Using the W3 Total Cache Plugin with Thesis

by Martin Malden

Speeding trafficA short while ago I reviewed the W3 Total Cache plugin for WordPress.

Careful chappie that I am, I always review the source code of new articles immediately after they’ve been published, to make sure all my on-page SEO stuff looks OK.

So I was a bit surprised when I reviewed the source code of my last article and found a series of CSS files, which shouldn’t have been there because they’d been added to the Minify function of W3TC.

Or so I thought!

After a bit of hunting around, it turns out that Thesis automatically applies a date stamp to the CSS files whenever they’re updated. This shows up as a string of numeric characters that are appended to the file name and extension – like this:

/style.css?123456-12345

During the process of setting up W3TC you’ll remember that you need to find your CSS and JS files and add them to the appropriate fields in the Minify settings page.

This works perfectly well – unless, of course, you change the filenames!

So, because Thesis appends these date stamps, it’s changing the filename – which W3TC therefore sees as a different file and doesn’t include in the Minify process unless you manually add it.

And, because it’s not in the Minify process, it sits in your source code as a normal CSS file.

Long story short, Chris Pearson is, as we speak, writing a filter which will be released in a new build of Thesis and will address this problem – hopefully this week.

In the meantime, if you’re a Thesis user and experiencing the magical re-appearance of CSS files in your page source, simply add the ‘new’ CSS files to Minify.

Adding these files to the Minify section restores your site’s performance (which does get slightly degraded once the duplicated files are created) and doesn’t have any negative effect.

Or, at least, hasn’t had any negative effects on this site!

I have about 4 versions of the same CSS files added to Minify for this site now :)

As soon as the new filter is released I’ll add an update to this article. So if you’re interested in getting it, leave a comment, click subscribe to comments, and I’ll add the update and leave a comment once it’s available.

(Clicking ‘subscribe to comments’ will ensure you’re notified by my comment when the new filter is ready).

Cheers,

Martin Malden

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Michael Makahamadze November 30, 2010 at 3:56 am

Hi Martin,

Thanks for the great site and such a wonderful post on the W3 total cache plugin in general.

I am using Thesis and have experienced an improvement in speed on my site. However, I am still trying to figure out how to deal with my aweber light-box pop up, which has disappeared. Any ideas on this?

Michael

Martin November 30, 2010 at 8:21 am

Hi Michael,

No – I never did find out how to get my Aweber light box working again. Frederick suggested de-caching that bit of JS, but I didn’t get around to it.

I now use a specific page for sign-ups and, at the moment, it’s producing an excellent sign up rate – in the mid 20% range as opposed to 1 or 2%. It’s still early days and, of course, the volume is not as high, but I’m going to do an article showing the different results once the volume is high enough to be reliable.

So I’ve not bothered with trying to get the light box to work again.

If you find a way let us know – others will be interested :)

Cheers,

Martin.

Matt April 26, 2011 at 9:58 am

Is it fair to say that Pearson never developed this filter? :)

Martin April 27, 2011 at 6:50 am

I don’t believe he did, but I never followed up – it was simpler just to swap out the old file for the new one each time :)

Cheers,

Martin.

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