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Web Design Web Development

Code-First or Database-First?

So what is Database First?

Put simply

Categories
Web Development

Another Little Case Study

We’ve talked elsewhere about Jagged Globe, so here’s another little case study. It’s all about their custom website and their many, many beautiful images.

Over the last year or two we’ve been adding the popular rich-text editor, CKeditor, to many of their administrators’ pages.

This editor allows a website administrator to edit web content as if they were in Microsoft Word© with multiple formatting options.

Using UTF8, it removes many of the problems of an extended character set and ensures all html added is correct, tags balanced and so on.

But What About the Pictures?

Asked the client.

Although CKeditor has tools for browsing a server file system (CKFinder, ELFinder and others), none of these are quite appropriate for Jagged Globe. Their image database predates Javascript text editors and the thousands (tens of thousands) would soon break anything manually scanning the disk.

Hang on …

… we thought, we can’t be the first people to have this problem so we did some research.

We found a little-used plugin which just required some back end code to supply a list of images so they can be added to the web page as the administrator creates it.

Little Fire Digital integrated Jagged Gobe Images with CKeditor
The database-driven image browser for Jagged Globe

… bit of back end wizardry and an hour or two later we were testing.

Everything worked as needed and within a few hours the entire development was launched.

The system is super easy to use, when staff at Jagged Globe select ‘Browse Server’, a new browser window opens with all the categories defined for the images available at the top.

Once the category is chosen, thumbnails of all the images uploaded are displayed (most recent first). Double clicking on any inserts the image into the document. Correctly formatted. No code, no errors.

Little Fire Digital Ltd – fixing the internet, one job at a time.

Read our Jagged Globe case study

Categories
Web Design Web Development

What is the Best CMS?

There is no shortage of content management systems available for website design and development. There is also no shortage of bigotry when it comes to which CMS is best to use. There still remain puritans who swear by coding the website and building it all from the floorboards upwards. It will be truly unique and do whatever you need it to but in 2022 you can probably already get most of the work already done from a themed template website which is already mobile responsive and there are options for eCommerce and brochure site alike.

WordPress

WordPress. Let’s start right here. There are some designers who swear by WordPress and they are so brand loyal that if you were to break them open somehow, they would say “WordPress” all the way through them like sticks of seaside rock. They love WordPress. On toast. For them, it is better than bacon. For some people that means it’s not that good. (Like Simon who hasn’t eaten meat for 35 years) and for others it means it is almost impossible to ever be that brilliant. (Like Spence, who hasn’t eaten bacon for 35 minutes, and misses it already.) It’s all about personal choices and its totally fluid and subjective.

What People Love About WordPress

  • Interface – When first installed, it’s a user friendly CMS
  • Appearance – the display framework for your website pages is mature and stable and easy to customise and there are literally thousands of themes out there to take a lot out of the heavy lifting out of web design
  • It’s Free – it really is, installing WordPress on your own server is free. WordPress will also host your website for free
  • Plugins – so you can perform any number of functions
  • Support – 30% of the world’s web developers work in WordPress working on patches, fixes and updates all the time. The online community is huge
  • SEO friendly – the WordPress CMS is all about the user experience which search engines love, it’s also mobile responsive, quick to load and really easy to optimise images. Not to mention they have SEO plugins a plenty.
  • WordPress Hosting – there is hosting available which is tailored specifically for WordPress websites.

What’s not to love?

… well, since you ask …

What People Hate About WordPress

  • Security – With such a large user base to exploit, it’s the Devil’s Playground for Hackers. If you own a WordPress website, you need to be aware that regular security patches need to be applied (for which your provider may charge you).
    • 75% are from WordPress plugins
    • 14% are from core WordPress
    • 11% are from WordPress theme
  • Appearance – seen one WordPress site? You’ve seen them all. Themes are inconsistent and can be generic. It really does take skill and talent to stop a WordPress from looking, well, WordPressy.
  • Interface – As you add functionality, the administrator’s interface can become dispersed and it can become less and less obvious how to do what and where.
  • Creeping costs
    • Freemium upsells. The theme providers, yoast, elementor and just about everyone in the WordPress game are all about the upsells. Yes, you can have a free version that does just about enough to make you wish you had it all available to you.
    • Premium upsells. Your business is running great online and many of those plugin providers will want a slice of the action – expect paid plugins to edge up their prices as your website becomes busier.
  • Bloat. All those lovely themes, plugins and images you installed to get your website just so sweet? They can crash your website, slow your website down and cause a raft of reliability issues.
  • Time Updates, updates and more updates. It’s just not quite enough to plug in an play with WordPress. It’s more a case of plug in, play and then spend a lot of time updating plugins

Not that any of this is insurmountable with good practice and regular maintenance and updates. Updates are good. Learn to embrace the updating. We know it’s boring. In fact, let us worry about that for you. We love that kind of boring. Rich finds it rather therapeutic, in his happy zen place updating WordPress plugins and updating security keys.

