A plugin for the Merb framework that provides caching stores, strategies and helpers.


Stores usually set up in application init file (init.rb) or environment specific init file (so you can use different stores for production, staging and development environment if you need to).

# create a fundamental memcache store named :memcached for localhost

dependency “merb-cache” do

Merb::Cache.setup do
  register(:memcached, MemcachedStore, :namespace => "my_app", :servers => [""])


# a default FileStore dependency “merb-cache” do

Merb::Cache.setup do


# another FileStore dependency “merb-cache” do

Merb::Cache.setup do
  register(:tmp_cache, FileStore, :dir => "/tmp")


Now lets see how we can use stores in the application:

class Tag

def find(parameters = {})
  # poor man's identity map

  if Merb::Cache[:memcached].exists?("tags", parameters)
    Merb::Cache[:memcached].read("tags", parameters)
    results = super(parameters)
    Merb::Cache[:memcached].write("tags", results, parameters)


def popularity_rating
  # lets keep the popularity rating cached for 30 seconds
  # merb-cache will create a key from the model's id & the interval parameter

  Merb::Cache[:memcached].fetch(, :interval => / 30) do


Or, if you want to use memcache’s built in expire option:

# expire a cache entry for “bar” (identified by the key “foo” and # parameters => :bay) in two hours Merb::Cache.write(“foo”, “bar”, => :bay, :expire_in => 2.hours)

# this will fail, because FileStore cannot expire cache entries Merb::Cache.write(“foo”, “bar”, => :bay, :expire_in => 2.hours)

# writing to the FileStore will fail, but the MemcachedStore will succeed Merb::Cache[:default, :memcached].write(“foo”, “bar”, => :bay, :expire_in => 2.hours)

# this will fail Merb::Cache[:default, :memcached].write_all(“foo”, “bar”, => :bay, :expire_in => 2.hours)

Setting up strategy stores is very similar to fundamental stores:

Merb::Cache.setup do

# wraps the :memcached store we setup earlier
register(:zipped, GzipStore[:memcached])

# wrap a strategy store
register(:sha_and_zip, SHA1Store[:zipped])

# you can even use unnamed fundamental stores
register(:zipped_images, GzipStore[FileStore],
          :dir => Merb.root / "public" / "images")

# or a combination or strategy & fundamental stores
register(:secured, SHA1Store[GzipStore[FileStore], FileStore],
          :dir => Merb.root / "private")


You can use these strategy stores exactly like fundamental stores in your app code.

Action & Page Caching Action & page caching have been implemented in strategy stores. So instead of manually specifying which type of caching you want for each action, you simply ask merb-cache to cache your action, and it will use the fastest cache available.

First, let’s setup our page & action stores:


Merb::Cache.setup do

  # the order that stores are setup is important 
  # faster stores should be setup first 

  # page cache to the public dir
  register(:page_store, PageStore[FileStore], 
                    :dir => Merb.root / "public") 

  # action cache to memcache 
  register(:action_store, ActionStore[:sha_and_zip]) 

  # sets up the ordering of stores when attempting to read/write cache entries 
  register(:default, AdhocStore[:page_store, :action_store])


And now in our controller: class Tags < Merb::Controller

# index & show will be page cached to the public dir. The index 
# action has no parameters, and the show parameter's are part of 
# the URL, making them both page-cache'able 
cache :index, :show 

def index 

def show(:slug) 
  display Tag.first(:slug => slug) 


Our controller now page caches but the index & show action. Furthermore, the show action is cached separately for each slug parameter automatically.

class Tags < Merb::Controller

# the term is a route param, while the page & per_page params are part of the query string. 
# If only the term param is supplied, the request can be page cached, but if the page and/or 
# per_page param is part of the query string, the request will action cache. 
cache :catalog 

def catalog(term = 'a', page = 1, per_page = 20) 
  @tags = Tag.for_term(term).paginate(page, per_page) 

  display @tags 


Because the specific type of caching is not specified, the same action can either be page cached or action cached depending on the context of the request.

Keeping a “Hot” Cache

Cache expiration is a constant problem for developers. When should content be expired? Should we “sweep” stale content? How do we balance serving fresh content and maintaining fast response times? These are difficult questions for developers, and are usually answered with ugly code added across our models, views, and controllers. Instead of designing an elaborate caching and expiring system, an alternate approach is to keep a “hot” cache.

So what is a “hot” cache? A hot cache is what you get when you ignore trying to manually expire content, and instead focus on replacing old content with fresh data as soon as it becomes stale. Keeping a hot cache means no difficult expiration logic spread out across your app, and will all but eliminate cache misses.

The problem until now with this approach has been the impact on response times. If the request has to wait on any pages that it has made stale to render the fresh version, it can slow down the response time dramatically. Thankfully, Merb has the run_later method which allows the fresh content to render after the response has been sent to the browser. It’s the best of both worlds. Here’s an example.

class Tags &lt; Merb::Controller

cache :index 
eager_cache :create, :index 

def index 
  display Tag.all 

def create(slug) 
  @tag = 

  # redirect them back to the index action 
  redirect url(:tags) 


The controller will eager_cache the index action whenever the create action is successfully called. If the client were to post a new tag to the create action, they would be redirect back to the index action. Right after the response had been sent to the client, the index action would be rendered with the newly created tag included and replaced in the cache. So when the user requests for the index action gets to the server, the freshest version is already in the cache, and the cache miss is avoided. This works regardless of the way the index action is cached.

Hot cache helps fight dog pile effect ( but should be used with caution. It's great when you want to eagerly cache some page that user is not going to see immediately after creating/updating something because hot cache in current implementation uses worker queue (knows as run_later) and it does not guarantee that before redirect hits the action data is gonna be already cached.

A good use case of eager caching is front end page of some newspaper site when staff updates site content, and is not redirected to page that uses new cache values immediately, but other users access it frequently.