Posts Tagged ‘esi’

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

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

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

When to Cache, What to Cache, How to Cache

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

This post is a version of the slideshow presentation I did at Hack and Tell in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at The Collide Factory on Saturday, April 2, 2011. These are 5 minute talks where each slide auto-advances after fifteen seconds which limits the amount of detail that can be conveyed.

A brief introduction

What makes a page load quickly? While we can look at various metrics, there are quite a few things that impact pageloads. While the page can be served quickly, the design of the page can often times impact the way that the page is rendered in the browser which can make a site appear to be sluggish. However, we’re going to focus on the mechanics of what it takes to get a page to serve quickly.

The Golden Rule – do as few calculations as possible to hand content to your surfer.

But my site is dynamic!

Do you really need to calculate the last ten posts entered on your blog every time someone visits the page? Surely you could cache that and purge the cache when a new post is entered. When someone adds a new comment, purge the cache and let it be recalculated once.

But my site has user personalization!

Can that personalization be broken into it’s own section of the webpage? Or, is it created by a cacheable function within your application? Even if you don’t support fragment caching on the edge, you can emulate that by caching your expensive SQL queries or even portions of your page.

Even writing a generated file to a static file and allowing your webserver to serve that static file provides an enormous boost. This is what most of the caching plugins for WordPress do. However, they are page caching, not fragment caching, which means that the two most expensive queries that WordPress executes, Category list and Tag Cloud, are generated each time a new page is hit until that page is cached.

One of the problems with high performance sites is the never-ending quest for that Time to First Byte. Each load balancer or proxy in front adds some latency. It also means a page needs to be pre-constructed before it is served, or, you need to do a little trickery. This eliminates being able to do any dynamic processing on the page in order to hand a response back as quickly as possible unless you’ve got plenty of spare computing horsepower.

With this, we’re left with a few options to have a dynamic site that has the performance of a statically generated site.

Amazon was one of the first to embrace the Page and Block method by using Mason, a mod_perl based framework. Each of the blocks on the page was generated ahead of time, and only the personalized blocks were generated ‘late’. This allowed the frontend to assemble these pieces, do minimal work to display the personal recommendations and present the page quickly.

Google took a different approach by having an immense amount of computing horsepower behind their results. Google’s method probably isn’t cost effective for most sites on the Internet.

Facebook developed bigpipe which generates pages and then dynamically loads portions of the page into the DOM units. This makes the page load quickly, but in stages. The viewer sees the rough page quickly as the rest of the page fills in.

The Presentation begins here

Primary Goal

Fast Pageloads – We want the page to load quickly and render quickly so that the websurfer doesn’t abandon the site.

Increased Scalability – Once we get more traffic, we want the site to be able to scale and provide websurfers with a consistent, fast experience while the site grows.

Metrics We Use

Time to First Byte – This is a measure of how quickly the site responds to an incoming request and starts sending the first byte of data. Some sites have to take time to analyze the request, build the page, etc before sending any data. This lag results in the browser sitting there with a blank screen.

Time to Completion – We want the entire page to load quickly enough that the web surfer doesn’t abandon. While we can do some tricky things with chunked encoding to fool websurfers into thinking our page loads more quickly than it really does, for 95% of the sites, this is a decent metric.

Number of Requests – The total number of requests for a page is a good indicator of overall performance. Since most browsers will only request a handful of static assets from a page per hostname, we can use a CDN, embed images in CSS or use Image Sprites to reduce the number of requests.

Why Cache?

Expecting Traffic

When we have an advertising campaign or holiday promotion going on, we don’t know what our expected traffic level might be, so, we need to prepare by having the caching in place.

Receiving Traffic

If we receive unexpected publicity, or our site is listed somewhere, we might cache to allow the existing system to survive a flood of traffic.

Fighting DDOS

When fighting a Distributed Denial of Service Attack, we might use caching to avoid the backend servers from getting overloaded.

Expecting Traffic

There are several types of caching we can do when we expect to receive traffic.

