There's also some new FarCry Community Forums running Discourse in a Docker container on DigitalOcean. If you haven't had a look at FarCry Core in a while I'd recommend giving it a try, it's really shaping up nicely :)
I'm now up and running with a shiny new Ubuntu "droplet" on DigitalOcean :)
Who? What? Why?
For the last several years I've been running my blog and a couple of other sites from a cheap, reasonable VM host who have generally met my expectations, minus a security scare or two. In January I started playing with DigitalOcean and was immediately impressed but not quite ready to make the switch. My blog has had some downtime in the last few weeks so I figured it was time.
I have to say DigitalOcean is fantastic. From sign-up to creating your first "droplet" to logging onto the console literally takes no more than a few minutes. After few apt-get installs, a couple of git pulls, a MySQL import, a Railo installer and an ngingx config later, here we are! My first impressions are that my blog - which runs on FarCry Core 7.0 - is somewhere between 3-5 times faster than it was on the previous host. Startup times are fast, page processing is fast (sub-10 milliseconds, without template or webskin caching!), and CPU responsiveness seems to be consistently fast as well, all on the $5/month droplet size.
The Setup, the Stack
DigitalOcean have loads of Community tutorials that make it very easy to get up and running, and it's also a good sanity check to see if you've got everything covered in your configuration practices. First step is obviously to create your droplet and choose the hardware specs and OS that you're going to use. I went with a 512MB RAM 20GB SSD droplet running Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.
My setup isn't too complex and, with the exception of SFTP, these are all things that I've done many times before in development environments (or their equivalents on production Windows servers), but I did check on a few tutorials just in case. Here are some that I found useful:
- How to Set Up Railo CFML Engine with Tomcat and Apache on a Debian 7 or Ubuntu 13 VPS
- How To Set Up Nginx Server Blocks (Virtual Hosts) on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
- Step Two—Install MySQL
- How To Set Up vsftpd on Ubuntu 12.04
The final stack running on my droplet is:
- Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
- MySQL 5.5
- Railo 4.1 on Tomcat 7
- nginx 1.6
- FarCry Core 7.0
There are other bits and pieces like Varnish that I'd like to have in an ultimate FarCry Core + Railo droplet template, but I think that's work for another day and deserves its own series of blog entries!
Try the Referral Program
If you want to give DigitalOcean a try and see for yourself, please follow my referral link below. If you sign up and spend $10 then I'll also get a $10 credit :) I've never been big on wishlists or donation buttons, but these guys have a great service that I'm happy to recommend and a little credit to run my blog would be nice!
The FarCry Core webtop has had a huge makeover in recent months. One of the new features we've added is a configurable, extendable Dashboard for the webtop home page.
When Ghost was announced last year there was a lot of hype and controversy surrounding the dashboard and it's availability; it was beautifully designed, but was it useful or neccessary? For FarCry we think dashboards are useful but they need to contain a mix of statistics and activity feeds - the useful stuff that a user really wants to know when they are about to start work.
Out of the box we ship a few simple dashboard cards as examples but the main idea is that developers can create dashboard cards that are tailored to their products, plugins or projects. For example the FarCry CMS plugin ships with dashboard cards that shows embargoed news and recently receieved user feedback. For custom applications the possibilities are endless; new user registrations, comments to be moderated, integrated analytics, newsletter signups, this weeks sales figures, etc.
FarCry Core 7.0 is shaping up to be a great release so keep your eye out for more news in the coming weeks :)
The login page in the upcoming release of FarCry Core 7 has had a similar redesign treatment to the overall webtop redesign. In addition to adding a custom webtop logo you can also upload a background image for the login page which makes it easier to customise out of the box. The login page will also still work with our existing User Directory plugins such as LDAP, RPX Now and Google OAuth (though with Google OAuth set as the default User Directory you essentially skip the login screen).
This is the default login page for a vanilla installation of FarCry Core with a plain grey background. To customise it, log in to the webtop and browse to Admin -> General Configuration, and upload a Login Background image:
Once your background image has uploaded, log out to see your new masterpiece :)
Blurry, abstract and textured background images give a nice effect and can still help convey the brand of your application, while adding a little something extra to the often bland login page that goes unappreciated!
In the upcoming relase of FarCry Core 7 we've rewritten the Site Tree to make it fast, easy to use, and added a nice quick preview feature.
The Site Tree now looks more consistent with the other object admin grids across the webtop but of course feature expanding nodes that are loaded via Ajax, and a simplified context menu that is touch friendly. This is one of the parts of FarCry Core where we've stated to use Backbone.js for some of the more complicated UI elements (the other main one being the new bulk file and image upload UI).
The quick preview button (the "eye" icon next to Edit) is a nice new feature which lets you preview a page in the site tree without leaving the webtop or even opening a new tab. It also supports switching between different screen sizes and makes use of FarCry's native support for device targeted webskins. This means you could preview a page using the mobile templates as opposed to the full desktop version, or if you build one set of webskins that are fully responsive you can see the effects of using different screen widths, or you can mix and match the two techniques.
The quick preview feature will be also be made available to standard object admin grids in other areas of the webtop some time before release.
Special thanks to Mark from TAFE Western for the use of the screenshots in this post :)
I've just finished a quick conversion from BlogCFC to a brand spanking, bleeding edge revision of the upcoming FarCry Core 7.0, along with a move of all previous comments to Disqus. I'll be releasing the FarCry Blog plugin including the BlogCFC data / comments migration tools in the near future. For now however, enjoy this tasty screenshot which gives a small teaser of the brand new Webtop in FarCry 7 :)
FarCry Express is a "ready to run" installation of the latest FarCry 6.1 code base and the brand spanking new Fandango theme. So now you have no excuse for not checking out the latest FarCry code base!
Express is not a production ready environment, but its a lot of fun to get a handle on the FarCry caper, run a few tests, do some training or just toy with an idea. The install runs a Railo Express instance from the folder -- everything is contained in the one little directory branch. To uninstall or start a-fresh, just delete the folder and you're done. It even works on a USB!