Tech Talk: HTTP Caching

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This week I prepared a presentation for Uptake’s front end community of practice on HTTP Caching.

The Developer Portal team at Uptake recently overhauled how we performed HTTP caching of static assets for the site.

etags

We began with an etag based validation token strategy for static assets, which required that we validate the freshness of cached static files via HTTP requests to the server on each subsequent page refresh.

This was a waste! Our static files rarely changed (particularly our vendor code and images) so performing these freshness checks just resulted in unnecessary chattiness with the webserver.

chunkhashing and cache-contol

We ended up moving to a webpack chunkhash + cache-control: max-age strategy, which allowed us to cache our static assets in the browser indefinitely.

A chunkhash acts in a similar way as an etag. It is generated based off of the content of your static file: in other words, a chunkhash will only change if the content of your file changes.

Adding a chunkhash to the names of your static assets allows you to cache indefinitely, as the cache will be busted with a new chunkhash the next time the contents change and a bundle with a brand new name is requested. Until the chunkhash changes, it’s ok for clients to continue using the cached version.

We wound up saving an average of around 100ms per page load, and about 2Kb of data over the the etag strategy. Both strategies were very easy to configure. There really isn’t any excuse NOT to be caching static assets!

Find the slides that I presented below. They were heavily inspired from this blog post on HTTP caching by Ilya Grigorik.

If you are on mobile, click here for a PDF of the presentation.

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