    So the thing is that we aspire to not just be a Progressive Web Apps Agency, but we actually strive to be a progressive web design agency.. do you like what I did there? …

    This is to mean that we want to equip you with the best solution to your problem and if we are only looking at custom website design and wordpress website design, then we are kind of fishing in a shallow pool when there are vast oceans of solutions out there .. at least, two .. maybe as many as three more which I am going to mention right here on this very post!

    Squarespace

    Well someone had to say it. Beloved of designers, architect and visual types, Squarespace is a great content management system for delivering a good looking website.

    Squarespace websites are highly polished in their appearance with easy to navigate pages and a nice coherent user experience. They also have over 140 different templates to build from all of which can be customised.

    Squarespace can implement ecommerce.

    What People Love About Squarespace

    • Appearance – with a “fanatical” team of developers, Squarespace template blocks can rapidly-built into great looking websites.
    • Easy to Use – Squarespace really is easy to use. The admin interface is straightforward and consistent.
    • Speed – the platorm is both quick to build and to run.
    • Excellent Customer Service – another thing about which the company claim to be “fanatical”. If you’re in the UK, you will have to wait for New York to wake up before you can experience that service however.

    What People Hate About Squarespace

    • Cost – Squarespace is not free and extending it is not always cheap. Expect creeping costs.
    • Appearance – Like many content managements systems, Squarespace websites can begin to look generic
    • Rigid – Squarespace is hard to extend, if it doesn’t happen to do what you want then there’s almost no way to make it do so.

    There are complaints too (in the name of being balanced and impartial, like the BBC) surrounding Squarespace sites in that they only have one sub navigation which is a limiting factor on building a website with deep menu hierarchy, and it pretty much puts the kybosh on creating a multilingual website.

    … in Conclusion

    So as you can hopefully see by now, we have no dog in any one fight. It’s almost like we know that just as a good pub has handpull beer and also draught via the mast heads on the bar, and then there’s the fridges, the optics, the wine list and even a coffee machine these days .. same thing really but for websites and content management systems. They are all tools of the trade that we work in.

    So going to a digital company who are going to evangelise just one CMS and poopoo the rest … is like having the nightmarishly laughable scenario that you hire a plumber who knows better than everyone else and he’s come to the conclusion (entirely by his own volition) that doesn’t like pipe wrenches.

    He’s not too keen on adjustable spanners either. What he likes to use is a lump hammer. For everything.

    It’s the same with content management systems, we like to ensure we are equipped with as many up to date and well maintained tools for jobs of all shapes and sizes that all come with their own set of problems that will require different applications and solutions and to have the right tools to apply to each accordingly.

    We’d like to hope it makes more sense when you think of it like that.

    Categories
    SEO and Digital Marketing

    What is SEO?

    A quick myth debunked – “Will SEO get my website to the top of Google?”.

    That’s just not the point.

    True story. We once had a client boasting/complaining that he had come from an agency where he had just spent £10,000 to get the term “printed latex balloons” to the top of Google.

    We can still hear the tumbleweed rolling.

    We checked (we have the tools to check) and counted the number of people who had searched for “printed latex balloons” in the previous month.

    It was quite a round number.

    The point is, given enough time and money, you could probably get anything to the top of Google.

    But if you start in the wrong place, you’ll more than likely climb the wrong mountain. And, after all that effort and expense (and frostbite), you’ll probably find no customers up there to greet you.

    So Just What is SEO?

    Put simply, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is using marketing and technical practices to maximise profitable website traffic.

    It is definitely not a quick fix or suitable for a short term solution because SEO is a medium to long term strategy which takes time. The rewards of which are rankings in the natural search results of Google where all the clicks are free so you don’t require having a budget in place to remain visible to the Search Engine Results Page.

