Sunday 19 July 2020

A sneaky peeky at the current development project

Years ago I wrote a simple development environment to help me hand code small websites. (Please don't judge my code.)

Development environment is overblowing it. But it did one very important trick.

But first, why would anyone want to hand-code a website? (Does anyone else hand-code any more?)

  • Having a server-side website CMS hacked is frustrating
  • Having plain html files on the server makes your site faster
  • If you're a control-freak like me, you want to write your own clean code, rather than allowing a system to generate unnecessary unreadable guff.

The first thing you notice when you hand-code a site, even a small one, is that if you make a change to code that appears on all pages, it's a huge PITA to go through all pages making the same change.

Hence that trick I mentioned. Those blue links in the screenshot are where an 'object' is inserted. An object is stored once, you edit it once and when you 'compile' the site, those placeholders on all pages are expanded. In the same operation, the app uploads the compiled pages to the server by ftp or sftp. Obviously, clicking that blue link in the editor loads the object for editing. The editor has forward and back navigation buttons.

That's a very brief overview. I've been using this myself for years. But as with tools you write for yourself, it's not very well-refined.

I've been thinking that I may not be alone in my wish to manage small sites this way. I guess most people who don't want a server-side CSM will be using a visual website creator on their computer.

I've decided to improve this to the point where it's a credible commercial (initially free) app and see what interest there is.

It's not ready yet. The whole object / compiling / uploading trick works, I've been using that for a long time.  I now have basic syntax colouring working and before any kind of release, I plan to build in these features:

  • A button to trigger 'Tidy', a unix html tidying utility (can also do some validation)
  • Preview of selected page, updated as you type
  • Compress (remove whitespace) before uploading
If you would like to read more, an early draft of the user guide is here.

[Update 8 Aug] A very early version of the application (which I'm not even calling Beta) is now available for download.

Is this of interest to you? Are there other features you'd like in such an app? Let me know.

Wednesday 8 July 2020

The browser padlock and why it might not appear

It's important to have an SSL certificate these days if your site is to have any credibility.

Even if you do have a valid certificate in place, you may still find that a browser refuses to display the padlock. Different browsers have their own criteria and display the information in different ways, but we've generally moved from 'a padlock when the site is secure' to a clear 'site insecure' warning.

The image above illustrates this. The site does have a valid certificate in place.  My two favourite browsers do both have developer tools which allow you to drill down and find the reason(s) for the warnings.

That's good for a single page that you know has a problem. But if you're a Scrutiny user, you want to be notified of any such problems on any page of your site.

Scrutiny has long had features to help you with migration to https://. It alerts you to old links to your http:// pages and pages which have mixed content. (images or linked files which are http://)

As mentioned above, browsers vary in their criteria for displaying the padlock. As from v9.8.0, Scrutiny makes additional checks / warnings:

The insecure content alert/report will now include:

  • insecure urls found in certain meta tags, such as open graph or Twitter cards.
  • insecure images, whether hosted internally or externally
  • insecure form action urls, even if the 'check form action' is switched off.