Skip to main content

Using HTTP Cache

HTTP Caching in Tailcall is designed to enhance performance and minimize the frequency of requests to upstream services by caching HTTP responses. This guide explains the concept, benefits, and how to effectively implement HTTP caching within Tailcall.

Understanding HTTP Caching

HTTP Caching involves saving copies of HTTP responses to serve identical future requests directly from the cache, bypassing the need for new API calls. This reduces latency, conserves bandwidth, and alleviates the load on upstream services by utilizing a cache keyed by request URLs and headers.

By default, HTTP caching is turned off in Tailcall. Enabling it requires setting the httpCache parameter to integer value which is greater than 0 in the @upstream configuration. Tailcall employs a in-memory Least_Recently_Used (LRU) cache mechanism to manage stored responses, adhering to upstream-provided caching directives like Cache-Control to optimize the caching process and minimize redundant upstream API requests.

Enabling HTTP Caching

To activate HTTP caching, adjust the upstream configuration in Tailcall by setting httpCache to appropriate cache size, as shown in the following example:

@server(port: 4000)
baseURL: ""
httpCache: 42
) {
query: Query

This configuration instructs Tailcall to cache responses from the designated upstream API.

Cache-Control headers in responses

Enabling the cacheControl setting in Tailcall ensures that Cache-Control headers are included in the responses returned to clients. When activated, Tailcall dynamically sets the max-age directive in the Cache-Control header to the minimum max-age value encountered in any of the responses from upstream services. This approach guarantees that the caching duration for the composite response is conservative, aligning with the shortest cache validity period provided by the upstream services. By default, this feature is disabled (false), meaning Tailcall will not modify or add Cache-Control headers unless explicitly instructed to do so. This setting is distinct from the general HTTP cache setting, which controls whether responses are cached internally by Tailcall; cacheControl specifically controls the caching instructions sent to clients.

Here is how you can enable the cacheControl setting within your Tailcall schema to apply these caching instructions:

schema @server(headers: {cacheControl: true}) {
query: Query
mutation: Mutation

Best Practices for Enhancing REST API Performance on GraphQL

The combination of httpCache and cacheControl provides a comprehensive caching solution. While httpCache focuses on internal caching to reduce the impact of high latency and frequent requests, cacheControl manages client-side caching policies, ensuring an optimal balance between performance, data freshness, and efficient resource use.

These caching primitives are beneficial for REST APIs that are latency-sensitive, have a high rate of request repetition, or come with explicit caching headers indicating cacheable responses. Together, they tackle the common challenges of optimizing REST API performance by minimizing unnecessary network traffic and server load while ensuring response accuracy.

To further enhance the performance of any API with Tailcall, integrating the @cache directive offers protocol agnostic control over caching at the field level within a GraphQL schema.