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Timber, especially in conjunction with WordPress and Twig, offers a variety of caching strategies to optimize performance. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the options, ranked in order of most-broad to most-focused.

tl;dr #

In my tests with Debug Bar, Timber has no measurable performance hit. Everything compiles to PHP. @fabpot has an overview of the performance costs on his blog (scroll down to the table).

Cache Everything #

You can still use plugins like W3 Total Cache in conjunction with Timber. In most settings, this will skip the Twig/Timber layer of your files and serve static pages via whatever mechanism the plugin or settings dictate.

Cache the Entire Twig File and Data #

With Timber you can cache the full Timber render/compile calls. When you do this, the whole template you render and its data will be cached. This results in faster page rendering by skipping queries and Twig compilations. But here’s the cool part: Timber hashes the fields in the view context. This means that as soon as the data changes, the cache is automatically invalidated. Yay!

For Timber caching to take effect on your Timber::render() and Timber::compile() calls, you need to set the $expires argument. If the $expires argument is not set, Timber will not cache that particular template, even if the (global)cache mode is set.


$context['posts'] = Timber::get_posts();

Timber::render('index.twig', $context, 600);

In this example, Timber will cache the template for 10 minutes (600 / 60 = 10) with the default cache mode which is "transient". You can change the cache mode for Timber globally or on a per method basis. See Timber cache modes for more information.

This caching method is very effective, but crude - the whole template is cached. So if you have any context dependent sub-views (eg. current user), this mode won’t do.

Timber cache modes #

Timber has 5 cache modes that it can use for the Timber Timber::render() and Timber::compile() methods. The following cache modes are available:

Timber\Loader::CACHE_NONEDisable caching
Timber\Loader::CACHE_OBJECTWP Object Cache
Timber\Loader::CACHE_SITE_TRANSIENTNetwork wide transients
Timber\Loader::CACHE_USE_DEFAULTUse whatever caching mechanism is set as the default for Timber\Loader, the default is CACHE_TRANSIENT.

By default the cache mode is set to transients. You can change the default cache mode globally by using a filter or on a per method basis. We will go over them both.

Set Timber cache mode globally #

The default cache mode can be changed by using the timber/cache/mode filter. For example:

apply_filters('timber/cache/mode', function () {
return Timber\Loader::CACHE_OBJECT;

Sets the global/default cache mode to CACHE_OBJECT.

Set Timber cache mode per compile or render method #

As a fourth parameter for Timber::render() and Timber::compile(), you can set the $cache_mode.

For example:

Timber::render($filenames, $data, 600, Timber\Loader::CACHE_OBJECT);

Cache the Twig File (but not the data) #

Every time you render a .twig file, Twig compiles all the HTML tags and variables into a big, nasty blob of function calls and echo statements that actually gets run by PHP. In general, this is pretty efficient. However, you can cache the resulting PHP blob by turning on Twig’s cache via:


add_filter('timber/twig/environment/options', function ($options) {
$options['cache'] = true;

return $options;

You can look in your your /vendor/timber/timber/cache directory to see what these files look like.

If you want to change the path where Timber caches the Twig files, you can pass in an absolute path for the cache option:

add_filter('timber/twig/environment/options', function ($options) {
$options['cache'] = '/absolute/path/to/twig_cache';

return $options;

This does not cache the contents of the variables. But rather, the structure of the Twig files themselves (i.e. the HTML and where those variables appear in your template). Once enabled, any change you make to a .twig file (just tweaking the HTML for example) will not go live until the cache is flushed.

Thus, during development, you should enable the option for auto_reload:

add_filter('timber/twig/environment/options', function ($options) {
$options['cache'] = true;
$options['auto_reload'] = true;

return $options;

Enabling Timber::$cache works best as a last step in the production process. Once enabled, any change you make to a .twig file (just tweaking the HTML for example) will not go live until the cache is flushed.

Note that when WP_DEBUG is set to true, changes you make to .twig files will be reflected on the site regardless of the Timber::$cache value.

To flush the Twig cache you can do this:

$loader = new Timber\Loader();

Cache Parts of the Twig File and Data #

If you want to use cache tag in Twig, you’ll have to install the twig/cache-extra package:

composer require twig/cache-extra

And register it in Timber like this:


use Symfony\Component\Cache\Adapter\FilesystemAdapter;
use Symfony\Component\Cache\Adapter\TagAwareAdapter;
use Twig\Extra\Cache\CacheExtension;
use Twig\Extra\Cache\CacheRuntime;
use Twig\RuntimeLoader\RuntimeLoaderInterface;

add_filter('timber/twig', function ($twig) {
$twig->addRuntimeLoader(new class implements RuntimeLoaderInterface
public function load($class)
if (CacheRuntime::class === $class) {
return new CacheRuntime(new TagAwareAdapter(new FilesystemAdapter('', 0, TIMBER_LOC . '/cache/twig')));
$twig->addExtension(new CacheExtension());

return $twig;

You can then use it like this:

{% cache 'index;content' %}
{% for post in posts %}
{% include ['tease-' ~ post.post_type ~ '.twig', 'tease.twig'] %}
{% endfor %}
{% endcache %}

Read more about it in Twig’s cache documentation.

If you want to use something meaningful for the cache key, you can also generate a cache key from the variables that you use. In the following example, we generate a cache key from $posts and then generate a key from it:

$generator = new Timber\Cache\KeyGenerator();
$key = $generator->generateKey($posts);

Extra: TimberKeyGeneratorInterface #

Instead of hashing a whole object, you can specify the cache key in the object itself. If the object implements TimberKeyGeneratorInterface, it can pass a unique key through the method get_cache_key(). That way a class could for example pass a 'last_updated' property as the unique key. If arrays contain the key _cache_key, that one is used as cache key.

This may save yet another few processor cycles.

Cache the PHP data #

Sometimes the most expensive parts of the operations are generating the data needed to populate the twig template. You can of course use WordPress’s default Transient API to store this data.

You can also use some syntactic sugar to make the checking/saving/retrieving of transient data a bit easier:


$context = Timber::context();

$context['main_stories'] = TimberHelper::transient('main_stories', function () {
$posts = Timber::get_posts();

// As an example, do something expensive with these posts
$extra_teases = get_field('my_extra_teases', 'options');

foreach ($extra_teases as &$tease) {
$tease = Timber::get_post($tease);

$main_stories = [
'posts' => $posts,
'extra_teases' => $extra_teases,

return $main_stories;
}, 600);

Timber::render('home.twig', $context);

Here main_stories is a totally made-up variable. It could be called foo, bar, elephant, etc.

Measuring Performance #

Some tools like Debug Bar may not properly measure performance because its data (as in, the actual HTML it’s generating to tell you the timing, number of queries, etc.) is swept-up by the page’s cache.

Timber provides some quick shortcuts to measure page timing. Here’s an example of them in action:


// This generates a starting time
$start = Timber\Helper::start_timer();

$context = Timber::context([
'whatever' => get_my_foo(),

Timber::render('single.twig', $context, 600);

// This reports the time diff by passing the $start time
echo Timber\Helper::stop_timer($start);

Important notes #

  • Never use {% spaceless %} tags to minify your HTML output. These tags are only meant to control whitespace between html tags.