Cloud Confusing

Explaining hosting, AWS, Wordpress, static sites, and all manner of cloud solutions.

So you have an Amazon S3 hosted site with CloudFront caching in front of it? Nice work — it’s an affordable and highly scalable solution. One downside with this is that the cache, which helps makes your site so fast and cheap to run, is designed to hold on to files, possibly serving an old version to visitors.

That’s normally not a problem (it’s literally the point of a cache), but if you are making a lot of changes to the site and you want visitors to see them as soon as possible, then you will need to invalidate the cache and tell CloudFront to serve the most recent files.

Here is how you can do that…

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August 6th, 2018

Posted In: AWS

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Have you heard the term “WordPress Gutenberg” thrown around lately and had little to no idea what it means? Don’t worry about it, there’s a fix for that.

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August 3rd, 2018

Posted In: Web Development

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If you have been exploring the world of content management and/or static websites then you have almost certainly heard of Hugo. If not, or if you could use a refresher, Hugo is a static site generator built in Go that can easily and efficiently be used to build out multi-page websites. It’s similar to Jekyll (Ruby), Next (React), and any number of other tools. I’ve found Hugo to be particularly fun to learn and easy to use.

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July 24th, 2018

Posted In: Web Development

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There was a great question over at Hacker News recently that caught my attention: What’s your favorite way of getting a web app up quickly in 2018? Or, in other words, what is your preferred stack for quickly spinning up a side project? Having given the subject a lot of thought in the past I found the responses (over 500) to be of great interest.

The thread is worth a read, but it’ll take some time to get through. In an effort to (collectively) save time I wanted to summary the takeaways. This is not an exhaustive list, just my takeaways based on a thorough read of the comments. And, yes, this is a obvious over-simplication and the below categories are somewhat arbitrary but I still think there is value in summarizing the entire (quite messy) set of responses.

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June 4th, 2018

Posted In: Web Development

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While I’m partial to hosting static sites on AWS with S3, there other ways to solve the problem of cheap/free static hosting. One popular option that works for simple one-page sites, single-page applications, Jekyll blogs, and more is GitHub Pages. All you need to get started is a free (or paid) GitHub account, a basic understanding of how git or GitHub works, and about 10 minutes.

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May 15th, 2018

Posted In: GitHub

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So you have an awesome, affordable new VPS instance — maybe even a WordPress or Drupal installation — hosted on Amazon’s Lightsail. Setting up a Lightsail instance might be quick and easy, but moving it from HTTP to HTTPS isn’t as intuitive as you might expect. This is one of those instances where AWS stops holding your hand and expects you do to some real work of your own. But don’t worry, setting up HTTPS isn’t too tough and, thanks to Let’s Encrypt, it’s free.

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May 13th, 2018

Posted In: AWS

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Amazon’s S3 is a great tool for hosting static sites for nearly free (and often times free). Setting up a website in S3 takes just a few minutes, and once it’s there it’s secure, scalable, and affordable. That said, it’s not the tool for everyone — like AWS, S3 has many quirks and it has a real learning curve. Also AWS support is far from free and if you want to do anything non-standard, like URL redirects, there can be many headaches. So here are some of the best alternatives to S3 static site hosting for every user, need, and budget.

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May 2nd, 2018

Posted In: AWS

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If you are looking for an explainer on S3 redirection rules, you are going to have a tough time finding a good one. Available on redirection rules is available from all over the place, no one source (including Amazon) is even close to complete, and then outcomes don’t always match exceptions. Welcome to cloud confusion.

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April 29th, 2018

Posted In: AWS

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HTTPS on AWS

If you have followed CloudConfusing’s previous guides on hosting a website on S3 and then adding HTTPS to that site, forcing HTTPS is surprisingly easy. The whole process will take about two minutes per site and involves no risk factors, assuming your HTTPS setup is already functioning properly.

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April 28th, 2018

Posted In: AWS

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Are you trying to upload a database to your site, but it’s getting rejected by phpmyadmin? That’s a common issue, but unfortunately it can happen under a number of circumstances and there are many places where the file size restriction can live, making the issue difficult (or at least tedious) to troubleshoot.

Recently this happened to me when trying to install a 200MB database onto a local installation of WordPress, using MAMP for the heavy lifting. My localhost setup would have no issues with a database of this size but phpmyadmin rejected it every time. I wanted to get my local environment set to match the production version, so this was a necessary step.

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February 5th, 2018

Posted In: Localhost / Environment

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