Finally, a formal release for my WordPress + Varnish + ESI plugin

A while back I wrote a plugin to take care of a particular client traffic problem. As the traffic came in very quickly and unexpectedly, I had only minutes to come up with a solution. As I knew Varnish pretty well, my initial reaction was to put the site behind Varnish. But, there’s a problem with Varnish and WordPress.

WordPress is a cookie monster. It uses and depends on cookies for almost everything – and Varnish doesn’t cache assets that contain cookies. VCL was modified and tweaked, but, the site was still having problems.

So, a plugin was born. Since I was familiar with ESI, I opted to write a quick plugin to cache the sidebar and the content would be handled by Varnish. On each request, Varnish would assemble the Edge Side Include and serve the page – saving the server from a meltdown.

The plugin was never really production ready, though, I have used it for a year or so when particular client needs came up. When Varnish released 3.0, ESI could work with GZipped/Deflated content which significantly increased the utility of the plugin.

If you would like to read a detailed explanation of how the plugin works and why, here’s the original presentation I gave in Florida.

You can find the plugin on WordPress’s plugin hosting at

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One Response to “Finally, a formal release for my WordPress + Varnish + ESI plugin”

  1. genarg Says:

    I mus say I am impressed. Nice done. Will do some test this weekend and get back to you if something happens. Good Job!

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