WP Super Cache, one of the oldest and most widely used static caching plugins for WordPress, is changing hands. After 15 years, the plugin’s author, Donncha Ó Caoimh, is handing over maintenance and development to Jetpack’s performance team.
If you have been building WordPress sites since the early days, you are almost guaranteed to have used WP Super Cache on at least one project (or hundreds). It is based on an earlier plugin called WP Cache 2 that Ó Caoimh forked in 2007 when its author had lost interest and was no longer developing it.
Jetpack’s performance team manages the Jetpack Boost plugin, used by more than 100,000 sites, and the CDN. In today’s announcement, Jetpack assured current users that they will still be able to “enjoy its core features without a new plugin or a connection to Jetpack.”
“We’re excited to start working on WP Super Cache,” Jetpack Performance Lead Mark George said. “Our goal is to create an experience where anyone can make their site extremely fast without being an expert. We want to help make sure that WP Super Cache remains a reliable and easy option for that.”
This change in hands is not an acquisition. Ó Caoimh, who was the very first Automattic employee, confirmed the company did not buy the plugin from him.
“I’ve worked in Automattic since the company was founded, so they’ve supported the development of the plugin all along,” he said. “Really, the plugin is moving sideways in the company, from one developer to a team.
“I just don’t have time to work on it properly. I’m working on other projects, mainly Crowdsignal now, and it was hard to find time to work on it. Jetpack will be able to do a lot more with it than I ever could.”
Ó Caoimh said the support burden for the plugin isn’t that bad, despite it being active on more than two million WordPress sites.
“The plugin has a ‘debug log’ that will log (almost) everything it does to a file, which makes it easier to figure out why a problem is happening a lot of the time,” Ó Caoimh said. “Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I wasn’t able to give the support forums the time it deserved either. Now, a team in Automattic will be helping answer questions and solve problems. It can only be a good thing for users of the plugin.”
Ó Caoimh said handing over maintenance and development to the Jetpack team frees up time for his family and eliminates a source of stress, as he was worried that WP Super Cache wasn’t getting the attention it needed.
“In the past I worked on this late into the night but I have a family, and they come first,” he said.
The Jetpack team already has plans to modernize the plugin and will be investing more resources in support and new features.
“While we research new features to help make WordPress sites cache faster, we will begin updating the WP Super Cache UI to bring it in line with modern standards, so it is easier to use,” Jetpack VP of Marketing Rob Pugh said. “In addition, we’ll be working behind the scenes to ensure it’s compatible with our other performance features like Jetpack Boost.”
After 15 years, it’s impressive that WP Super Cache has maintained a 4.3 out of 5 stars rating on WordPress.org with 1,296 reviews. With the Jetpack team’s resources, support in the forums is likely to improve, and users can expect to see more improvements as the plugin now has a team of people moving it forward.
“I have no regrets handing over the plugin to Jetpack,” Ó Caoimh said. “It’s one thing to create and maintain a plugin that might be used by a handful of sites, but this plugin is used by two million sites. If I introduced a subtle error that impacted people using WordPress in a manner I hadn’t thought of that might cause problems for thousands of websites. The itch that I scratched by creating WP Super Cache has well and truly been scratched and has long healed.”
Thank you so much for many, many years of happiness from using this plugin, Donncha.
This handover is sad news. Looks like the Jetpack team will be taking an “if it ain’t broke, fix it” approach from here, so what is a good alternative in 2022?