Author image osfameron
and 1 contributors


Attribute::Cached - easily cache subroutines results using a :Cached attribute


    sub getCache { return $global_cache }

    sub foo :Cached(60) { ... }
    sub bar :Cached(time=>30, key=>\&keygen) { ... }

    # or supply a specific cache
    sub baz :Cached(time=>20, cache=>$cache) { ... }


In many applications, including web apps, caching data is used to help scale the sites, trading a slight lack of immediacy in results with a lower load on DB and other resources.

Usually we'll do something like this

    sub my_query {
        my ($self, %pars) = @_;
         # get a cache
        my $cache = $self->get_cache;
         # generate a key: for example with %pars (foo=>1), we might use
         #                 the key "my_query:foo=1";
        my $key = $self->get_key( %pars ); 
        my $result;
         # check if we've already cached this call, and return if so
        if ($result = $cache->get($key)) {
            warn "Cache hit for $key";
            return $result;
         # The next lines are what this subroutine is /actually/ doing
        $result = $self->expensive_operation;
        # ... additional processing as required

         # set the result in the cache for future accesses
        $cache->set($key, $result, 20); # hard code a cache time here

        return $result;

The caching logic is repeated boilerplate and, worse, really has nothing to do with what we're trying to achieve here. With Attribute::Cached we'd write this as:

    sub getCache { my $self = shift; return $self->get_cache(@_) }

    sub my_query :Cached(time=>20, key=>\&get_key) {

        my $result = $self->expensive_operation;
        # ... additional processing as required

        return $result;


The :Cached attribute takes the following parameters


The cache time. This is often a value in seconds. But some cache interfaces require a string like "5 secs". Either an integer or any expression parseable by Attribute::Handlers can be passed in (for example a constant).

If time is the only attribute required, the shortcut form :Cached(CACHE_TIME) is supported too. Alternatively, see the hook getCacheTime to set this dynamically.


The cache must be a "standard" type, conforming to the same interface as Cache::Cache. That is, it should have the usual get and set methods. Specifics can vary (like Cachetime handling, which is specified differently for memcached).

If there is a default cache set in a global variable, you can pass it in like so


Most likely you will want to define the hook getCache instead.


This is a method name or subroutine reference that will generate the appropriate key. There is a default behaviour for this, but it is to join all arguments with commas (including the stringified $self, which is likely not what you want. So this default behaviour may be subject to change in future versions.)

The method is dispatched via the package name, and will be passed

    - package name
    - subroutine name
    - original args passed (including $self if this is an OO method)

If you wanted a single cache key, you could always use :Cached(key=sub{'foo'}})>.

If all the methods in your package use the same keygen, you could define the getCacheKey hook instead.


Usually caches set and return a single scalar value. The subroutine you want to clean up using this module might have had logic with wantarray for example. Setting a transform subroutine lets you do this.

    sub refOrArray { wantarray ? @$_[0] : $_[0]; }
    sub foo :Cached(time=>20, transform=>\&refOrArray) { ... }

You cannot pass a method name to be dispatched (for what seemed like good reasons at the time: patches welcome if that's sufficiently annoying to anyone). However you can define a global hook cacheTransform for your package.


You can define several methods in your class or base class to avoid having to type repeated code.


Define this method to return a cache time dynamically. The package and subroutine name are prepended to the original arguments.

    sub getCacheTime {
        my ($package, $subname, %args) = @_;
        return 20 if $subname eq 'query';
        return 60;

Define this method to return a cache (of the sort specified under cache above.

Only the original arguments are passed. (This behaviour may change). For example, for a Catalyst method which is passed ($self, $c, %args) you might do:

    sub getCache {
        my ($self, $c) = @_;
        return $c->model('Cache');

Define this method to determine the cache key for the method call. As we don't know whether we're dealing with a sub or a method call, the default implementation doesn't try to do anything clever. For now you'd probably want to define something like this:

    sub getCacheKey {
        my ($package, $subname, $self, %args) = @_;
        return join ':', $package, $subname,
            map { "$_=$args{$_}" } keys %args;

The default behaviour may change.


This is the analogue to the transform parameter above.


Automatically wrapping the caching logic requires a slightly generic approach which may not be optimal. The bundled program tries to quantify this. In a sample run of 1,000,000 iterations, it can be seen that the additional work requires approximately 10 millionths of a second per iteration. This is likely to be fast enough for most requirements.

Using the Attribute::Handling (instead of manually using the encache subroutine which does the actual work) appears to be a tiny fraction of the total overhead (1 millionth of a second per iteration).

(Benchmark results on my machine, please give me a shout if you get wildly different results).


The attribute code is "inspired" by Attribute::Memoize, and uses the very funky Attribute::Handlers. This latter seems to be full of very tasty crack, but is also much nicer than doing the attribute parsing ourselves.

You'll need a caching module like Cache::Cache or Cache::Memcached.

The wrapping might be done better with Hook::LexWrap


This is version 0.01, in alpha. The interface is likely to change, as indicated in several places in comments in the above POD. Please get in touch if you have suggestions or concerns about the public API.

Please report via RT on cpan, or to

Or grab osfameron on IRC, for example on


By osfameron, for Thermeon Ltd.

(C)2007 Thermeon Europe

This program is free software, you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.