I believe in healthy competition.

Rivals, professionally and personally, have the ability to inspire us to reach great heights. They also have the ability to be terrible, but when a true rival, who respects you and your work, arrives, they should be embraced.

The other day I said that I would love to see a W3TC killer. Killer was the wrong word, as what I mean is that I would love to see something as amazing as W3TC that reaches out and tackles caching in a new and inventive way. I’d also love to see a WordPress killer, an iPhone killer, and a Linux killer. And a Hybrid Car killer.

I don’t mean I want any of those things to fail, I mean I want to see them have a challenger who does what they do, differently, in a way that inspires them to do more and more and better.

Growth stagnates without good rivalry. When you have a rival who does what you do, and they succeed, you want to succeed. When you’re both healthy rivals, you can carry it even further. Reaching out to your rivals and telling them “I am impressed with how you did X! Nice job!” is the greatest gift. With WordPress code, taking a leaf from their book and forking some of their code (with credit) is another way to hat-tip them.

In truth, W3TC and WP Super Cache never really competed. They can’t. They have wildly different approaches to just about everything, and they’re not even ‘after’ the same customer base. WP Super Cache appeals to people with it’s simplicity and directness. It works and you can (mostly) ignore it. W3TC has an insanely deep and complex set of tools that works closer to the base level of a server. W3TC has options, oh my god it has options, and they can overwhelm.

But the real crux to all this, besides the take away that caching is hella hard, is that there is always more than one way to solve a problem. And there is always room for multiple solutions in any ecosystem. It comes down to needs, wants, and user preferences. Both plugins I’ve named here do a great job at meeting the needs for their audiences. And both plugins grew out of someone’s need. Donnacha and Fredrick both created something to solve their own problems. They shared these solutions with the world and became unintentional rivals and kings of caching.

Okay so back to what I said.

Should there be a ‘killer’ caching plugin? Will there be one?

Maybe.

There should never be one killer app, no matter what it is. There should never be one perfect solution. Mostly because I don’t believe there’s such a thing. There’s nothing we can create that will suit everyone’s needs and wants. It’s statistically impossible. So when we talk about a ‘killer’ anything we never mean that. We mean “There should be options and the options creators should be healthy competition with each other to create some awesome things.”

And I really truly thing we should do that. I would love to see someone tackle WordPress with a serious self-hosted alternative. Something easier to install on my own than Ghost, but as easy as Hugo or Jekyll to write a post. Something extendable like Drupal, but with better backwards compatibility. Something next. And I want to see WordPress take what it learns from those other tools to become even more.

Because healthy rivalry between friends and equals is a good thing.

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