* Page Cache – Varnish/Squid/Nginx provide page caching. A static copy of the rendered page is held and updated from time to time either by the content expiring or being purged from the cache.
* Query Cache – MySQL includes a query cache that can help on repetitive queries.
* Wrap Queries with functions and cache – We can take our queries and write our own caching using a key/value store, avoiding us having to hit the database backend.
* Wrap functions with caching – In Python, we can use Beaker to wrap a decorator around a function which does the caching magic for us. Other languages have similar facilities.

Receiving Traffic

* Page Caching – When we’re receiving traffic, the easiest thing to do is to put a page cache in place to save the backend/database servers from getting overrun. We lose some of the dynamic aspects, but, the site remains online.

* Fragment Caching – With fragment caching, we can break the page into zones that have separate expiration times or can be purged separately. This can give us a little more control over how interactive and dynamic the site appears while it is receiving traffic.

DDOS Handling

* Slow Client/Vampire Attacks – Certain DDOS attacks cause problems with some webserver software. Recent versions of Apache and most event/poll driven webservers have protection against this.
* Massive Traffic – With some infrastructures, we’re able to filter out the traffic ahead of time – before it hits the backend.

Caching Easy, Purging Hard

Caching is scaleable. We can just add more caching servers to the pool and keep scaling to handle increased load. The problem we run into is keeping a site interactive and dynamic as content needs to be updated. At this point, purging/invalidating cached pages or regions requires communication with each cache.

Page Caching

Some of the caching servers that work well are Varnish, Squid and Nginx. Each of these allows you to do page caching, specify expire times, and handle most requests without having to talk to the backend servers.

Fragment Caching

With Edge Side Includes or a Page and Block Construction can allow you to cache pieces of the page as shown in the following diagram. With this, we can individually expire pieces of the page and allow our front end cache, Varnish, to reassemble the pieces to serve to the websurfer.

Cache Methods

* Hardware – Hard drives contain caches as do many controller cards.
* SQL Cache – adding memory to keep the indexes in memory or enabling the SQL query cache can help.
* Redis/Memcached – Using a key/value store can keep requests from hitting rotational media (disks)
* Beaker/Functional Caching – Either method can use a key/value store, preferably using RAM rather than disk, to prevent requests from having to hit the database backend.
* Edge/Frontend Caching – We can deploy a cache on the border to reduce the number of requests to the backend.

OS Buffering/Caching

* Hardware Caching on drive – Most hard drives today have caches – finding one with a large cache can help.
* Caching Controller – If you have a large ‘hot set’ of data that changes, using a caching controller can allow you to put a gigabyte or more RAM to avoid having to hit the disk for requests. Make sure you get the battery backup card just in case your machine loses power – those disk writes are often reported as completed before they are physically written to the disk.
* Linux/FreeBSD/Solaris/Windows all use RAM for caching

MySQL Query Cache

The MySQL Query cache is simple yet effective. It isn’t smart and doesn’t cache based on query plan, but, if your code base executes queries where the arguments are in the same order, it can be quite a plus. If you are dynamically creating queries, assembling the queries to try and keep the conditions in the same order will help.


* Key Value Store – you can store frequently requested data in memory.
* Nginx can read rendered pages right from Memcached.

Both methods use RAM rather than hitting slower disk media.

Beaker/Functional Caching

With Python, we can use the Beaker decorator to specify caching. This insulates us from having to write our own handler.

Edge/Front End Caching

* Define blocks that can be cached, portions of the templates.
* Page Caching
* JSON (CouchDB) – Even JSON responses can run behind Varnish.
* Bigpipe – Cache the page, and allow javascript to assemble the page.

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

When possible, use a Content Delivery Network to store static assets off net. This adds a separate hostname and sometimes a separate domain name which allows most browsers to fetch more resources at the same time. Preferably you want to use a separate domain name that won’t have any cookies set – which cuts down on the size of the request object sent from the browser to the server with the static assets.


Facebook uses a technology called Bigpipe which caches the page template and the javascript required to build the page. Once that has loaded, Javascript fetches the data and builds the page. Some of the json data requested is also cached, leading to a very compact page being loaded and built while you’re viewing the page.

Google’s Answer

Google has spent many years building a tremendous distributed computer. When you request a site, their frontend servers use a deadline scheduler and request blocks from their advertising, personalization, search results and other page blocks. The page is then assembled and returned to the web surfer. If any block doesn’t complete quickly enough, it is left out from assembly – which motivates the advertising department to make sure their block renders quickly.

