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A better wp-cron. Horizontally scalable, works perfectly with multisite.
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A Human Made project. Maintained by @rmccue.


Cavalcade is a scalable job system, designed as a drop-in replacement for WordPress's built-in pseudo-cron system.

Flowchart of how Cavalcade works

From the WordPress side, none of your code needs to change. Cavalcade transparently integrates with the existing wp-cron functions to act as a full replacement. Cavalcade pushes these jobs off into their own database table for efficient storage.

At the core of Cavalcade is the job runner. The runner is a daemon that supervises the entire system. The runner constantly checks the database for new jobs, and is responsible for spawning and managing workers to handle the jobs when they're ready.

The runner spawns workers, which perform the actual tasks themselves. This is done by running a special WP-CLI command.


Guaranteed Running

wp-cron is not actually a real task scheduler, and doesn't actually operate like cron. Instead, it's a pseudo-cron system, which is run as a loopback HTTP call when you access a page on the site (essentially, the page "forks" itself to run scheduled tasks).

This is fine for high traffic single-sites, but lower traffic sites might not have their cron activated if the site isn't viewed. There are workarounds for this, but they typically don't allow second-level granulaity or don't work with multisite.

Designed for Multisite

wp-cron was originally designed for single sites, and has had multisite grafted on to it. For large multisite installations, this simply doesn't scale. One of the tricks to ensure wp-cron runs is to ping a page on the site in a real cron task, but this needs to be done once-per-site.

Cavalcade however contains full support from the ground up for multisite. Firstly, rather than storing tasks per-site, they're stored all together with the site ID as part of the data. This ensures that all sites are treated the same, regardless of traffic.

Secondly, workers are localised to sites when they're started (via WP-CLI's --url argument), allowing per-site plugins and themes to be loaded properly. Since it starts with this data, it also runs through the normal sunrise process, removing the need for complicated switches and conditionals in your code.

Horizontally Scalable

One of the best ways of handling high traffic sites is to horizontally scale your WordPress install. This involves having multiple application servers running WordPress, and a load-balancer to spread out the requests. However, traditional wp-cron cannot handle this due to the above limitations.

Cavalcade is designed to be inherently parallel. When you horizontally scale your servers, simply have one runner per server. This means that as you scale your site and server stack, Cavalcade will scale with you.

Parallel Processing

Typically, wp-cron runs every scheduled event in a loop giving you sequential processing of your tasks. If you have a long-running task, this will block processing of other events, as wp-cron uses a global lock.

Cavalcade instead uses one-lock-per-task, allowing parallel processing of tasks instead. By default, Cavalcade uses four worker processes to run your tasks, however, this is configurable. This means that if you have a long-running task, it will continue to execute in the background while the runner continues to process the rest of the remaining tasks.

Status Monitoring

Unlike wp-cron, which simply runs an action and forgets about it, Cavalcade monitors the status of your tasks. If you have a fatal error, Cavalcade will log the failure in the database, and automatically pause that event from running in the future. If you want to restart it, the schedule will be resumed, and will continue running on schedule. (For example, if you have an event run on Mondays and it fails, restarting it will continue to run it on Mondays.)


Cavalcade requires a little bit of setup, and is not recommended for the faint of heart. Keep in mind that it is an incredibly powerful system designed for high traffic, large installs. Don't install it on every site just for fun.

WordPress Plugin

Clone or submodule this repository into your mu-plugins directory, and load it as an MU plugin. For example, create mu-plugins/cavalcade.php with the following code:

require_once __DIR__ . '/cavalcade/plugin.php';

To start using it in your code, don't change anything. Simply use the normal wp-cron functions, such as wp_schedule_event, wp_schedule_single_event and wp_next_scheduled. Cavalcade integrates seamlessly into these, and the first events you see appear in your jobs table will likely be WP's normal core events such as update checks.

Disable the built in WordPress cron in wp-config.php:

define( 'DISABLE_WP_CRON', true );

WP-CLI commands

There are three commands for WP-CLI bundled in Cavalcade. You can type wp cavalcade to see the commands at any time.

usage: wp cavalcade jobs [--format=<format>] [--id=<job-id>] [--site=<site-id>] [--hook=<hook>] [--status=<status>]
   or: wp cavalcade log [--format=<format>] [--fields=<fields>] [--job=<job-id>] [--hook=<hook>]
   or: wp cavalcade run <id>
  1. wp cavalcade jobs will list all of the jobs. This command is useful for showing jobs that are queued. e.g. wp cavalcade jobs --status=waiting
  2. wp cavalcade log shows logs of completed jobs.
  3. wp cavalcade run will run a job.


This is the more complex part. Grab the Cavalcade runner from and run it. The first parameter passed to Cavalcade should be the relative path to your WordPress install (i.e. to the directory where your wp-config.php is). By default, this will use the current working directory; useful if you make cavalcade available in your path.

The runner will remain in the foreground by itself; use your normal system daemonisation tools, or nohup with & to run it in the background. We recommend:

nohup bin/cavalcade > /var/log/cavalcade.log &

(Cavalcade outputs all relevant logging information to stdout, and only sends meta-information such as shutdown notices to stderr.)

Note: The runner has three additional requirements:

  • pcntl - The Process Control PHP extension must be installed. Cavalcade Runner uses this to spawn worker processes and keep monitor them.
  • pdo - The PHP Data Objects (PDO) must be installed. Cavalcade Runner uses this to access WordPress database.
  • wp-cli - wp-cli must be installed on your server and available in the PATH. Cavalcade Runner internally calls wp cavalcade run <id> to run the jobs.

The runner is an independent piece of Cavalcade, so writing your own runner is possible if you have alternative requirements.


Cavalcade is licensed under the GPLv2 or later.


Created by Human Made for high volume and large-scale sites, such as Happytables. We run Cavalcade on sites with millions of monthly page views, and thousands of sites, including The Tab, and the United Influencers network.

Maintained by Ryan McCue.

Interested in joining in on the fun? Join us, and become human!