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Workflow changes at kevinpaulconnor.com

Kevinpaulconnor.com is approaching three years old. I’ve learned a lot about development since I created the site; it’s time for a design and development freshening, with the twin goals of making the site more visually appealing while also making the code more clear and maintainable. Before that makes sense, however, my development process for the site must be improved and modernized. Currently, the development process for the files is to FTP into my hosted server and edit live files. This process has a few serious drawbacks:

-FTP is an insecure protocol-my username and password are sent in the clear across the network, meaning that anyone can gain access to kevinpaulconnor.com if they are sniffing with the right tools in the right places.
-If (when) I make a mistake with my markup or code, that mistake is immediately propagated to the live site, impacting user experience or bringing the site down altogether.
-Changes to my files are lost forever-if I decide that a previous revision of a file was better than one I’m currently using, too bad for me.

I’ve inserted the kevinpaulconnor.com files into a git repository, downloaded and installed XAMPP to my local machine, and created a staging.kevinpaulconnor.com subdomain. The new workflow will be:

-Design and develop locally against XAMPP on localhost. Commit changes into my local git repository. This repository is synched with staging.kevinpaulconnor.com, which is protected from non-me pageviews by http authentication. Push changes to the staging domain, and inspect for errors. If all looks well, push changes to the live kevinpaulconnor.com domain.

This workflow solves my three issues above:

-Git pushes will now handle all my networking traffic between local, staging, and live environments, securely.
-By designing and developing locally and then testing on the staging site, I can catch coding errors before they propogate to the main site.
-Git will keep permanent copies of all my site revision changes-if I decide to revert to a previous edition of a file, git makes this easy.

Today and last weekend I’ve been working on implementing these changes: kpc.com is currently in a local repository, staging.kevinpaulconnor.com is up, protected, and set up to accept one line git pushes from the local repository, and I’ve installed XAMPP and the developer tools. For the moment, the live kpc.com site hasn’t been touched. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be thinking about how to accomodate this blog in the new workflow (particularly the database), setting up XAMPP to enable purely local design and development, and integrating the live site into the git workflow. Exciting!

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