Yesterday, Cloudflare announced that they were integrating full page caching into their WordPress plugin – a functionality they term as “APO”. Automatic Platform Optimization is a concept that Cloudflare wants to explore as an avenue for monetization as it costs $5/m for free users, and is automatically included for all pain plans. The announcement is quite a coincidence, because it was only a few days ago that I wrote about the optimum number of caching layers for your website. But as interesting as Cloudflare’s APO is, it’s still not good enough.
At least when you consider the alternatives.
How Cloudflare’s APO Works
Cloudflare already has a plugin that works with WordPress. Yesterday’s announcement was a significant addition to the plugin with Automatic Platform Optimization. When enabled on a compatible plan, it automatically caches all content on your website, including static HTML. This of course, was doable even before with a simple page rule. But the Cloudflare plugin implements a few important changes:
- Automatic page cache clearing based on certain events
- Bypassing cache when the admin cookie is set
- Third party font caching
Limitations of Cloudflare’s APO
For all its awesomeness, there are some things that the new feature doesn’t do. To be fair, it’s quite impressive compared to having nothing at all, or even using the Cloudflare Page Rules, but I’m comparing it to similar plugins that have appeared in the WordPress repository over the years, and here’s where Cloudflare’s solution doesn’t stack up:
- Can’t be used on subdomains containing WordPress
- Cache bypass works only for a small handful of cookies
- Cache purging is restricted to a small set of events
- List of URLs not cached isn’t configurable
Compare this to a plugin like WP Cloudflare Super Page Cache that allows you to generate logs, configure non-cacheable URL parameters, strip cookies, and a lot more. For example, here’s a list of page types that you can exclude from caching:
And this is just a small taste of the vast range of configuration options for this plugin, which I right now consider to be the gold standard for Cloudflare caching. So until Cloudflare achieves this level of customization, I don’t believe that it’s the best solution for managing the caching of static HTML pages.
APO Is Coming to Other Platforms Too
Though WordPress is the most popular CMS on the web right now, it’s far from the only one. The Cloudflare team has revealed that APO is coming to other platforms as well. Just like in their WAF, which has separate rulesets for different CMSs, new APO plugins can be made in the future for platforms like Joomla!.
Distributed Web Hosting – the Future?
We might be witnessing the beginnings of a revolution in web hosting. Where content itself is now spread out across the world in datacenters in each country. Previously it was just static content, but now we can start serving dynamic content as well. It’s a very exciting development. Who knows what the end result will be?
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!