Use third party tools

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In Serverboards we liked to create our own solutions to problems, they are the only solutions that fit perfectly. But time and money don’t allow to do it all, so we have to be pragmatic.

In this blog post I will explore this problem as we had it on our very same web page.

Showcase: Our web page

When we went all in on Serverboards we needed a Web page. Our first instinct was to develop one using the technologies we know and love: Django, HTML, CSS… with a proper CMS to allow easy edit of pages, permission system, blog, comments, forum… Everything and the kitchen sink. But after thinking it a bit, and most important seeing how it would depart us from our goal, Serverboards itself, we started thinking on other solutions. What website/blog platforms are available?

Static web page generator

So I investigated into static web page generators. After all, to save time in development that looks like a complete solution: just code a little bit, generate the HTMLs and publish into a static web server. And performance is unbeatable. Sounds great! Let’s see the options… the most known AFAIK is Jekyll, so lets try it. Its Ruby, but thats ok, we will survive. Normally we would not have to code so much.

After some minutes tinkering and checking Jekyll documentation it seems it has everything we need for the static page: blog, static pages, index, extensibility can write in not only HTML, and has some Moustache-like template programming.

But we need some “non static” features: We want people to join our newsletter, to know if the idea of Serverboards has enough traction. We want people to comment on the blog posts. And we need the damn cookies banner.

Join our newsletter

Mailchimp to the rescue! With mailchimp can take charge of registering new subscribers, and later it has a nice interface to create the newsletters themselves. It allows to customize the join form. Done!

It even allows to set the pages to show after requesting the join and after accepting the join email.

Blog comments

Whats a blog if nobody can comment? A lonely one.

The state of the art pluggable blog comment system is Disqus. Easier to add than Google Analytics, and feature rich.

Analytics

And of course analytics. Just register, and add the JS snippet and done. Instant window on your users behavior.

Cookies

The cookies banner is needed because of analytics, and can be solved with simple Javascript, as Javascript itself can set and check cookies, but even easier with localStorage… Is localStorage cookies?.

Crazy. We need the cookies signal even on out static web page. Tell me about ill thought laws.

This has to be coded, not to import huge external libraries we don’t really use.

NIH

Why I talk about all this? Because in Serverboards we suffered from Not Invented Here syndrome, and used to redo everything ourselves. This leads to many more than the estimated hours to do anything, and many many headaches.

After all, if somebody gives you 95% of what you need, maybe you can adapt to it, and save yourself of a lot of problems.

This change of mentality was what made us rethink Serverboards as a service integration service. How can we compete with Prometheus if they have such a big community and corporate backing? But they don’t do what we need exactly, we need more. We need what Pingdom gives us, and all that integrated with AWS and Digital Ocean. And thats why we need to integrate all this services. We want to use them, but all together, not as disconnected services.

If we have to write some code (as with out cookies plugin), its OK, but as little as possible.

And easy to use. At the end of the day, all we want is to save time.