Tools and techniques to reduce the impact of the tech you are responsible for

June 10, 2020

PHP SW meet-up

It was my first time speaking at a PHP meet-up and I really enjoyed it. The group were very welcoming and judging from the questions and feedback, the talk got people thinking about & discussing their impact from a whole host of activities.


Here are some of the questions that came up at the end of the talk:

I’m interested in which is more costly in terms of carbon footprint with a more CPU itensive relational DB vs more storage in a NoSQL DB like MongoDB. Storage is cheap, but does it cost more ecologically vs CPU cost?

I loved this question, but unfortunately I don’t know the answer to this. It’s this kind of level of detail of research I hope we can unearth and provide answers to as a community. I am really looking forward to the ICT4S conference between 21st and 26th June as maybe I’ll be able to access knowledge like this to share.


Is there a breakdown of the calculations for ?

Yay an easy question. Yes there is and you can read it on their how it works page.


What is the tradeoff between a developer working to optimise code for a site that has very few visitors?

Another really great question. Performance matters when you run things at scale, and as discussed in the talk efficient code is better for the planet. So when building large sites with lets say 100s or 1,000s of visitors a day, removing small volumes of unneeded KBs makes a massive difference. Or getting rid of a few minor queries or redundant loops will have an impact on the energy required by your CPU. I would love to see more conversations in our dev communities about this kind of thinking.

This blog post by WordPress plugin author Danny VanKooten talks about the impact of removing a small amount of KBs from a plugin used at scale really well.

For smaller sites/projects, I think it’s about asking yourself what you are not doing instead – are there bigger fish to fry on other projects? For smaller sites where budget is low, I try to make sure the basics are covered: is the hosting is running on renewable energy, there’s sensible caching and are the theme/plugins up to date.


Here are some of the tweets and feedback that came through