • Navigation menu
    • Who's online
    • Most recent poll
  • Right sidebar:
    • Tagadelic tags for forums
    • New forum topics
    • Active forum topics
    • Latest image
    • Recent blog posts
    • Recent comments


Drupal content

Both sites are loaded with sample content created using the Devel module’s generator scripts. For the “Simple” site, all sample content is either a page or a story (the only types in a default installation). For the “Complex” site, content also includes blog, book, forum, image, and testcck entries. Both sites also include sample vocabularies, terms, and comments. Content quantities are based upon Drupal’s benchmarking recommendations.

Users 2000
Nodes 5000
Path aliases 5000
Comments 10000
Taxonomy vocabularies 15
Taxonomy terms 250
Polls 1

After creating content, the “Complex” site’s search index was built fully. The “Simple” site does not enable searching.

Nadeau software consulting
Nadeau software consulting