LJ Archive


Developing Webs

Shawn Powers

Issue #238, February 2014

Spiders are really cool. Granted, they're terrifying, but they're still really cool. They keep the pest population down, they create super heroes, and they socialize with little girls eating curds and whey, but most impressively, they make webs. Their ability to develop such intricate and useful constructions with nothing more than spinnerets and a little ingenuity is impressive. Also impressive is the ability for programmers to develop applications for our Web, the World Wide Web, and make them accessible instantly to anyone on the planet. Applications usually take more than one evening to build, but with this issue of Linux Journal, we hope to make your Web-weaving a little more efficient, and your Web a little more awesome.

We start the Web Development issue with Reuven M. Lerner's column about split testing. When it comes to commercial Web sites, a high “conversion rate” is the ultimate goal for a company, and it's the job of the Web developer to create a site that accomplishes that goal. Reuven shows how to do just that with Ruby, but the principles extend to any platform. Next, Dave Taylor finishes his series on scripting with ImageMagick with a description of how to put frames around images, again from inside a script without the need for user interaction.

Kyle Rankin gives a great lesson on hosting DNS on your own network. With Kyle's article, you'll learn not only how to host your own DNS to help with uptime, but also how to protect your privacy. My column goes in the opposite direction, as I expose my entire backyard to the Internet. Specifically, I revisit BirdCam. I've gotten lots of feedback and questions about my backyard setup, so in this article, I discuss some of the changes I've made, including adding motion detection.

For the past few years, Ruby has been one of the most popular Web development platforms available. I'm not a developer myself, but it's apparently very straightforward for developers. As a sysadmin, I can tell you it's not as easy to manage the underlying hosting system. Fabrizio Soppelsa provides some DevOps insight and describes managing a Ruby system to host those applications. If you need to host Ruby applications, but have struggled to manage the environment, you'll love Fabrizio's article.

Nitish Tiwari follows with a great article on security in Web applications. With the fast-paced world of Web development, it's easy to overlook a security hole. With Nitish's recommendations, you can avoid some of the more common exploits. Rather than plugging holes after the fact, it's better for everyone if the development is done with security in mind from the beginning.

If you're developing a Web site that likely will get lots of traffic, you might be interested in using a NoSQL database instead of the traditional relational-style system. Unfortunately, such a system isn't as common, and many folks aren't sure where to begin. This month, Mihalis Tsoukalos explains how to use Django and MongoDB to create a blog.

“The Cloud” is quite clearly here to stay. It's also evolving in such a way that the concept of “servers” is becoming less and less important. We're all familiar with Software as a Service (SaaS), but going even further down that rabbit hole is Platform as a Service (PaaS). Mitesh Soni explores the benefits of using PaaS and describes how to leverage the concept into your Web development needs. Gone are the days when companies need to manage their own Java platforms. With PaaS in the cloud, Web development platforms are just one more commodity you can buy.

We end this issue with a guest post from Susan Sons, who responded to Doc Searls' December 2013 EOF column on women and Linux. I urge you to read her article, and hopefully it furthers the conversation even more. We've put together a great issue for you this month, and whether or not you're a Web developer, you should find plenty of helpful information between the digital covers.

Shawn Powers is the Associate Editor for Linux Journal. He's also the Gadget Guy for LinuxJournal.com, and he has an interesting collection of vintage Garfield coffee mugs. Don't let his silly hairdo fool you, he's a pretty ordinary guy and can be reached via e-mail at info@linuxjournal.com. Or, swing by the #linuxjournal IRC channel on Freenode.net.

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