    By working on the tags, titles and other parts of a web page which send signals to Google (and other search engines). SEO makes the optimised content more prominent and more rankible by search engines when it is laid out in the right way.

    Unlike the case of the printed latex balloons, it’s also a great idea to have an SEO professional to conduct keyword research which will ascertain whether there is any search volume behind the choice keywords that you have in mind. SEO companies have online tools which allow such analysis and we can report to you on how many times that keyword is searched in a given timeframe and also how difficult it will be to rank for the keywords.

    SEO can also compliment other activities within Digital Marketing such as Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising.

    If a PPC landing page is fully optimised using SEO tactics then this can lead to an enhanced Quality Score which is a factor Google uses when calculating click costs based on the relevance of the page that the ads are to land traffic on. A higher quality score means lower click costs as the Quality Score is doing to heavy lifting so the click cost doesn’t need to to serve the ads in the optimal places on the Search Engine Results Page.

    So when creating a page for your website it’s a great idea to optimise it for search engines so it ranks in the natural search, and if you want to have instant gratification and to land traffic on that page sooner rather than later then the smart move is to land PPC ads onto the page to drive further traffic and garner quicker results.

    Please do get in touch if you want to know more about SEO, PPC or any aspect of Digital Marketing.

    Categories
    Web Development

    What is Technical Debt?

    The stories occasionally hit the news, a bank’s systems go down – the technology as remained unwritten for decades and now it no longer serves.

    Technical debt is the idea that all website development happens from a baseline and, as the code base grows, it becomes less flexible. Whilst not a bad thing in itself, this inflexibility starts to act as a barrier to change and development of the codebase.

    Where Does Technical Debt Come From?

    Before a Project is Launched

    Some technical debt is inevitable. As soon as elements within a project begin to interact and become co-dependent, change becomes harder to implement but there are many factors which can contribute to the speed at which technical debt accrues.

    • A clear brief is essential – it can be exhausting and dull to specify a custom project in detail, insufficient up-front definition and a poorly articulated statement of the purpose of the project can lead to requirements being defined during the course of development, or development starting before any design takes place. This may appear to save time but can result in profound changes being required before the project is even completed.
    • Lack of documentation, where code is created without supporting documentation. This needs to be completed at the code-level (in code commenting) and the project level. The need for to creating documentation later represents debt. As memories fade, the longer the issue is left, the heavier this burden becomes.
    • Business pressures, where the business considers getting something released sooner before the necessary changes are complete, builds up technical debt involving those uncompleted changes. 
    • Lack of process or understanding, where businesses are blind to the concept of technical debt, and make decisions without considering the implications. This is particularly common with inexperienced developers who may not be aware or standard existing means of completing tasks within the build process.
    • Tightly coupled components, where functions are not modular, the software is not flexible enough to adapt to changes in business needs.
    • Lack of a test procedure particularly at the beta- and ‘guy-in-the-corridor’ – it is all but impossible to test one’s own development.
    • Lack of collaboration, where knowledge isn’t shared with junior developers or the team at large.
    • Parallel development on multiple branches accrues technical debt because of the work required to merge the changes into a single source base. The more changes done in isolation, the more debt.
    • Deferred refactoring; As the requirements for a project evolve, it may become clear that parts of the code have become inefficient or difficult to edit and must be refactored in order to support future requirements. The longer refactoring is delayed, and the more code is added, the bigger the debt. 
    • Lack of alignment to standards, where industry standard features, frameworks, and technologies are ignored. Eventually integration with standards will come and doing so sooner will cost less (similar to “delayed refactoring”).
    • Lack of ownership, when outsourced software efforts result in in-house engineering being required to refactor or rewrite outsourced code.
    • Last minute specification changes. These have potential to percolate throughout a project, but there is insufficient time or budget to document and test the changes.

    After a Project is Launched

    When compared with many software solutions, the environment in which a website runs changes exceptionally fast. Exposed to the entire world, a website is subject to:

    • changes in browser standards;
    • trends in device use change – witness the move from desktop browsing to mobile devices;
    • legal requirements change – GDPR, cookie law;
    • supporting technologies change or disappear completely – Google Analytics 3 will be widthdrawn in 2023.

    Merely by existing online, a website accrues technical debt, without continued development and support all websites will eventually age to a point where they can no longer be maintained.