What else can we do?

* Reduce the number of calculations required to serve a page
* Reduce the number of disk operations
* Reduce the network Traffic

In general, do as few calculations as possible while handing the page to the surfer.

WordPress, Varnish and ESI Plugin

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

This post is a version of the slideshow presentation I did at Hack and Tell in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at The Whitetable Foundation on Saturday, June 4, 2011.

Briefly, I created a Plugin that enabled Fragment Caching with WordPress and Varnish. The problem we ran into with normal page caching methods was related to the fact that this particular client had people visiting many pages per visit, requiring the sidebar to be regenerated on uncached (cold) pages. By caching the sidebar and the page and assembling the page using Edge Side Includes, we can cache the sidebar which contains the most database intensive queries separately from the page. Thus, a visitor moving from one page to a cold page, only needs to wait for the page to generate and pull the sidebar from the cache.

What problem are we solving?

We had a high traffic site where surfers visited multiple pages, and, a very interactive site. Surfers left a lot of comments which meant we were constantly purging the page cache. This resulted in the sidebar having to be regenerated numerous times – even when it wasn’t truly necesssary.

What are our goals?

First, we want that Time to First Byte to be as quick as possible – surfers hate to wait and if you have a site that takes 12 seconds before they see any visible indication that there is something happening, most will leave.

We needed to keep the site interactive, which meant purging pages from cache when posts were made.

We had to have fast pageloads – accomplished by caching the static version of the page and doing as few calculations as possible to deliver the content.

We needed fast static content loading. Apache does very well, but, isn’t the fastest webserver out there.

How does the WordPress front page work?

The image above is a simple representation of a page that has a header, an article section where three articles are shown and a sidebar. Each of those elements is built from a number of SQL queries, assembled and displayed to the surfer. Each plugin that is used, especially filter plugins that look at content and modify it before output add a little latency – resulting in a slower page display.

How does an Article page work?

An article page works very similar to the frontpage except our content block now only contains the contents from one post. Sometimes additional plugins are called to display the post content dealing with comments, social media sharing icons, greetings based on where you’re visiting from (Google, Digg, Reddit, Facebook, etc) and many more. We also see the same sidebar on our site which contains the site navigation, advertisements and other content.

What Options do we Have?

There are a number of existing caching plugins that I have benchmarked in the past. Notably we have:

* WP-Varnish
* W3 Total Cache
* WP Super Cache
* WordPress-Varnish-ESI
* and many others

Page Caching

With Page Caching, you take the entire generated page and cache it either in ram or on disk. Since the page doesn’t need to be generated from the database, the static version of the page is served much more quickly.

Fragment Caching

With Fragment Caching, we’re able to cache the page and a smaller piece that is often repeated, but, perhaps doesn’t change as often as the page. When a websurfer comments on a post, the sidebar doesn’t need to be regenerated, but, the page does.

WordPress and Varnish

Varnish doesn’t deal well with cookies, and WordPress uses a lot of cookies to maintain information about the current web surfer. Some plugins also add their own cookies to track things so that their plugin works.

Varnish can do domain name normalization which may be desired or not. Many sites redirect the bare domain to the If you do this, you can modify your Varnish Cache Language (VCL) to make sure it always hands back the proper host header.

There are other issues with Varnish that affect how well it caches. There are a number of situations where Varnish doesn’t work as you would expect, but, this can all be addressed with VCL.

Purging – caching is easy, purging is hard once you graduate beyond a single server setup.

WordPress and Varnish with ESI

In this case, our plugin caches the page and the sidebar separately, and allows Varnish to assemble the page prior to sending it to the server. This is going to be a little slower than page caching, but, in the long run, if you have a lot of page to page traffic, having that sidebar cached will make a significant impact.

Possible Solutions

You could hardcode templates and write modules to cache CPU or Database heavy widgets and in some cases, that is a good solution.

You could create a widget that handles the work to cache existing widgets. There is a plugin called Widget Cache, but, I didn’t find it to have much benefit when testing.

Many of the plugins could be rewritten to use client-side javascript. This way, caching would allow the javascript to be served and the actual computational work would be done on the client’s web browser.

