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Partial Caching


Partial caching, new in SilverStripe 2.4, is a feature that allows the caching of just a portion of a page.

As opposed to static publishing, which avoids the SilverStripe controller layer on cached pages, partial caching allows caching for pages that contain a mix of moderately static & user specific data, and still provide full access control and permission enforcement.

The trade-off is that it does not provide as much performance improvement as static publishing, although for data heavy pages the speed increases can be significant.


The way you mark a section of the template as being cached is to wrap that section in a cached tag, like so:

<% cached %>
<% end_cached %>

Each cache block has a cache key - an unlimited number of comma separated variables (in the same form as if and control tag variables) and quoted strings.

Every time the cache key returns a different result, the contents of the block are recalculated. If the cache key is the same as a previous render, the cached value stored last time is used.

Since the above example contains just one argument as the cache key, a string (which will be the same every render) it will invalidate the cache after the TTL has expired (default 10 minutes)

Here are some more complex examples:

From a block that updates every time the Page subclass it's the template for updates

<% cached 'database', LastEdited %>

From a block that shows a login block if not logged in, or a homepage link if logged in, depending on the current member

<% cached 'loginblock', CurrentMember.ID %>

From a block that shows a summary of the page edits if administrator, nothing if not

<% cached 'loginblock', LastEdited, CurrentMember.isAdmin %>


Often you want to invalidate a cache when any in a set of objects change, or when the objects in a relationship change. To help do this, SilverStripe 2.4 also introduces the concept of Aggregates. These calculate and return SQL aggregates on sets of DataObjects - the most useful for us being the Max aggregate.

For example, if we have a menu, we want that menu to update whenever any page is edited, but would like to cache it otherwise. By using aggregates, that's easy

<% cached 'navigation', Aggregate(Page).Max(LastEdited) %>

If we have a block that shows a list of categories, we can make sure the cache updates every time a category is added or edited

<% cached 'categorylist', Aggregate(Category).Max(LastEdited) %>

We can also calculate aggregates on relationships. A block that shows the current member's favourites needs to update whenever the relationship Member::$has_many = array('Favourites' => Favourite') changes.

<% cached 'favourites', CurrentMember.ID, CurrentMember.RelationshipAggregate(Favourites).Max(LastEdited) %>

Cache key calculated in controller

That last example is a bit large, and is complicating our template up with icky logic. Better would be to extract that logic into the controller

function FavouriteCacheKey() {
    $member = Member::currentUser();
    return implode('_', array(

and then using that function in the cache key

<% cached FavouriteCacheKey %>

Cache blocks and template changes

In addition to the key elements passed as parameters to the cached control, the system automatically includes the template name and a sha1 hash of the contents of the cache block in the key. This means that any time the template is changed the cached contents will automatically refreshed.

Purposely stale data

In some situations it's more important to be fast than to always be showing the latest data. By constructing the cache key to invalidate less often than the data updates you can ensure rendering time is constant no matter how often the data updates.

For instance, if we show some blog statistics, but are happy having them be slightly stale, we could do

<% cached 'blogstatistics', Blog.ID %>

which will invalidate after the cache lifetime expires. If you need more control than that (cache lifetime is configurable only on a site-wide basis), you could add a special function to your controller:

function BlogStatisticsCounter() {
    return (int)(time() / 60 / 5); // Returns a new number every five minutes

and then use it in the cache key

<% cached 'blogstatistics', Blog.ID, BlogStatisticsCounter %>

Cache block conditionals

You may wish to conditionally enable or disable caching. To support this, in cached tags you may (after any key arguments) specify 'if' or 'unless' followed by a standard template variable argument. If 'if' is used, the resultant value must be true for that block to be cached. Conversely if 'unless' is used, the result must be false.

Following on from the previous example, you might wish to only cache slightly-stale data if the server is experiencing heavy load:

<% cached 'blogstatistics', Blog.ID if HighLoad %>

By adding a HighLoad function to your page controller, you could enable or disable caching dynamically.

To cache the contents of a page for all anonymous users, but dynamically calculate the contents for logged in members, you could use something like:

<% cached unless CurrentUser %>

As a shortcut, the template tag 'uncached' can be used - it is the exact equivilent of a cached block with an if condition that always returns false. The key and conditionals in an uncached tag are ignored, so you can easily temporarily disable a particular cache block by changing just the tag, leaving the key and conditional intact.

<% uncached %>

Nested cacheblocks

New since 2.4 beta 2 is the ability to nest independent cache blocks (with one important rule, discussed later).

Any nested cache blocks are calculated independently from their containing block, regardless of the cached state of that container.

This allows you to wrap an entire page in a cache block on the page's LastEdited value, but still keep a member-specific portion dynamic, without having to include any member info in the page's cache key.

An example:

<% cached LastEdited %>
  Our wonderful site

  <% cached Member.ID %>
    Welcome $Member.Name
  <% end_cached %>

<% end_cached %>

This will cache the entire outer section until the next time the page is edited, but will display a different welcome message depending on the logged in member.

Cache conditionals and the uncached tag also work in the same nested manner. Since Member.Name is fast to calculate, you could also write the last example as:

<% cached LastEdited %>
  Our wonderful site

  <% uncached %>
    Welcome $Member.Name
  <% end_uncached %>

<% end_cached %>

The important rule

Currently cached blocks can not be contained within if or control blocks. The template engine will throw an error letting you know if you've done this. You can often get around this using aggregates.

Failing example:

<% cached LastEdited %>

  <% control Children %>
    <% cached LastEdited %>
    <% end_cached %>
  <% end_control %>

<% end_cached %>

Can be re-written as:

<% cached LastEdited %>

  <% cached RelationshipAggregate(Children).Max(LastEdited) %>
    <% control Children %>
    <% end_control %>
  <% end_cached %>

<% end_cached %>

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