    Even ongoing developments can add to the debt, long series of project enhancements over time renders old solutions sub-optimal. Factors such as maintaining backwards-compatibility can exacerbate bloat and make the refactoring required harder and more risky. Each project becomes harder to complete as the code base becomes unwieldy.

    Strategies for Avoiding Technical Debt

    Technical debt is inevitable but there a some measure which can be taken to keep it manageable.

    Define the Project

    Even if resources to not permit complete, granular specification of a project technical brief, if the purpose of the project is clear, the developer team can make informed judgements to keep the project aligned with the final detination.

    Communication

    Resources rarely exist to foresee every decision that needs to be made in a project. Regular and open communication between developer team and project lead, between project lead and client can help prevent a project drifting off target.

    Software

    Testing

    Maintenance

    Categories
    Web Development

    What is a TLA?

    What is a TLA?

    Confusing, befuddling and intimidating … no one likes jargon, but the internet is full of it.

    And peppered throughout is the Three Letter Acronym (TLA). Please bear with as as we try to demystify a few (and a few of their buddies) …

    A

    We know, we know it’s not a TLA. But the A record is a fundamental part of DNS. The ‘A‘ stands for Address record. For every website address there is an A record which contains an IP Address. When you enter google.com in your web browser, your computer looks up this IP address and sends requests for information (graphics, code etc.) to that address.

    AAAA

    We know, we know it’s still not a TLA. The internet is big and getting bigger. It is fast running out of old style IP addresses and so the boffins have invented the newer IPV6 address format. For DNS purposes, IPV6 addresses are too long to fit in an A record so they invented the AAAA record.

    AAAA does not really stand for anything but is sometimes referred to as Quad A.

    CNAME

    Canonical Name records are part of DNS. They are typically used to differentiate a subdomain (like portal.little-fire.com) from the main web server. This way, web pages and email can use the same domain name (e.g. www.little-fire.com and mail.little-fire.com) but access different servers.

    CRM

    CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. It’s a technology used to manage interactions with customers and potential customers. A CRM system helps organisations build customer relationships and streamline processes so they can increase sales, improve customer service, and increase profitability. Hubspot, Monday.com and Pabau are all CRM systems.

    CSS

    Cascading Style Sheets are what make html pages look like a design. HTML tells the browser what to display (‘put a header here, then add a logo and a menu’). The CSS – separate file loaded with the html – tells you how those things should look (‘make the header dark grey and not very tall, make the logo go at the left and make the menu small and white’).

    DKIM

    DomainKeys Identified Mail is a system that allows an organisation to take responsibility for the emails they send. An email can be passed through many mail servers on its way from your laptop to your Aunt Mabel in Adelaide. If you have DKIM set up and an associated record in your DNS configuration, each of those servers can check that the email really does come from you. In this way, a correctly-set DKIM record can help prevent the emails you send from ending up in Mabel’s junk folder.

    DNS

    This is the Domain Name System … effectively the phone book for the internet. It’s the system which allows computers to match user-friendly domain names (e.g. little-fire.com) to a numerical reference (IP address) and find things on the internet.

    For every working domain there will be a set of ‘records’ – a list of instructions for what to do when a device asks for a web page, an email etc. This is called the DNS configuration.

    For example, when you enter ‘little-fire.com’ into your web browser, your computer asks the DNS for the IP address for the web server associated with the domain name and sends the browser to look there.

    FTP

    The File Transfer Protocol is a set of rules (a protocol) by which files can be copied from your computer to a location on the internet. This is often employed when uploading files on a website. Web developers often use a separate piece of software – an FTP client – to move files around the internet.

    IP

    Not quite a TLA but essential nonetheless: IP stands for Internet Protocol and refers to a set of numbers or letters by which everything on the internet is identified – its IP address.

    An IP address is like a phone number – each device, every computer, every phone, every server, every smart device within a network (in this case the whole internet) must have a unique number.

    Old style IP addresses (IPV4) quite complicated (e.g. 216.58.212.238).

    Newer addresses (IPV6) are really complicated (e.g. 2607:f8b0:4003:c00::6a:80).

    Clearly, no sane human being should be expected to remember such things. Fortunately we have DNS so computers can remember it all for us.

    IRC

    Internet Relay Chat platforms are everywhere. When you use the contact widget in the bottom left of many website – that’s a little IRC programme running. Anywhere where text conversations are carried out real time, that’s IRC.

