⏱ Nette Caching: library with easy-to-use API and many cache backends.

v3.0.0-beta 2017-02-02 02:16 UTC


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Cache accelerates your application by storing data - once hardly retrieved - for future use.

Documentation can be found on the website.


The recommended way to install Nette Caching is via Composer:

composer require nette/caching

It requires PHP version 5.6 and supports PHP up to 7.2. The dev-master version requires PHP 7.1.


Nette Caching offers a very intuitive API for cache manipulation. Before we show you the first example, we need to think about place where to store data physically. We can use a database, Memcached server, or the most available storage - hard drive:

// the `temp` directory will be the storage
$storage = new Nette\Caching\Storages\FileStorage('temp');

The Nette\Caching\Storages\FileStorage storage is very well optimized for performance and in the first place, it provides full atomicity of operations. What does that mean? When we use cache we can be sure we are not reading a file that is not fully written yet (by another thread) or that the file gets deleted "under our hands". Using the cache is therefore completely safe.

For manipulation with cache, we use the Nette\Caching\Cache:

use Nette\Caching\Cache;

$cache = new Cache($storage); // $storage from the previous example

Let's save the contents of the '$data' variable under the '$key' key:

$cache->save($key, $data);

This way, we can read from the cache: (if there is no such item in the cache, the null value is returned)

$value = $cache->load($key);
if ($value === null) ...

Method load() has second parameter callable $fallback, which is called when there is no such item in the cache. This callback receives the array $dependencies by reference, which you can use for setting expiration rules.

$value = $cache->load($key, function(& $dependencies) {
	// some calculation
	return 15;

We could delete the item from the cache either by saving null or by calling remove() method:

$cache->save($key, null);
// or

It's possible to save any structure to the cache, not only strings. The same applies for keys.

Web applications typically consist of a number of independent parts, and if they all cache data in the same storage (for example the same directory), sooner or later there would be collisions in names. Nette Framework solves this by splitting the whole storage to sections (in the FileStorage case using subdirectories). Each part of the application uses it's own section with unique name, therefore no collision can occur. The name of the section can be passed as the second parameter to the Cache class constructor. (These sections are often refered to as //cache namespaces//.)

$cache = new Cache($storage, 'htmlOutput');

Caching Function Results

Caching the result of a function or method call can be achieved using the call() method:

$name = $cache->call('gethostbyaddr', $ip);

The gethostbyaddr($ip) will therefore be called only once and next time, only the value from cache will be returned. Of course, for different $ip, different results are cached.

Output Caching

The output can be cached not only in templates:

if ($block = $cache->start($key)) {

	... printing some data ...

	$block->end(); // save the output to the cache

In case that the output is already present in the cache, the start() method prints it and return null. Otherwise, it starts to buffer the output and returns the $block object using which we finally save the data to the cache.

Expiration and Invalidation

Here come two problems of storing data in the cache. First, there is a possibility that the storage is completely filled and you cannot save more data inside. And it may happen that some od the previously saved data will become invalid over time. Therefore, Nette Framework provides a mechanism, how to limit the validity of data and how to delete them in a controlled way ("to invalidate them", using the framework's terminology).

Data validity is set when saving the data using the third parameter of the save() method:

$cache->save($key, $data, array(
	Cache::EXPIRE => '20 minutes', // accepts also seconds or a timestamp.

It's obvious from the code itself, that we saved the data for next 20 minutes. After this period, the cache will report that there is no record under the '$key' key (ie, will return null). In fact, you can use any time value that is a valid value for PHP function strToTime(). If we want to extend the validity period with each reading, it can be achieved this way:

$cache->save($key, $data, array(
	Cache::EXPIRE => '20 minutes',
	Cache::SLIDING => true,

Very handy is also the ability to let the data expire when a particular file is changed or one of several files. That can be used for stroring data resulting from parsing these files to the cache. For trouble-free functionality, it's recommended to use absolute paths.

$cache->save($key, $data, array(
	Cache::FILES => 'data.yaml', // an array of files can also be specified

The Cache::FILES criteria, of course, can be combined with the time expiration using Cache::EXPIRE etc.

The cache can also depend on other cached items. That can be used when we save the whole HTML page in the cache and under different keys, some of its fragments. As soon as a part changes, the whole page is invalidated.

$cache->save('page', $html, array(
	// will expire if frag1 or frag2 expires
	Cache::ITEMS => array('frag1', 'frag2'),

Expiration can be controlled even by your own callbacks:

function controlExpiration($val)
	return $val;

$cache->save($key, $value, array(
	Cache::CALLBACKS => array(array('controlExpiration', 1)),

Expiration Using Tags and Priority

Very useful invalidation tool are so called //tags//. We can assign a list of tags to each item. For example, suppose we have an HTML page with an article and comments, which we want to cache. So we specify tags when saving to cache:

$cache->save($articleId, $html, array(
	Cache::TAGS => array("article/$articleId", "comments/$articleId"),

Now, let's move to the administration. Here we have a form for article editing. Together with saving the article to a database, we call the clean() command, which will delete cached items by tag:

	Cache::TAGS => array("article/$articleId"),

And in the place for adding new comments (or editing them), don't forget to invalidate appropriate tag:

	Cache::TAGS => array("comments/$articleId"),

What we have achieved? That the HTML cache will invalidate automatically. Whenever someone changes the article with ID of 10, it will force the article/10 tag to invalidate and the tagged HTML page in cache is cleared. The same will happen when someone inserts a new comment below the article.

Similar to tags, you can control expiration by priority:

$cache->save($key, $value, array(
	Cache::PRIORITY => 50,

// all cached items with priority less than or equal to 100 will be removed.
	Cache::PRIORITY => 100,

Cache Storage

In addition to already mentioned FileStorage, Nette Framework also provides MemcachedStorage which stores data to the Memcached server, and also MemoryStorage for storing data in memory for duration of the request. The special DevNullStorage, which does precisely nothing, can be used for testing, when we want to eliminate the influence of caching.

Of course, it's possible to create your own storage. The only requirement is to implement the IStorage interface.

Concurrent Caching

Deleting the cache is a common operation when uploading a new application version to the server. At that moment, however, the server gets pretty hard time, because it has to build a complete new cache. Retrieving some data can be quite difficult, for example the RobotLoader cache building. And moreover, if, say, 30 requests come in a short period, the resource consumption is even higher.

The solution is to modify application behaviour so that data are created only by one thread and others are waiting. To do this, specify the value as a callback or use an anonymous function:

$result = $cache->save($key, function() {
	return buildData(); // difficult operation

Framework will ensure that the body of the function will be called only by one thread at once, and other threads will be waiting. If the thread fails for some reason, another gets chance.