WordPress background processing class
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WP Background Processing

WP Background Processing can be used to fire off non-blocking asynchronous requests or as a background processing tool, allowing you to queue tasks. Check out the example plugin or read the accompanying article.

Inspired by TechCrunch WP Asynchronous Tasks.

Requires PHP 5.2+

Async Request

Async requests are useful for pushing slow one-off tasks such as sending emails to a background process. Once the request has been dispatched it will process in the background instantly.

Extend the WP_Async_Request class:

class WP_Example_Request extends WP_Async_Request {

	 * @var string
	protected $action = 'example_request';

	 * Handle
	 * Override this method to perform any actions required
	 * during the async request.
	protected function handle() {
		// Actions to perform

protected $action

Should be set to a unique name.

protected function handle()

Should contain any logic to perform during the non-blocking request. The data passed to the request will be accessible via $_POST.

Dispatching Requests

Instantiate your request:

$this->example_request = new WP_Example_Request();

Add data to the request if required:

$this->example_request->data( array( 'value1' => $value1, 'value2' => $value2 ) );

Fire off the request:


Chaining is also supported:

$this->example_request->data( array( 'data' => $data ) )->dispatch();

Background Process

Background processes work in a similar fashion to async requests but they allow you to queue tasks. Items pushed onto the queue will be processed in the background once the queue has been dispatched. Queues will also scale based on available server resources, so higher end servers will process more items per batch. Once a batch has completed the next batch will start instantly.

Health checks run by default every 5 minutes to ensure the queue is running when queued items exist. If the queue has failed it will be restarted.

Queues work on a first in first out basis, which allows additional items to be pushed to the queue even if it’s already processing.

Extend the WP_Background_Process class:

class WP_Example_Process extends WP_Background_Process {

	 * @var string
	protected $action = 'example_process';

	 * Task
	 * Override this method to perform any actions required on each
	 * queue item. Return the modified item for further processing
	 * in the next pass through. Or, return false to remove the
	 * item from the queue.
	 * @param mixed $item Queue item to iterate over
	 * @return mixed
	protected function task( $item ) {
		// Actions to perform

		return false;

	 * Complete
	 * Override if applicable, but ensure that the below actions are
	 * performed, or, call parent::complete().
	protected function complete() {

		// Show notice to user or perform some other arbitrary task...

protected $action

Should be set to a unique name.

protected function task( $item )

Should contain any logic to perform on the queued item. Return false to remove the item from the queue or return $item to push it back onto the queue for further processing. If the item has been modified and is pushed back onto the queue the current state will be saved before the batch is exited.

protected function complete()

Optionally contain any logic to perform once the queue has completed.

Dispatching Processes

Instantiate your process:

$this->example_process = new WP_Example_Process();

Push items to the queue:

foreach ( $items as $item ) {
    $this->example_process->push_to_queue( $item );

Save and dispatch the queue:



If your site is behind BasicAuth, both async requests and background processes will fail to complete. This is because WP Background Processing relies on the WordPress HTTP API, which requires you to attach your BasicAuth credentials to requests. The easiest way to do this is using the following filter:

function wpbp_http_request_args( $r, $url ) {
	$r['headers']['Authorization'] = 'Basic ' . base64_encode( USERNAME . ':' . PASSWORD );

	return $r;
add_filter( 'http_request_args', 'wpbp_http_request_args', 10, 2);