As of January 2019 PHP 7.3 has arrived on STORM. 7.3 includes bug fixes, new features, new functionalities and, most importantly, some performance improvements. Find out more in the release notes. PHP 7.3 is now the default choice for any new sites on STORM.
We know that editing your hosts file can be painful, and even more painful asking your clients to do it, so we have made this much easier with a new feature inside STORM. If STORM detects your website is WordPress and the DNS on the website is not yet live you have the option to enable WordPress Preview. WordPress Preview is a toggle on the website dashboard that takes just a few seconds to enable.
Once enabled WordPress Preview will add a temporary domain to your STORM website and update the address inside WordPress to this temporary domain. STORM will automatically enable prevent robots to deter Google and search engines from indexing your development website.
When WordPress Preview is disabled STORM will remove the temporary domain, inside WordPress change the domain back to what it was before and disable Prevent Robots.
Please do let us know your feedback. We want to hear both the positive and negatives.
With other hosting platforms like Plesk and cPanel it is common to share the login to your servers with your team. With STORM we take a different approach that each member of your team should be invited into the server instead. We have made this process very easy by just typing their email address into the team section of each server and clicking invite. If you have multiple servers we have recently added a tick box to invite them to all of the servers in one invite.
Once you have clicked invite STORM takes care of the rest by either inviting them to register for STORM for the first time or, if they already have an account, adding the server to their existing account. You can use this approach for both members of your staff or external freelancers.
We suggest this approach for a number of reasons:-
All events are logged by user
Underneath recent events all actions that the user performs are logged against the website or server. Should something go wrong it is very easy to find out who completed that action.
With shared logins details you have no control over who and who doesn’t know the password. This is very important when you need to comply with GDPR.
Two Factor Security
If each member of your team has their own STORM login they can enable Two Factor Authentication under their profile. STORM Two Factor Authentication works with a HMAC compatible device like the Google Authenticator App available for iPhone and Android as well as 1Password. If you have not used two factor before it works by requiring both your smart phone as well as password to login to STORM. To prevent this task from becoming time consuming STORM can remember PC or Mac for 30 days.
Two Levels of Access
The primary user of the STORM server we call the owner. The owner has permission to invite other members of their team into STORM. Anyone who has been invited does not have permission to invite anyone else in. This means the owner always has control of who has access to their servers.
Should you need to elevate a member of your team to an owner please contact support who can arrange this for you.
Single Dashboard for Freelancers
Freelancers who work across different teams, agencies or end clients can have a single login for all their servers. The single STORM login reduces having multiple logins and improves security by avoiding spreadsheets and scraps of paper full of logins that could be easily compromised.
Both GitHub and BitBucket work on the same security principle as STORM where each user should have their own login. We brought this into STORM where users have access to their own repositories which, for security, should not be shared with other members of your team.
Removing Access is a Breeze
If this member of your team or freelancer leaves you can just remove their access with a single click without having to reset any passwords.
To kick off the new year we’ve launched a new feature to make it easier to sort, view and organise your websites on STORM. On a STORM server with plenty of websites it can be difficult to remember which website belongs to which client, even the status of website build or even how much client’s pay. The new Tagging system in STORM will make this process far easier.
To assign a tag to a web site just click Tagging on the server dashboard. You can then set a keyword, phrase and colour for each web site. These tags can be based on your own internal reference, client’s name, project status or another internal reference.
We have also made it really easy to search your websites by tags. On your list of websites you can search for any of your tags.
To delete a tag just hover over it with your mouse and click the cross (x).
We are looking to further develop this feature so please let us know your feedback.
One of the most popular and unique features on STORM is the dashboard search. The search allows you to search any website name, IP address or domain name across all your servers. Following feedback from STORM customers we have improved this search with two new features.
The first is auto predict, similar to Google search, that helps you complete your search criteria and shows the category the result relates to, either IP Address, web site name or additional domain.
Until now the dashboard search just narrowed down which server which hosted the web site you were looking for. However, the second enhancement redirects you directly to the dashboard of that web site. You can select any of the results using either your mouse or arrow keys. This saves time and another search on the server dashboard.
We have some further time saving improvements coming in the new year. We’ll keep you updated via our blog as soon as they are live.
WordPress 5.0, older versions and Gutenberg
Earlier this month WordPress launched 5.0 which includes Gutenberg as standard. A security release of 5.0.1 and 5.0.2 was launched a few days later. As with STORM we always installed the latest version of WordPress. You can find out more about Gutenberg.
Our client services team have received feedback from clients asking us to offer both WordPress 4.9 and 5.0 on creation of a new web site in STORM. This posed an interesting question as we offer the same flexibility for Magento with version 1.9 and 2.0.
Our development team investigated this as an option going forward but WordPress stop support for older versions once a newer version has been released. You can find more information about WordPress supported versions.
As part of the principles of STORM is best practice we feel that we cannot offer the installation of an application that is potentially insecure. We realise that Gutenberg can be quite different from the previous editor and therefore confusing for end users. As an alternative we recommend taking a look at the Classic Editor.
Today we’ve added Hugo to our list of CMS’s available for automatic installation on any new website hosted on STORM.
Hugo bills itself as the most popular open-source static site generators, with amazing speed and flexibility. As one of STORM’s key features is website loading time, it made sense for us to include Hugo for customers looking for a fast alternative to WordPress.
On a brand-new STORM server, we tested a blank install of Hugo against a blank install of WordPress. WordPress loaded in 376 milliseconds, whilst Hugo loaded in 221 milliseconds. Although the difference is marginal, this gap will widen dramatically as WordPress third party plugins and themes are installed.
Hugo is written in Go (Golang) and is technically not a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress, but a static file generator instead. Typically, most CMS’s, like WordPress, will dynamically load each page each time it’s visited which can take some time depending on the complexity. With Hugo, each page is statically written to the hard disk of the server which is much faster to load than running PHP and database queries.
According to Builtwith, over the past year, there is a huge rise in web sites using the Hugo framework. Due to the performance improvements over other CMS’s. We expect this to increase even further over the next few years.