I'm implementing a site that allows users to switch stylesheets (to show a high contrast version for people with vision impairments). The switcher essentially just changes the <link>ref to whichever stylesheet is appropriate.

However, I just realised that this will lead to problems when I switch on caching (either using WP Supercache or W3 Total Cache) - as only one version of the page will be cached and thus displayed to the user.

Any thoughts on possible solutions?

  • Can you commit to specific caching plugin or you want more generic solution that will work with any?
    – Rarst
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 16:26
  • @rarst - I don't mind which one is used, so yes, I can commit to a specific plugin.
    – anu
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 16:37

3 Answers 3


I use W3TC, so these are approaches that I can come up with it for it:

  1. Fragment caching to exclude that part of page, will reduce cache effectiveness overall.

  2. Identify page with switched stylesheet by query argument, disable caching of such pages.

  3. Identify page with switched stylesheet by URL endpoint, disable caching of such by mask.

  4. Implement stylesheet switch via JavaScript (not really W3TC-specific).

  • The problem with (2) and (3) is that the switch is a global thing - so I don't think that will work, looks like (1) and (4) are the contenders.
    – anu
    Commented Jul 7, 2011 at 8:13

Idea: If you enqueue the styles, use filemtime() for the version. If it finds changes to your previous stylesheet, caching will be prevented and a new stylesheet gets loaded.

  • FYI, you linked to the german version of the PHP page for filemtime.
    – t31os
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 19:08
  • Damn. Haven't seen, that @Rarst already changed it... Mr. Rarst: Feel free to roll back!
    – kaiser
    Commented Jul 7, 2011 at 0:11
  • 1
    @kaiser - interesting, I'll try this approach out.
    – anu
    Commented Jul 7, 2011 at 8:14

Turns out the answer is fairly simple (at least for WP Supercache).

  1. Use either PHP or legacy caching (ie not mod_rewrite)
  2. Turn on late init (either from the UI - recommended, or by setting $wp_super_cache_late_init = 1; in wp-content/wp-cache-config.php
  3. Use the <!--dynamic-cached-content--> directive to wrap the content that should remain dynamic.

An example:


As you can see, the dynamic content has been added twice - from the WP Supercache FAQ

The first code is executed when the page is cached, while the second chunk of code is executed when the cached page is served to the next visitor.

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