    MVC

    The term ‘MVC’ is a favourite amongst programmers. It stands for Model View Controller and refers to a method (or a design pattern) for organising computer code. It’s offers a means or writing code that is easy for developers to read, understand and expand upon.

    If a client asks “Can I have my web page as a PDF?”, with MVC, the answer is probably “Yes!“.

    MX

    A Mail Exchange record is part of DNS. It identifies a mail server as the destination for emails sent to any given domain (e.g. info@little-fire.com).

    DMARC

    Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance is yet another DNS record. DMARC, is a technical standard that helps protect email senders and recipients from spam, spoofing, and phishing. A correctly-set DMARC record can help prevent the emails you send from ending up in other peoples’ junk folders.

    GIF

    The Graphics Interchange Format is an older image file format. It supports simple transparency and animation. Better than a JPG (JPEG) for displaying logos but these days a good developer will normally use a PNG or an SVG if they want a crisp transparent image. Stephen Wilhite, the guy who invented the format insists it should be pronounced “jif” but what does he know? Most people use the hard G (sounds like “glyph”).

    HTML

    HyperText Markup Language is the page-description language which your browser uses to build and format web pages. It is an extension of XML with a specific set of tags which allow for the placement of images (identified by a URL), text and inclusion of scripts to make the page appear in your browser.

    HTTP

    The HyperText Transfer Protocol is a set of rules (a protocol) by which data is transferred across the internet for web pages. HTTP is understood by all browsers and web servers – it is the language of the World Wide Web. HTTP allows a server to send a set of instructions for building a web page and the browser the ability to understand those instructions and build it.

    HTTPS

    HTTP is not a secure protocol – a crook with appropriate knowledge can read your internet activity in transit through the internet. If the bank is showing you your statement online, this is not a good idea. The HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure is an enhanced set of rules which allows your computer and the server to agree to encrypt everything that happens between your device and the web server.

    JPEG

    Another common abbreviation (and occasional file suffix) for JPG – stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group.

    JPG

    Until recently the most popular image file format on the internet. The Joint Photographic Experts Group file format allows photographic images to be compressed before being saved for download across slow internet connections. The degree of compression can be controlled the user. The better quality the image the larger the file size. These days, Google prefers the WEBP file format which offers less quality loss and a smaller file size.

    JSON

    JavaScript Object Notation is a data exchange format. Unlike XML, it does not have an agreed standard set of tags and it does not include any unwanted instructions or data. As a result it makes for small (fast) files which are very hard for puny humans to read. It is particularly useful when creating online applications where Javascript sends data to and interprets information from the web server, making a web page responsive.

    JS

    Left to themselves, HTML pages are boring. Even nicely-designed ones just sit there … just beautiful images and powerful, poetic words – doing nothing. JavaScript is there to change all that. Originally used to do ‘rollover’ images, JavaScript has evolved to become an incredibly useful part of web design: from validating an email address before submitting a form, ensuring the images that you actually want to see are loaded from the server (saving your phone valuable data) to all those lovely carousels. It can even power whole web applications.

    PCI

    The term PCI is frequently-used shorthand for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) which is the set of rules set out by the payment card industry to establish whether a web server is sufficiently up to date and well protected to be considered secure enough for receiving and storing payment card details. In all but the most demanding cases, Little Fire Digital will use payment gateways which handle the collection and storage of client card data – meaning we never store your payment data if we can avoid it. All our e-commerce solutions are scanned regularly to ensure their compliance nonetheless. We consider it the ‘baseline’ security level for protecting your, and your clients’ data.

    PDF

    The Portable Document Format was created by Adobe® Corporation as a standard document type which could be opened and read on any computer. It cannot be edited in the same way as, say, a Word document; but almost every device allows you to open it and it will look as the designer intended.

    PHP

    Left to themselves, HTML pages are boring. Even nicely-designed ones just sit there … just beautiful images and powerful, poetic words – the same day after day. PHP Hypertext Protocol is there to change all that. The PHP bit isn’t really an acronym – it‘s what passes for a joke amongst web developers. PHP is what’s known as a server language – there are others – but 80% of the world’s websites are powered by PHP (including this one). Server languages allow the web server to build websites that are infinitely flexible referring to databases and external sources of information to choose which content to display. For example a PHP page could identify you from a cookie, establish that you are logged in, refer to a calendar, look up an RSS feed and show you all the news that has happened since you last visited the website.

