Async operations on cached files

Piotr Sikora piotr.sikora at
Wed Dec 29 07:10:09 MSK 2010


> I was wondering what could be a good way to spawn off processes to modify 
> cached file, to perform operations that would be too long to perform as 
> inline filters.
> The practical example I have is running the yui-compressor on JS and CSS 
> files.
> I was thinking that this could be done directly on the cached files 
> themselves, as a process completely decoupled from nginx

Keep in mind that cached files contain metadata, so you cannot just push 
them through yui-compressor.

Other than that, using dedicated task queue seems a lot more appropriate 
than doing this inside nginx.

> but this doesn't seem ideal, and cache->sh->size would probably hold an 
> incorrect value for the total cache size.

Personally, I wouldn't worry too much about cache->sh->size, but if you 
really do then after you're done with compressing .js/.css files, you could 
purge uncompressed files from the cache using ngx_cache_purge [1] and 
replace your original file with compressed one on-disk (this way nginx will 
pick up compressed version from the disk on the next access).

Keep in mind that in this scenario there is (very little) chance for race 
condition, so ideally you should modify ngx_cache_purge to mark content as 
"being updated" instead of "deleted" before removing it from the disk and 
mark it as "updated" after you've replaced it with compressed version.

> Would there be a way to build that directly into nginx?

You could fork(), process cached file in the child process and update cache 
accordingly. This is far from perfect, but for a small number of tasks this 
should be reasonable enough. There are some caveats while forking with "open 
cache" though, check ngx_slowfs_cache [2] for details.

On the side note, you guys (CloudFlare) are talking to "remote backends" and 
nginx it isn't really suited for that (at least not yet, without HTTP/1.1 
and keep-alive support)...  You might get a lot better results using Apache 
Traffic Server, especially considering your aggressive preloading ;)


Best regards,
Piotr Sikora < piotr.sikora at >

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