Technical Problems

When the plugin was originally written, Varnish didn’t support compressing ESI assembled pages which resulted in a very difficult to manage infrastructure.

WordPress uses a lot of cookies which need to be dealt with very carefully in Varnish’s configuration.

What sort of Improvement?

Before the ESI Widget After the ESI Widget
12 seconds time to first byte .087 seconds time to first byte
.62 requests per second 567 requests per second
Huge number of elements Moved some elements to a ‘CDN’ url

WordPress Plugin

In the above picture, we can see the ESI widget has been added to the sidebar, and we’ve added our desired widgets to the new ESI Widget Sidebar.

Varnish VCL – vcl_recv

sub vcl_recv {
    if (req.request == "BAN") {
       ban(" == " + +
              "&& req.url == " + req.url);
       error 200 "Ban added";
    if (req.url ~ "\.(gif|jpg|jpeg|swf|css|js|flv|mp3|mp4|pdf|ico|png)(\?.*|)$") {
      unset req.http.cookie;
      set req.url = regsub(req.url, "\?.*$", "");
    If (!(req.url ~ "wp-(login|admin)")) {
      unset req.http.cookie;

In vcl_recv, we set up rules to allow the plugin to purge content, we do a little manipulation to cache static assets and ignore some of the cache breaking arguments specified after the ? and we aggressively remove cookies.

Varnish VCL – vcl_fetch

sub vcl_fetch {
  if ( (!(req.url ~ "wp-(login|admin)")) || (req.request == "GET") ) {
                unset beresp.http.set-cookie;
  set beresp.ttl = 12h;

  if (req.url ~ "\.(gif|jpg|jpeg|swf|css|js|flv|mp3|mp4|pdf|ico|png)(\?.*|)$") {
    set beresp.ttl = 365d;
  } else {
    set beresp.do_esi = true;

Here, we remove cookies set by the backend. We set our timeout to 12 hours, overriding any expire time. Since the widget purges cached content, we can set this to a longer expiration time – eliminating additional CPU and database work. For static asset, we set a one year expiration time, and, if it isn’t a static asset, we parse it for ESI. The ESI parsing rule needs to be refined considerably as it currently parses objects that wouldn’t contain ESI.

Did Things Break?

Purging broke things and revealed a bug in PHP’s socket handling.

Posting Comments initially broke as a result of cookie handling that was a little too aggressive.

Certain plugins break that rely on being run on each pageload such as WP Greet Box and many of the Post Count and Statistics plugins.

Apache logs are rendered virtually useless since most of the queries are handled by Varnish and never hit the backend. You can log from varnishncsa, but, Google Analytics or some other webbug statistics program is a little easier to use.

End Result

Varnish 3.0, currently in beta, allows compression of ESI assembled pages, and, now can accept compressed content from the backend – allowing the Varnish server to exist at a remote location, possibly opening up avenues for companies to provide Varnish hosting in front of your WordPress site using this plugin.

Varnish ESI powered sites became much easier to deploy with 3.0. Before 2.0, you needed to run Varnish to do the ESI assembly, then, into some other server like Nginx to compress the page before sending it to the surfer, or, you would be stuck handing uncompressed pages to your surfers.

Other Improvements

* Minification/Combining Javascript and CSS
* Proper ordering of included static assets – i.e. include .css files before .js, use Async javascript includes.
* Spriting images – combining smaller images and using CSS to alter the display port resulting in one image being downloaded rather than a dozen tiny social media buttons.
* Inline CSS for images – if your images are small enough, they could be included inline in your CSS – saving an additional fetch for the web browser.
* Multiple sidebars – currently, the ESI widget only handles one sidebar.

How can I get the code?

WordPress Varnish ESI Widget is back. Thank you Varnish.

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Long ago I wrote the WordPress ESI Widget to help a client’s site stay online during a barrage of traffic. To solve some of the performance problems on high traffic WordPress sites, you have to use caching, but almost all of the caching addons for WordPress do page level caching rather than fragment caching. After the site’s traffic slowed, I stopped development on the widget due to the infrastructure required to support compression.