    RSS

    Really Simple Syndication is a version of XML, specifically designed for sharing news stories between websites. It’s a very simple format – a list of headlines, sub-headlines, images, dates and URLs. RSS is still widely used.

    SEO

    Search Engine Optimisation the big one. Barely a day goes by when someone does’t mention SEO. In short, its a series of methods and practices to ensure your website appears near the top of the results when users search for relevant terms in Google, Bing or other search engines. The internet is a big, busy and ever-changing environment, without SEO your website is likely to get lost in the noise.

    SSL

    A Secure Socket Layer is a standard security technology for sending encrypted data between a server and a client – whether it be a web server (website) and a browser, or a mail server and email client (Outlook, Gmail or Apple Mail). SSL relies on a system of SSL Certificates issued by trusted, third-party providers (e.g. Digicert, Qualys etc) which allows your website to be independently verified and trusted.

    SPF

    Adding a Sender Protection Framework record to your DNS records allows you to specify which organisation and devices can send out emails purporting to be from your organisation. It is particularly useful for enabling websites and other services to send emails to your clients. It helps prevent your emails from ending up in your clients’ spam folders.

    SVG

    Unlike other image formats, the Scalable Vector Format image format describes an image as a set of curves and outlines rather than a grid of coloured pixels. For simple logos and diagrams, this can mean a much smaller file size. SVG’s can be displayed pin-sharp at any size. We like SVG files.

    TCP

    The Transmission Control Protocol means by which data is communicated across the internet. Everything sent across the internet is chopped up into tiny parcels of data (octets). TCP establishes the connection between your device (the client) and the website (server); sends your request (‘get me this picture’) and receives and validates the octets of data which come back and reassembles it into that picture you asked for of a cat in a scanner.

    URI

    The Uniform Resource Indicator is a unique sequence of characters that identifies a logical or physical resource used by web technologies. Anything, anything, on the internet needs a unique address – there are a lot of entities out there to which the rest of the world might need access. Get the wrong one and your website or application may break.

    URL

    The Uniform Resource Locator a class of URI. Also known as an internet address. In theory, every single item connected to the internet can be identified by a URL such as

    https://www.little-fire.com/contact

    A url is made up of several components:

    • Protocol http:// … get me a web page, https:// … get me a secure web page, ftp:// … get me a file
    • Domain name … ‘little-fire.com’ … I want to get itfrom those little-fire guys
    • Path … ‘contact’ … I want to visit those shmoos, where’s their office?

    VLE

    A Virtual Learning Environment is an online application specifically designed to assist online learning – Moodle is probably the most well-known, mature and widely adopted VLE. Virtual Learning Environments typically offer a framework for the distribution of learning materials, IRC for communication in term time and a test framework to establish the success of the students’ learning.

    VPN

    A Virtual Private Network is a piece of software used to keep your internet activity private and secure. The VPN creates a secure tunnel between your phone or computer and a private VPN server before forwarding your traffic on to the website or application you’re trying to reach.

    Putting another machine between you and the rest of the internet means that someone looking from the ‘outside’ ‘in’ …  can only see the VPN server’s IP address which means it cannot identify you.

    WEPB

    Described as a ‘progressive image format’, Web Picture format images are (as of 2022) Google’s preferred image format. Offering animation, transparency and massive compression – it’s probably ours too.

    WWW

    Most people know this – World Wide Web. Although recognised by most people, it’s worth mentioning that it’s not the internet as such. It’s just the part of the internet which is made of web pages and the links between them. All those other bits where, for example, your phone app talks to your bank … that’s the rest of the internet.

    XML

    This stands for Extensible Markup Language. XML is a data exchange format – an agreed means of writing text so that computers can pass information to each other and understand it (in some ways computers are still very stupid).

    Markup is a means of writing text combined with instructions relating to it.

    For example, the markup:

    Look at this bold text

    will appear in a web browser as:

    Look at this bold text

    XML is extensible and has many, many variants – sets of tags – which means it has almost limitless uses. It is normally relatively easy for a human being to read.

    Well known XML variants include HTML which is used to format web pages and RSS

    Need to Ease Your Customers’ Journey?

    If you think about it, you probably do. Talk to us, we‘re good at this.

    Drop us a line

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    Categories
    Web Development

    What is DNS?

    It’s a question we hear often. But, unlike many other bits of online jargon, it’s quite easy to explain.

