Almost every public website rely on Google Analytics for statistics. CloudFlare offers an app to manage the tracking system without edit your own code. It is a very useful feature but has some limitation.

Recently I worked on a network of blog (WordPress-based) available under different (and strange, I know) urls:

  1. http://example.com
  2. http://en.example.com
  3. http://example.com/path/to/blog

Each urls is a different WordPress installation with different content management teams from somewhere in the world which share the root domain. An hour after I had activated CloudFlare the content management teams of blog 2 and 3 reported me a fall of the visits. Websites were online and after 30 minutes of search (and a little headache) we found the problem: The UA code of Google Analytics were all pointed to the one of blog 1.

The CloudFlare app is very useful but doesn’t let you manage custom path and subdomains. It overwrite each occurrence of Analytics code with its own! Use it with caution đŸ˜‰

After a couple of months spent using and editing this blog’s engine I can say that Heroku’s cloud is not heaven.
Wordpress works like a glance but there are many problems and some of these aren’t easy to solve.

First of all: Heroku is SLOW! I know, I use the free plan but response time is too high. Also the 10$ hosting I used for many years is faster. I think it’s a problem related to Heroku stack. It works well when you use a lot of workers and you have a lot of traffic but when you have less traffic is awfully slow.

Anyway solve this problem is easy: you can use a CDN. Contents are cached and delivered through multiple servers located all over the world. It’s easy and transparent because it works at DNS level. I choose CloudFlare because has a free plan (and we widely use it at @thefool_it). In front of my blog is able to speed-up response time from about five second to less than one.

Another problem comes when you use plugins that try to “activate” itself like Jetpack or Google Analytics plugin. Heroku filters many server-to-server connections and activation through OAuth-like handshake fails. Some plugins offer a “manual” activation wizard, for everything else there’s not solution: you can edit and maintain the plugin’s code or drop it and use another one. Not fun.

Clouds are not heaven (yet).

I’m a developer and I want to start a blog. There are many different engine I can chose: Jekill, Tumblr, Posterous and counting. I choose WordPress because it’s more user friendly IMHO. The problem is: self-hosted or managed?

As usual every choice has pros and cons.

If you choose a self-hosted solution you have to pay for it. Most of times developers can access to a friend’s VPS and deploy there but this require you to setup the environment (nginx, php-fpm, MySQL and so on) and keep everything up to date to avoid intrusions.

If you chose the managed solution you have to pay. WordPress.com offers a free plan but includes advertising and use of plugins is forbidden. The premium plan is better but is 99$ a year.

I tried both solutions. I deployed a version of WordPress on a VPS (thanks @dani_viga). Then you had to install nginx, install php-fpm, configure virtual host, fight against configuration problems, fight against permissions problems, fight against incompatible plugins and finally your new self-hosted WordPress blog is online (and you have a big headache). I’m a developer, not a Sysadmin. I don’t like to refine configuration, keep everything up to date. I just want something easier.

So I tried WordPress.com because I couldn’t find another provider with a free plan. Beautiful site, great wizard for setup blog, everything is up and running in five minutes. I start to write my first post but i didn’t like the syntax highlighter. There is no way to change it. I want to include a custom social streamer. There is no way to do it. I want to customize my template. There is no way to do it… I closed my account. I’m a developer: i don’t like stuff I can’t edit.

One minute before giving up I decided to try one last solution: Heroku. The Cedar stack supports PHP. I searched for a WordPress version ready to deploy on Heroku and I found this. It uses PostgreSQL and, after five minutes of setup, works like a glance. The only problem is the file upload but I solved using the WPRO Plugin (WordPress Read-Only) to upload file directly to Amazon S3.

Now my blog runs in the clouds đŸ™‚