Blog

Categorised by 'Surinder's Log'.

  • As I have been writing the last few blog posts, I've been getting the case of "twitchy feet" during the writing process. I normally get "twitchy feet" when frustrated or annoyed by things in my life that I feel could be done easier. In this case, my site has started to frustrate me and felt that adding new posts became a chore.

    Over the 10 years (has it really been this long!?) owning and maintaining this site, it's started to become a bit of the beast from the initial outset. I've jumped from platform to platform based on my needs at the time:

    • Wordpress (2006)
    • BlogEngine (2007 to 2012)
    • Kentico (2012 to present)

    I feel at the grand old age of 31, I need a platform that nurtures my writing creativity without having to worry about general maintainance and somewhat restrictive editorial functionality. Ever since I tasted the pure nectar that is Markdown, my writing speed has gone through the roof and love having full control through the simplistic editing interface - Markdown is the furture!

    I am a certified Kentico Developer (you may have got that impression from my vast posts on the platform) and specifically chose Kentico CMS because it gave me the full flexibility to build the site how I wanted. As great as the platform is, I've come to the conclusion that this site will never grow to be anything more than one thing: a blog. So I want to down-size like a person getting on in his years and move to a smaller house.

    Enter Ghost...

    Ghost

    The Ghost platform has garnered a lot of traction over the years ever since its concept in 2012. I've been keeping an eye on it over the years and never really gave the platform much thought until I noticed quite a few popular bloggers making the move and experiencing the lightening fast performance. This is possibly down to the blogger hosting their instance on Ghost Pro. Could be wrong. I am planning on going down the Ghost Pro hosting route and get everything setup by the very nice people behind the scenes at Ghost HQ, who will lovingly host and look after my site.

    I opened up a dialog on Twitter to Ghost who were very kind in alleviating my initial migration worries:

    @sbhomra We can upload images for you, if you send the upload directory in the format Ghost uses, i.e. /content/images/yyyy/mm/image-name
    — Ghost (@TryGhost) October 7, 2016

    @sbhomra We can help with the redirects if you're coming over to Ghost(Pro). :)
    — Ghost (@TryGhost) October 6, 2016

    The only thing I will have to get over, which Ghost will not be able to help me with is getting over the mindset that I will not be able to to tinker around with my site to the full extent as I do now. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing and will give me the opportunity to concentrate more on writing quality content. I just hate the thought of restricting myself.

    Ghost has put a framework in place that no other platform has done so well - giving power to write content anywhere:

    • Desktop browser
    • Mobile browser
    • Desktop application

    Looks like Ghost lives up to its main selling point:

    An open source blogging platform which makes writing pleasurable and publishing simple.

    What I also love is the SEO optimisation out-of-the-box. God knows how many hours I've spent trying to get my site SEO friendly, not only from an search indexing standpoint, but a social sharing standpoint too with all the open graph tags built-in. No need for extra plugins or development from a code perspective.

    Whats Next?

    As it currently stands, I am evaluating Ghost through their 14 day trial and need to send an email to their support team before I make a confirmed decision to move. I like what I am seeing to far. Just need to get the time to put a migration process in place to move the 200 posts on this site. Eek!

    Ghost is definitely not as scary as I once thought. Cue Ray Parker Jr...

  • Early last month, I decided to make the move and finally run my site under a secure certificate. This something I’ve been meaning to do over the last year as it became apparent that Google will soon penalise your search rankings if an SSL is not installed. Quite a few of the developer blogs I follow have already made the transition, so I thought I too should do the same. I was surprised how cheap it was to move to HTTPS. For myself, I pay around £25 a year that consists of a basic Comodo SSL certificate and a dedicated IP. This is purely because my website is hosted on a shared hosting provider. It’ll probably be even more cheaper for those who manage their own hosting.

    I highly recommend anyone who still has qualms on making the move to https to read the following post by Scott Helme: Still think you don't need HTTPS?. He brings up some very interesting points and benefits that motivated me to make the move.

    The transition to making the move to HTTPS was painless and required no major downtime. But I did have to spend time in ensuring all external requests from my site were secure, for example Disqus, Google Ads and some external JS references. However, something a little more pressing caught my eye and got quite a fright when I logged into Google Webmaster Tools yesterday. Unbeknown to me, ever since my site changed to HTTPS, both my clicks and CTR statistics declined drastically over the month. Take a look at the blue and yellow lines:

    Google Webmaster Tools Clicks/CTR Decline

    At least this decline has not been reflected in my Google Analytics report. The number of visitors to my site has remained stable and have even noticed a slight increase - I don’t think the increase has anything to do with the SSL certificate. So what caused the rapid decline in Webmaster Tools? It seems like I missed something in my haste. I needed to in fact create a new website inside Webmaster Tools that contained my website URL prefixed with "https://". This is because a "http://www.surinderbhomra.com" is considered a different URL to "https://www.surinderbhomra.com". Makes sense when I think about it. I wrongly presumed that as long as I have the correct 301 redirects in place so all pages on my site is served over HTTPS, there won't be an issue.

    HTTP and HTTPS Sites In Google Webmaster Tools

    John Mueller wrote a FAQ post on Google+ that covers most of the important things you need to know and how to setup Webmaster Tools correctly on change to HTTPS: https://plus.google.com/+JohnMueller/posts/PY1xCWbeDVC.

    I won't lie to you, seeing that green padlock in the web address bar whenever I visit my site gives me a new found sense of euphoria!

  • Welcome to my new and improved website built in Kentico 8 and MVC Razor 5.

    My old site was crying for an upgrade and now seemed like a good opportunity to make quite a few modifications, such as:

    • Upgrading to Kentico 8
    • Ditch ASP.NET Web Forms for MVC Razor 5
    • Refresh the front-end (designed by yours truly!) ;-)
    • Responsive support using Bootstrap
    • Refactored all code to improve website performance and caching

    The new build has been a bit of a pet project and allowed me to put into practice everything I've learnt from over the years since my last build.

    Still work in progress and more refinements are in the pipeline.

  • Kentico LogoFor many years, I've been a happy BlogEngine user. However, recently my website was starting to expand in a way that wasn't flexible enough for the BlogEngine platform. Don't get me wrong, BlogEngine is a great blogging platform and it is without a doubt one of the best out on the market. But the capabilities and features Kentico provides made moving over to another platform an easy decision.

    The future of my site needed something that would give me free reign and control on making full customisations myself in a solid framework, and Kentico seemed to fit this requirement.

    Having worked with the Kentico platform for quite a few years now, I was impressed by how easy or complex I could make a site. Most importantly, the page perfomance of my site has got quite a boost. For a site that doesn't look like is doing much at face value, it is behind the scenes.

    What was the migration process like?

    Migrating all my BlogEngine content into Kentico did take some time, but the Kentico Import tool really does take the hassle out of getting key blog post information into the CMS. Just don't be expect tags and categories to be imported in the process. Migrating these facets is a manual job.

    In addition, I decided to overhaul the friendly URL's used for my blog posts in keeping with the URL structure provided by BlogEngine. Even to this day, I'm not sold on the way Kentico generates it's friendly URL's for blog posts. For example:

    /Blog/February-2013/My-Blog-Post.aspx
    

    When it should be the following format:

    /Blog/2013/02/03/My-Blog-Post.aspx
    

    Luckily, it was pretty easy to write a Custom Eventhandler to add additional custom URL paths whenever I update or insert a new post (will add a post in the near future on how to do this).

    I still have some additional features to add to this site (and dare I say fixes!) so watch this space...