To compress an ESI assembled page, one needed to run Nginx in front of Varnish and lost some performance as a result. Nginx would take the initial request, pass it to Varnish, Varnish would talk to the backend — which could be the same Nginx server in a somewhat complex configuration — grab the parts, assemble it, hand it back to Nginx which would then compress it and hand it to the surfer.

With Varnish compressing ESI assembled pages, we don’t need the incredibly complex configuration to run ESI. We’re left with a very simple front end cache in front of our backend servers.

Why is Fragment Caching important?

Fragment caching allows the cache to store pieces of the page that may repeat on several pages and assemble those pieces with the rest of the page. The sidebar on your WordPress site only needs to be generated once as someone surfs through your site. This changes the nature of WordPress caching considerably. Compared to the fastest existing WordPress caching plugin, the Varnish ESI widget doubled its performance – bested only by WP Varnish, a plugin that ran Varnish directly and managed cache expiration.

ESI explained simply is probably the best example I have ever found for explaining how ESI works.

But something else is faster

WP Varnish is currently faster, and, for all practical purposes probably always will be on a very busy site. However, on a site that gets a lot of traffic on one page, the second page time to first byte should be faster on an ESI assembled page because the sidebar which contains some of the most computationally expensive parts of the page, doesn’t need to be generated again. While we give up some of the raw speed, we gain an advantage when someone clicks through to read the second page. The perfect use case here is getting publicity for a particular post on your WordPress site, and those surfers decide to read other articles you’ve written.

Varnish’s Original Announcement

From: Poul-Henning Kamp
Date: January 25, 2011 6:04:02 AM EST
Subject: Please help break Varnish GZIP/ESI support before 3.0

One of the major features of Varnish 3.0 is now feature complete, and
I need people to start beating it up and help me find the bugs before
we go into the 3.0 release cycle.

GZIP support

Varnish will ask the backend for gzip'ed objects by default and for
the minority of clients that do not grok that, ungzip during delivery.

If the backend can not or will not gzip the objects, varnish can be
told in VCL to gzip during fetch from the backend.  (It can also
gunzip, but I don't know why would you do that ?)

In addition to bandwidth, this should save varnish storage (one gzip
copy, rather than two copies, one gzip'ed one not).

GZIP support is on by default, but can be disabled with a parameter.

ESI support

Well, we have ESI support already, the difference is that it also
understands GZIP'ing.  This required a total rewrite of the ESI
parser, much improving the readability of it, I might add.

So now you can use ESI with compression, something that has hitherto
been a faustian bargain, often requiring an afterburner of some kind
to do the compression.

There are a lot of weird cornercases in this code, (such as including
a gzip'ed object in an uncomressed object) so this code really needs
beaten up.

Original message

What else is there?

Another very important fact is that Varnish will use gzip to request assets from the backend. While this doesn’t sound incredibly important, it is. Now, you can run a Varnish server at another data center and not worry as much about latency. Before this version, any ESI assembled page needed to be fetched uncompressed, and, large pages add tiny bits of latency which result in a poorer experience while surfing. Most installations run Varnish on the same machine or on a machine network topologically close, but, this opens the doors for a CDN to run ESI enabled edge servers to supercharge your WordPress site hosted anywhere.

When will it be here?

Varnish moves quickly, and while the changes are substantial in terms of code rewrites, their code is very well written. I don’t expect we’ll see many bugs in the code and it’ll be released in the next few months. This site and a number of other sites we work with will be running it later this week.

In short, caching for WordPress just got an incredible boost. Even before the compression and gzip request from the backend, the ESI Widget was twice as fast as the fastest non-Varnish enabled plugin and over 440 times faster than WordPress out of the box.

Original Info

* WordPress Cache Plugin Benchmarks
* WordPress, Varnish and Edge Side Includes
* ESI Widget Issues in the Varnish, ESI, WordPress experiment
* A WordPress Widget that Enables one to use Varnish and ESI

Django CMS to support Varnish and Akamai ESI

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Many years ago I ran into a situation with a client where the amount of traffic they were receiving was crushing their dynamically created site. Computation is always the enemy of a quick pageload, so, it is very important to do as little computation as possible when delivering a page.

