“Just One More Module” Temptation: It’s A Trap

QArea Team by QArea Team on January 5, 2016

“Just One More Module” Temptation: It’s A Trap
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1. Is the more-the better?

Who doesn’t want to get more? You want to have the best, the fastest and the most advanced website, right?

To make your website more advanced, attractive, functional. The more modules – the better functionality. It is a misleading thought indeed. As they say, the path to hell is paved with good intentions.

The users are becoming more demanding and it is getting more challenging to impress and engage them. So the temptation to install as many modules as possible comes across as absolutely understandable and well-grounded, just like any devil’s temptation. But the reality runs contrary to the expectations. The more modules you enable, the higher risks are that they will malfunction, especially if servers are shared and not dedicated.

Have you ever wanted more than you actually need? Let’s face the truth: People do it all the time. With all this pressing supply of commodities, services and booming technologies. ‘The more is the better’ is one of the mottos of modern society. And it doesn’t concern just consumer goods, it covers almost all the spheres. The more demand there is, the more you think you need.

As of January 2015 there are almost 30,000 modules available (see Drupal.org).

2. The diabolic ‘Just One More…’ trap.

Everybody knows that in most cases the quality matters more than the quantity but everybody wants to have them both. And this is the catch. In most cases the quantity/quality choice works as a radio button. Opting for one excludes the other.

So why you shouldn’t install and enable too many modules?

First of all, too many modules slow down your site.

What’s more, modules can turn out terrible in terms of maintenance and, as any other piece of software, they contain bugs. Yes, defects and glitches may be minor if standalone, but you never know how a group of them will act straight in the heart of your beloved solution.

How many is too many?

If the server is shared, 20 or less contributed modules must be enough for providing the adequate flexibility and functionality.

If your site is really big and complex, you may need up to 100 modules.

More than 100 modules seems more like a compulsion, rather than necessity.

In fact, the thing is not only in the number of modules but in the number of modules you can maintain and provide hardware capacity to.

You must provide the adequate resources to make the modules work: RAM, CPU, in-memory cache, servers with load balancing and more.

Preventive measures to take:

  • First of all, you have to ensure you can uninstall and disable modules which you won’t need anymore and not get saddled with the odd modules which just take up space.

Most modules can be uninstalled if not needed, but not all of them offer such an option so when testing a module here’s what we usually do: our team tests it on a template site and ensures modules can be installed and deleted at will. This prevents odd data in the database.

For instance, in Drupal 8 many modules can’t be disabled properly, or there is a risk of them misbehaving when they are enabled again.

  • Creating the template site for each new website (installing modules first on this site).
  • Trying new modules on a template site before installing on a real website. Selecting only those which you really need. Monitoring which you need and which you don’t. Keeping the website clean. Getting rid of unnecessary modules. That’s why you must think beforehand to be able to uninstall the modules you don’t need anymore.
  • Review your site on a regular basis, disable, uninstall and remove unused modules from the code base.
  • To be on the safe side and ensure YOUR website runs as you want it to in the long-term perspective, consult the experts.

A takeaway:

The key advice is to keep the site clean and minimalistic, to monitor the site and overview the modules from time to time. If you want the website to run smoothly and ensure it doesn’t misbehave, your website must be kept in order. The real mastership is to take most functionality out of less modules.

Consider everything carefully. That’s how we do it in QArea. Thinking twice (or more) pays off in the long run – this is the advice of experience. Just remember – there’s always place for a step back. There’s always a module you can easily live without.

There are always talented Architects and Project Managers at QArea, who can do the planning for you.

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