My question is whether or not using multiple PHP includes() is a bad idea. The only reason I'm asking is because I always hear having too many stylesheets or scripts on a site creates more HTTP requests and slows page loading. I was wondering the same about PHP.
The detailed answer:
Every CSS or JS file referenced in a web page is actually fetched over the network by the browser, which involves often 100s of milliseconds or more of network latency. Requests to the same server are (by convention, though not mandated) serialized one or two at a time, so these delays stack up.
PHP include files, on the other hand, are all processed on the server itself. Instead of 100s of milliseconds, the local disk access will be 10s of milliseconds or less, and if cached, will be direct memory accesses which is even faster.
If you use something like http://eaccelerator.net/ or http://php.net/manual/en/book.apc.php then your PHP code will all be precompiled on the server once, and it doesn't even matter if you're including files or dumping them all in one place.
The short answer:
Don't worry about it. 99 times out of 100 with this issue, the benefits of better code organization outweigh the performance increases.
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