Simon Griffee

Web Publishing Workflow for Maximum Longevity

31 March 2014 · 5 minute read

After TextDrive’s disorderly death and the ensuing mess I’ve been thinking about the following question:

Given that one has something worthwhile to say,1 what is the best way to assure the longevity of a personal2 website published on the internet?

It is obvious that we should use standard formats such as plain text and HTML, free and open source software such as SSH and SFTP and Git, and, ideally, though I’m no luddite, open source hardware (the one closest to this description I can think of is a Raspberry Pi). It is also probably a good idea not to use an unpaid third-party to keep your content online for you (see TextDrive link above).

So what is the simplest workflow to publish something that will last on the web?

And what is the easiest way to make a copy of things regularly so you can easily move them to a different publishing space if needed or restore them if they disappear? Cron job running wget or git clone to backup a website to another server once a week?


Minimum Actions to Publish a Document Online

…Which stays online provided you, or someone, continues to pay the domain name and hosting space fees.

  1. Rent hosting space, specify auto-renewal of payment provided you have funds. Make note of DNS IP addresses for pointing a domain name to this hosting space.
  2. Rent domain.tld, specify auto-renewal of payment provided you have funds. Configure domain name settings to point to DNS IP addresses of the hosting space above.
  3. Write, draw and or photograph.
  4. Save text or image locally in folder on own device. If drawing or photographing on another device, transfer images to own device capable of publishing.
  5. Input FTP settings of rented hosting space.
  6. Publish by dragging and dropping, clicking ‘Publish’ or typing a command in a terminal and hitting Enter.
  7. The document is published online at domain.name/folder/structure/document-title.html

Additional Things Which Would Be Nice To Have

  1. A duplicate copy of the entire system easily made and copiable to any other device by running a command such as git clone. Local copy of items preserved in a folder structure which mirrors the one online. Editable documents using local system tools.
  2. WayBack Machine pinged with URL of document if it is still online one week after initial publishing.

You may want to consider writing a note and giving it to trusted friends with instructions on what to do with your documents should you perish.


References


  1. The best way to have something last a long time is to have people like it and care about it. They will make copies of it and save it for you.
  2. I specify a personal site to be clear that I am aiming at helping individual people, not entire systems, though in an ideal world each single person would, if they so liked, be published and protected by default — an ideal we should strive for.

What

Share