    So here goes … What is DNS?

    DNS stands for Domain Name System and is the single, central list of how to find anything on the internet …

    Each device or computer on the internet has a unique IP address so other devices and machines can find them, a bit like a house number, street and postal code.
     
    Of course, that series of numbers doesn’t look good on the side of a bus, over your restaurant door or on a business card, so DNS enables us to have a name, usually a business or project name as the address (e.g. fredspizzastore.co.uk).

    Imagine, when you text your pal Joe on the your phone, there are loads of Joes out there – but you have saved Joe’s phone number against the name ‘Joe’ on your phone. You can’t remember Joe’s number but your phone does. DNS is like that – but for everyone.

    So DNS or basically works like the yellow pages of the internet for computers. DNS translates the easy to read and market domain name ( e.g. haywines.co.uk ) and translates that into an IP address, which is the physical address of a server on the internet that hosts your website, or email or app.

    That’s Just for Us Puny Humans, But There’s More to DNS Than That …

    But DNS is much more than just converting website addresses into physical locations on the internet. It handles all sorts of other requests too, direction for email traffic, voice over IP, security certicates and website validation, email verification and more.
     
    DNS can also be used to proteect your website, app or service from attack by hiding your service’s true location from the internet. Services such as Cloudflare provide extensions to their Domain Name Configuration so the exact location of your devices is hidden from hackers and trolls to help keep your critical services running.
     
    A properly configured domain DNS can be the difference between getting email, or not – services like SPF (sender policy framework), DMARC (Domain Message Authenticaion and Conformance) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) all rely on DNS to pass the relevant information from server to server.
     
    Are you sure your domain’s DNS is configured properly? Would you know how to check? Does email you send go into people’s junk folders ? is your site protected from a DDoS (denial of service) attack?
     
    We can check and report on your DNS for you now, why not drop us a line….

    Phew!

    If that was too many Three Letter Acronyms (TLA) for you sorry. For more explanation, you check out our jargon busting ‘What is a TLA?’ article – or just let us worry about it.

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    A Little Case Study

    CHAT

    Let’s Parley …

    It’s rarely easy grafting new code onto old. Existing systems have a way of working which cannot change without significant investment and potential disruption. Whilst at the same time, technology moves on, meaning that there are benefits to be gained – if only one could integrate them.

    So it is with Jagged Globe, who have a long-standing database of dazzling photographs of the world’s highest places. These are used to great effect across the website and are an integral part of both Jagged Globe’s marketing material and the website’s function.

    With the huge advances in digital photography, the number of images the company receive is increasing all the time and the existing methods of uploading images is becoming onerous and impractical.

    The existing site has stringent rules for categorising and naming images and a complex post upload processing procedure. We could find no single plugin which offered the ease of use hoped for and compliance with the existing website – a custom solution was required.

    Case StudyWith skill and expertise, Little Fire have been able to extend the existing, bespoke Jagged Globe website, integrating a new bulk upload page. The new site implements everything the old procedure offered, but one can add 20, 30 or more images at once. Errors are reported, progress monitored on a file by file basis and, once uploaded, the photos are saved, filed and categorised as they always have been. All the while, Jagged Globe staff can get on with other things.

    Agents can now upload images in Nepal as clients come off the mountain and they are ready to use in the Sheffield office immediately.

    It’s not been easy, but it has been fun. We really do love this stuff.

    Jagged GLobe Bulk Image Uploader

    Drop us a line

    !function(){function t(t){this.element=t,this.animationId,this.start=null,this.init()}if(!window.requestAnimationFrame){var i=null;window.requestAnimationFrame=function(t,n){var e=(new Date).getTime();i||(i=e);var a=Math.max(0,16-(e-i)),o=window.setTimeout(function(){t(e+a)},a);return i=e+a,o}}t.prototype.init=function(){var t=this;this.animationId=window.requestAnimationFrame(t.triggerAnimation.bind(t))},t.prototype.reset=function(){var t=this;window.cancelAnimationFrame(t.animationId)},t.prototype.triggerAnimation=function(t){var i=this;this.start||(this.start=t);var n=t-this.start;504>n||(this.start=this.start+504),this.element.setAttribute(“transform”,”rotate(“+Math.min(n/1.4,360)+” 12 12)”);if(document.documentElement.contains(this.element))window.requestAnimationFrame(i.triggerAnimation.bind(i))};var n=document.getElementsByClassName(“nc-loop_circle-02-24”),e=[];if(n)for(var a=0;n.length>a;a++)!function(i){e.push(new t(n[i]))}(a);document.addEventListener(“visibilitychange”,function(){“hidden”==document.visibilityState?e.forEach(function(t){t.reset()}):e.forEach(function(t){t.init()})})}();

    A Little Case Study

    CHAT

    Let’s Parley …

    It’s rarely easy grafting new code onto old. Existing systems have a way of working which cannot change without significant investment and potential disruption. Whilst at the same time, technology moves on, meaning that there are benefits to be gained – if only one could integrate them.

