Sling Model Performance

In my daily job as an SRE for AEM as a Cloud Service I often have to deal with performance questions, especially in the context of migrations of customer applications. Applications sometimes perform differently on AEM CS than they did on AEM 6.x, and a part of my job is to look into these cases.

This often leads to interesting deep dives and learnings; you might have seen this reflected in the postings of this blog 🙂 The problem this time was a tight loop like this:

for (Resource child: resource.getChildren()) {
SlingModel model = child.adaptTo(SlingModel.class);
if (model != null && model.hasSomeCondition()) {
// some very lightweight work

This code performed well with 1000 child resources in a AEM 6.x authoring instance, but quite poorly on an AEM CS authoring instance with the same number of child nodes. And the problem is not the large number of childnodes …

After wading knee-deep through TRACE logs I found the problem at an unexpected location. But before I present you the solution and some recommendations, let me you explain some background. But of course you can skip the next section and jump directly to the TL;DR at the bottom of this article.

SlingModels and parameter injection

One of the beauties of Sling Models is that these are simple PoJos, and properties are injected by the Sling Models framework. You just have to add matching annotations to mark them accordingly. See the full story in the official documentation.

The simple example in the documentation looks like this:

String title;

which (typically) injects the property named “title” from the resource this model was adapted from. The same way you can inject services, child-nodes any many other useful things.

To make this work, the framework uses an ordered list of Injectors, which are able to retrieve values to be injected (see the list of available injectors). The first injector which returns a non-null value is taken and its result is injected. In this example the ValueMapInjector is supposed to return a property called “title” from the valueMap of the resource, which is quite early in the list of injectors.

Ok, now let’s understand what the system does here:

String doesNotExist;

Here a optional field is declared, and if there is no property called “doesNotExist” in the valueMap of the resource, other injectors are queried if they can handle that injection. Assuming that no injector can do that, the value of the field “doesNotExist” remains null. No problem at first sight.

But indeed there is a problem, and it’s perfomance. To demonstrate it, I wrote a small benchmark (source code on my github account), which does a lot of adaptions to Sling Models. When deployed to AEM 6.5.5 or later (or a recent version of the AEM CS SDK) you can run it via curl -u admin:admin http://localhost:4502/bin/slingmodelcompare

This is its output:

de.joerghoh.cqdump.performance.core.models.ModelWith3Injects: single adaption took 18 microseconds
de.joerghoh.cqdump.performance.core.models.ModelWith3ValueMaps: single adaption took 16 microseconds
de.joerghoh.cqdump.performance.core.models.ModelWithOptionalValueMap: single adaption took 18 microseconds
de.joerghoh.cqdump.performance.core.models.ModelWith2OptionalValueMaps: single adaption took 20 microseconds
de.joerghoh.cqdump.performance.core.models.ModelWithOptionalInject: single adaption took 83 microseconds
de.joerghoh.cqdump.performance.core.models.ModelWith2OptionalInjects: single adaption took 137 microsecond

It’s a benchmark which on a very simple list of resources tries adaptions to a number of Model classes, which are different in their type of annotations. So adapting to a model which injects 3 properties takes approximately 20 microseconds, but as soon as a model has a failing injection (which is declared with “@Optional” to avoid failing the adaption), the duration increases massively to 83 microseconds, and even 137 microseconds when 2 these failed injections are there.

Ok, so having a few of such failed injections do not make a problem per se (you could do 2’000 within 100 milliseconds), but this test setup is a bit artificial, which makes these 2’000 a really optimistic number:

  • It is running on a system with a fast repository (SDK on my M1 Macbook); so for example the ChildResourceInjector does not has almost no overhead to test for the presence of a childResource called “doesNotExist”. This can be different, for example on AEM CS Author the Mongo storage has a higher latency than the segmentStore on the SDK or a publish. If that (non-existing) child-resource is not in the cache, there is an additional latency in the range of 1ms to load that information. What for? Well, basically for nothing.
  • The OsgiInjector is queried as well, which tries to access the OSGI ServiceRegistry; this registry is a central piece of OSGI, and it’s consistency is heavily guarded by locks. I have seen this injector being blocked by these locks, which also adds latency.

That means that these 50-60 microseconds could easily multiply, and then the performance is getting a problem. And this is the problem which initially sparked this investigation.

So what can we do to avoid this situation? That is quite easy: Do not use @Inject, but use the specialized injectors directly (see them in the documentation). While the benefit is probably quite small when it comes to properties which are present (ModelWith3Injects tool 18 microseconds vs 16 microseconds of ModelWith3ValueMaps), the different gets dramatic as soon as we consider failed injections:

Even in my local benchmark the improvement can be seen quite easily, there is almost no overhead of such a failed injection, if I explicitly mark them as Injection via the ValueMapInjector. And as mentioned, this overhead can be even larger in reality.

Still, this is a micro-optimization in the majority of all cases; but as mentioned already, many of these optimizations implemented definitely can make a difference.

TL;DR Use injector-specific annotations

Instead of @Inject use directly the correct injector. You normally know exactly where you want that injected value to come from.
And by the way: did you know that the use of @Inject is discouraged in favor of these injector-specific annotations?

(Note to myself: The Sling Models documentation needs an update, especially the examples.)