Navigating your first days with Blackfire: a comprehensive guide to optimizing web application performance

By Thomas di Luccio, on Jul 19, 2023

Welcome, and congratulations!

Welcome to Blackfire! You’ve made a great choice in choosing our unique continuous observability solution for your web application. Blackfire is designed to help you optimize the performance of your web application by integrating seamlessly into your development and deployment workflows.

After all, you can’t optimize what you can’t measure. Blackfire provides its users with bionic glasses giving a detailed real-time view of your application’s real behavior. With Blackfire, you can observe your application in granular detail, identifying any bottlenecks or weak areas hindering its optimal performance.

It transforms raw data into actionable insights, enabling you to proactively spot issues and glitches, troubleshoot them, and optimize your application’s performance all in one place.

Your Observability Strategy

Before we delve into the specifics of using Blackfire, it’s essential to understand the broader perspective – your Observability Strategy.  Fixing one important performance issue can be rewarding, but seamlessly integrating performance optimization into your existing routines and workflows is truly transformative.

Blackfire Monitoring provides a bird’s-eye view of one application’s performance. It lets you know in real-time what should be prioritized and helps frame a diagnosis. You can know when and where a specific issue is happening.

Blackfire Profiler lets you dive deep into the code execution and all the services being used. You can understand why a performance issue is happening and how to fix it, empowering you to locate a bottleneck to the very function or service calls.

Once the optimization is in place, the last part of your strategy should be to ensure it lasts. Blackfire’s extensive test suite and integrations with webhooks and CI/CD pipelines are how to run performance tests with every pull request and never deploy any code introducing performance regressions again.

Monitoring your production applications

If you have applications running on production environments, your priority should be to check on them regularly and identify any resource-intensive components that might require optimization. 

Blackfire empowers you to filter through collected traces and isolate the most impactful bottlenecks. By focusing on these significant elements, your optimization efforts will benefit most users and ensure your application achieves its business goals.

Blackfire alerting feature can furthermore proactively notifies you about any performance issues or shifting pattern, letting you address potential problems before they impact your users.

Your action items:

Blackfire Profiler: as close as possible to the code execution

A profiler is a tool that measures how some code consumes resources at run-time. It enables to find performance bottlenecks and understand the code’s behavior. Blackfire Profiler can be used in all environments, from development to production, without adding any overhead to end-users.

The profiler comprehensively lists all the resources consumed and the time spent on each function and service. You can also inspect the impact of your SQL queries and HTTP calls, along with call graphs and timeline views.

Blackfire Profiler also provides a series of actionable recommendations, detailed cache usage information, and configuration data to guide your optimization efforts.

We invite you to explore the online book “PHP Performance Explained“. And, this, even if you are not using PHP. With each chapter, you’ll discover the intricacies of Blackfire Profiler. Plus, you’ll be able to profile and optimize a demo application, providing hands-on experience to enhance your skills.

Your action items:

Writing Performance Tests

After your performance fix, it’s time to enforce it and write your first performance tests. Blackfire comes with an extensive test suite and many integrations with testing frameworks.

Performance tests ensure that your improvements don’t inadvertently introduce new issues and that your web application continues to meet its performance targets over time. Matching assertions are automatically evaluated with every profile. 

Blackfire Scenarios are a powerful feature designed to simulate real-world user interactions with your application. They allow you to define complex sequences of HTTP requests and test how your application performs under these circumstances.

Your action items:

Let’s continue the conversation

Congratulations on getting started with Blackfire! You can now monitor and optimize your web application’s performance. Remember, the performance optimization journey is ongoing – keep an eye on your metrics, iterate on your improvements, write tests, and continually refine your strategy.

Thank you for joining us on this journey toward continuous observability and performance optimization. We invite you to continue the conversation with us on, Reddit, Twitter, or our public Slack channel. We’re here to help, answer questions, and learn from your experiences. Together, we can create faster, more reliable web applications.

Happy Performance Optimization!

Thomas di Luccio

Thomas is a Developer Relations Engineer at for He likes nothing more than understanding the users' needs and helping them find practical and empowering solutions. He’ll support you as a day-to-day user.