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Modern Web Apps: Key Caching Strategies on the Server Side

Patterns for modern web application design are incredibly ideal for UX (user experiences). In particular, it provides improvement to the UX in terms of speed and quality. There are two sides to this: Server Side Rendering and Client Side Rendering. Moreover, there’s also Progressive Web Applications.

  • Client Side Rendering – Abbreviated as CSR, it helps the entirety of web pages to be more interactive in the browser it’s being viewed in.
  • Server Side Rendering – Abbreviated as SSR, it’s generally meant for the first page of a CSR website. It’s primarily meant for loading times of the first page. Additionally, it improves indexability.

External Traffic Patterns

There will be quite a lot of shifts in external traffic patterns that can probably happen as a result of this. For example, Application Programming Interface (API) calls will multiply considerably and your backend server might not be able to handle the load. You’re likely going to need an API caching strategy that’s server side so that your backend stays alright. 

The last thing you want is for your web application to be slowed down because of a bottleneck. Prevention is definitely better than having to solve serious server issues.

Server Side Caching

There are several factors to look into when it comes to server side caching. To begin with, it’s not the same as web browser caching at all. The two are meant to work synchronously together to ensure an ideal performance.

HTTP cache invalidation strategies which are ideal for the server side come about when servers and web browsers work together. Their end goal, collectively, is for HTTP requests by a browser to decrease in number. 

Understandably, invalidating the content of an HTTP page cache can seem daunting. Don’t worry; computer science as a whole struggles with cache invalidation strategy creation, particularly ones that are actually efficient.

Some key strategies for cache invalidation are the following:

1. Don’t Cache At All

Foregoing the cache altogether is a choice many people make. Instead, they invest in more hardware that can boost their performance. When there’s a considerable number of pages that aren’t accessed as much, the cache won’t help the website’s performance at all. The contents of a cart on an eCommerce website cannot be cached either since it’s particular to each user. 

2. Make Use of The Cache TTL

The cache can be set to discard content automatically after a certain period. That’s what a time to live (TTL) duration is for, and this can be set for the cache quite easily. 

The caveat here is getting the proper TTL value. If it’s too short, the cache won’t be fully utilised; too long and stale content will get served to visitors.

3. Use Tags on Returned Pages

Having the ability to purge multiple pages through tags is highly beneficial. Pages to tag can be the likes of those with products, categories, and more. When an update gets issued by the backend, the cache will get the signal to purge all content with tags.

Conclusion

Server-side caching strategies are vital for designing modern web applications. It works side-by-side with client-side caching as well. Typical strategies for cache invalidation include using the cache TTL, using tags on returned pages, and not using a cache at all.

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About the author

David Sullivan
Owner of Hosted WP.