Re-jigging and future proofing

/ servers, website, cms
Building site
Always under construction

As I'm changing things in most places when it comes to my online life and my online services etc I ran into problems with updating a couple of things. This was not related to me changing behaviours/apps, but in general, to updating software/services I was already using.

One of them was Plex for example, which basically took away a whole Friday evening with a press on a "Update" button just before I was going to put on a movie for the kids.

Basically I tried to run an update and things broke because of that update. That also happened to this very site for example, which was using an old (and thus un-supported) theme, that didn't stand the test of time any longer. One press on a "Update all" button = site no longer working. Luckily my back-up/restore strategy was working.

My options were to either not update and continue as it was, or to find another theme that was up to date with todays ways of doing things. For those who know me I'm rarely sentimental about things, and I'm also quite security concious, which meant the option to not update/upgrade wasn't really an option. I need to be able to update things at all times, if nothing else to ensure I am closing the latest bugs/holes when it comes to security related matters.

It is rather time consuming though to change an entire web site without taking it down first. It is a job that is still on-going as I'm not finished just yet. If you see something on this site that seems out of order, or something that looks strange, that is probably a correct observation. I figured it is alright. It isn't like I make money off this site or have millions of users, and those that come here anyways do so to read whatever article I have just written, and that part will obviously always be the focus of this site.

In fact I took the opportunity to go through what I really wanted to get out from the site myself, and it came down to this list:

  • Not break old and previously shared URL's to existing articles
  • The article should be in focus
  • It should be easy to read the articles (which means looking at text size, line-heights etc)
  • The site obviously has to work on mobile devices (the old one looked slightly...wonky...on mobiles)
  • Not too many sidebar distractions, especially if they are not relevant to me or authored by me. I still might plonk some social feed in there, like latest tweets or latest Instagram photos or something, but for now I'm quite pleased with the nothingness of things.
  • Still no commenting on posts. If you would like to comment the contents of a post or get in touch in general I recommend you use Mastodon, Signal, Telegram, Line or Twitter. Facebook if you absolutely must, but as might have been apparent by my posts of late, I'm rarely on Facebook any longer.
  • I don't have any social sharing buttons on the site currently, and I'm thinking I should just keep it like that.

On top of that I had the usual (as of previous) list to consider:

  • Have pages that load relatively fast.
  • Use a static web site if possible, i.e not use a database.
  • Be able to update the site easily when it comes to articles. If it is tedious to add content it will not be done.
  • Be able to update the functionality of the site as easily as possible, without having to develop too much of it myself.

I think I'm getting quite close to those targets by now. The site is still running on Grav CMS. It now has a framework called Gantry, with a theme named Helium. All the files are stored on Dropbox, which is using a separate Dropbox account than my regular one, for the web server only, and which in turn shares the relevant files to my main Dropbox account. That way my own Dropbox would still be safe even if the server is compromised/hacked.

It also means that I can update things, or write new articles, wherever I have access to Dropbox or Internet, and can use a text editor. On top of that Grav has a really nice admin interface, which I'm using to write this very article in though I've, on all previous articles on this site, have been using CleanWriterPro (which sadly doesn't seem to be available any longer) on my local machine to create new articles.

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