    So it is with Jagged Globe, who have a long-standing database of dazzling photographs of the world’s highest places. These are used to great effect across the website and are an integral part of both Jagged Globe’s marketing material and the website’s function.

    With the huge advances in digital photography, the number of images the company receive is increasing all the time and the existing methods of uploading images is becoming onerous and impractical.

    The existing site has stringent rules for categorising and naming images and a complex post upload processing procedure. We could find no single plugin which offered the ease of use hoped for and compliance with the existing website – a custom solution was required.

    Case StudyWith skill and expertise, Little Fire have been able to extend the existing, bespoke Jagged Globe website, integrating a new bulk upload page. The new site implements everything the old procedure offered, but one can add 20, 30 or more images at once. Errors are reported, progress monitored on a file by file basis and, once uploaded, the photos are saved, filed and categorised as they always have been. All the while, Jagged Globe staff can get on with other things.

    Agents can now upload images in Nepal as clients come off the mountain and they are ready to use in the Sheffield office immediately.

    It’s not been easy, but it has been fun. We really do love this stuff.

    Drop us a line

    !function(){function t(t){this.element=t,this.animationId,this.start=null,this.init()}if(!window.requestAnimationFrame){var i=null;window.requestAnimationFrame=function(t,n){var e=(new Date).getTime();i||(i=e);var a=Math.max(0,16-(e-i)),o=window.setTimeout(function(){t(e+a)},a);return i=e+a,o}}t.prototype.init=function(){var t=this;this.animationId=window.requestAnimationFrame(t.triggerAnimation.bind(t))},t.prototype.reset=function(){var t=this;window.cancelAnimationFrame(t.animationId)},t.prototype.triggerAnimation=function(t){var i=this;this.start||(this.start=t);var n=t-this.start;504>n||(this.start=this.start+504),this.element.setAttribute(“transform”,”rotate(“+Math.min(n/1.4,360)+” 12 12)”);if(document.documentElement.contains(this.element))window.requestAnimationFrame(i.triggerAnimation.bind(i))};var n=document.getElementsByClassName(“nc-loop_circle-02-24”),e=[];if(n)for(var a=0;n.length>a;a++)!function(i){e.push(new t(n[i]))}(a);document.addEventListener(“visibilitychange”,function(){“hidden”==document.visibilityState?e.forEach(function(t){t.reset()}):e.forEach(function(t){t.init()})})}();

    Boring & Dull

    Keep in Touch
    !function(){function t(t){this.element=t,this.animationId,this.start=null,this.init()}if(!window.requestAnimationFrame){var i=null;window.requestAnimationFrame=function(t,n){var e=(new Date).getTime();i||(i=e);var a=Math.max(0,16-(e-i)),o=window.setTimeout(function(){t(e+a)},a);return i=e+a,o}}t.prototype.init=function(){var t=this;this.animationId=window.requestAnimationFrame(t.triggerAnimation.bind(t))},t.prototype.reset=function(){var t=this;window.cancelAnimationFrame(t.animationId)},t.prototype.triggerAnimation=function(t){var i=this;this.start||(this.start=t);var n=t-this.start;504>n||(this.start=this.start+504),this.element.setAttribute(“transform”,”rotate(“+Math.min(n/1.4,360)+” 12 12)”);if(document.documentElement.contains(this.element))window.requestAnimationFrame(i.triggerAnimation.bind(i))};var n=document.getElementsByClassName(“nc-loop_circle-02-24”),e=[];if(n)for(var a=0;n.length>a;a++)!function(i){e.push(new t(n[i]))}(a);document.addEventListener(“visibilitychange”,function(){“hidden”==document.visibilityState?e.forEach(function(t){t.reset()}):e.forEach(function(t){t.init()})})}();