While there are many ways to put together a CMS, high traffic CMS sites usually involve caching or lots of hardware. Some write static files which are much less strenuous, but, you lose some of the dynamic capabilities. Fragment caching becomes a method to make things a bit more dynamic as MasonHQ does with their page and block structure. Django-blocks was surely influenced by this or reinvented this method.

In order to get the highest performance out of a CMS with a page and block method, I had considered writing a filesystem or inode linklist that would allow the webserver to assemble the page by following the inodes on the disk to build the page. Obviously there are some issues here, but, if a block was updated by a process, it would automatically be reassembled. This emulates a write-through cache and would have provisions for dynamic content to be mixed in with the static content on disk. Assembly of the page still takes more compute cycles than a static file but is significantly less than dynamically creating the page from multiple queries.

That design seriously limits the ability to deploy the system widely. While I can control the hosting environment for personal projects, the CMS couldn’t gain wide acceptance. While Varnish is a rather simple piece of software to install, it does limit deploy-ability, but, provides a significant piece of the puzzle due to Edge Side Includes (ESI). If the CMS gets used beyond personal and small deployments, Akamai supports Edge Side Includes as well.

Rather than explain ESI, ESI Explained Simply contains about the best writeup I’ve seen to date to explain how ESI can be used.

The distinction here is using fragment caching controlled by ESI to represent different zones on the page. As a simple example, lets consider our page template contains an article and a block with the top five articles on the site. When a new post is added, we can expire the block that contains the top five articles so that it is requested on the next page fetch. Since the existing article didn’t change, the interior ESI included block doesn’t need to be purged. This allows the page to be constructed on the Edge rather than on the Origin server.

As I have worked with a number of PHP frameworks, none really met my needs so I started using Python frameworks roughly two years ago. For this CMS, I debated using Pylons or Django and ended up choosing Django. Since both can be run behind WSGI compliant servers, we’ve opened ourselves up to a number of potential solutions. Since we are running Varnish in front of our Origin server, we can run Apache2 with mod_wsgi, but, we’re not limited to that configuration. At this point, we have a relatively generic configuration the CMS can run on, but, there are many other places we can adapt the configuration for our preferences.

Some of the potential caveats:
* With Varnish or Akamai as a frontend, we need to pay closer attention to X-Forwarded-For:
* Web logs won’t exist because Varnish is serving and assembling the pages (There is a trick using ESI that could be employed if logging was critical)
* ESI processed pages with Varnish are not compressed. This is on their wishlist.

* Content can exist in multiple categories or tags
* Flexible URL mapping
* Plugin architecture for Blocks and Elements
* Content will maintain revisions and by default allow comments and threaded comments

* Template – the graphical layout of the page with minimal CMS markup
* Element – the graphical template that is used to render a Block
* Block – a module that generates the data rendered by an Element
* Page – a Page determined by a Title, Slug and elements
* Content – The actual data that rendered by a block

* Flexible enough to handle something as simple as a personal blog, but, also capable of powering a highly trafficed site.
* Data storage of common elements to handle publishing of content and comments with the ability to store information to allow threaded comments. This would allow the CMS to handle a blog application, a CMS, or, a forum.
* A method to store ancillary data in a model so that upgrades to the existing database model will not affect developed plugins.
* Block system to allow prepackaged css/templating while allowing local replacement without affecting the default package.
* Upgrades through pypy or easy_install.
* Ability to add CDN/ESI without needing to modify templates. The system will run without needing to be behind Varnish, but, its full power won’t be realized without Varnish or Akamai in front of the origin server.
* Seamless integration of affiliate referral tracking and conversion statistics

At this point, the question in my mind was whether or not to start with an existing project and adapt it or start from scratch. At this point, the closest Django CMS I could find was Django-Blocks and I do intend to look it over fairly closely, but, a cursory look showed the authors were taking it in a slightly different direction than I anticipated. I’ll certainly look through the code again, but, the way I’ve envisioned this, I think there are some fundamental points that clash.

As I already have much of the database model written for an older PHP CMS that I wrote, I’m addressing some of the shortcomings I ran across with that design and modifying the models to be a little more generic. While I am sure there are proprietary products that currently utilize ESI, I believe my approach is unique and flexible enough to power everything from a blog to a site or forums or even a classified ads site.

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