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Faster builds, please

development updates

~2 mins read   2021-11-25

It’s been only a couple of days since I’ve started again and more things have changed over here. I’ve quickly discovered, after half a dozen deploys, about some of the inconveniences of Cloudflare Pages that people didn’t seem to care enough to talk about. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

  1. The worker startup is painfully slow. Every time a new change hits GitHub, a new build is triggered on Pages and so a new worker must be started to actually build and release the website into the internet. And for some unknown reason, the startup process alone was taking half of the average needed time – 5 to 6 minutes to run the entire pipeline and half of it was just to spin-up the VM (or container, I don’t know). And this behaviour happened consistently.

  2. The installation of dependencies are mandatory. If pages detects a manifest file – Pipfile, package.json, Gemfile etc – it will install of it’s dependencies. You simply cannot skip this. This might not sound that bad, but…

  3. Cloudflare Pages don’t cache your build. No, I’m not talking about Cloudflare’s CDN. I’m talking about all the node modules and other stuff generated at build time. Again, this might not sound that bad, but jekyll for instance relies on Ruby gems that binds to C code, which of course are system / arch-dependent and must be compiled every time. Having the option to specify a list of directories that must be cached between executions would greatly improve the build speed.


Yes, a 5 minutes pipeline is not a lot, but it felt wasteful, so I did some changes…

  1. The build is now being made on Github Actions and the modules / packages / libs are now cacheable. The first run took 5 minutes just to install and compile all the dependencies; the subsequent ones, only 4 seconds. An entire build pipeline takes no more than a minute now.

  2. The builded files – HTML pages and stylesheets – have their own place now: a separate git repository.

  3. This site is not on Cloudflare Pages anymore.

The pipeline is a little more complex, but more faster (on average, 2 minutes from git push to a new site version be live on the internet). A git commit triggers the GitHub Action that builds the site and commits to the other repository, which in turn triggers Render – I’ve talked about this guy last post. Render can do it’s job in a little more than a minute – here’s what a build outlook looks like:

Nov 25 12:19:40 AM  ==> Cloning from
Nov 25 12:19:41 AM  ==> Checking out commit 081d48b in branch master
Nov 25 12:19:54 AM  ==> Downloading cache...
Nov 25 12:19:57 AM  ==> Downloaded 5.0MB in 1s. Extraction took 1s.
Nov 25 12:20:06 AM  ==> Using Python version: 3.7.10
Nov 25 12:20:10 AM  ==> Empty build command; skipping build
Nov 25 12:20:25 AM  ==> Uploading build...
Nov 25 12:20:52 AM  ==> Your site is live 🎉

Where will you be next month?

I don’t plan to leave Render this soon, but I’ll not make any promises. If I could strip down one more build minute by going somewhere else, I would. For now I’m overall happy with this new format / build process.