Splitting out your marketing pages from your main web application
I read an article last month on Adding static pages to your Rails app and I’ve been meaning to write up how we do the same thing at Clockwise.MD. In fact, it’s been a very long time since I’ve written on my blog.
It’s funny that I’m finding time to write in the middle of a hackathon at 48-in-48. After joining three teams, it seems I’ve completed everything on my list and I’m waiting on Stephanie to wrap up. So that must mean it’s a great time to start writing again and create a blog entry! Hopefully I can write up something about this experience when I’m done.
Back to static pages for your web application.
The benefit of splitting out your main app from your static marketing pages is creating an enviornment the best suits your authors/editors, designers and engineers. Take Clockwise.MD for instance, we have a well defined SDLC process for making changes to the web application. It includes testing, peer review, approvals and carefully selecting which memoral quote, interesting fact or animated GIF to add to your PR approval. The flip side is our head of marketing shouldn’t need an extensive PR process to add a new pet to our Team page.
Similar to the earlier article I mentioned, we needed to load static pages up for our app but we don’t want to host those files on our actual web server. Instead, we created our web site using Jekyll. The resulting static site is uploaded to S3 with a CDN in front to make the site load fast. Then any files we don’t want to serve up from our web application, we proxy down from our CDN and send it to the requestor. We also cache it so that it’s super fast.
class PagesController < ApplicationController def www_base expires_in 1.hour, public: true response = s3_pages(request.path) render status: response.code, inline: response.body end private def s3_pages(path) uri = URI('https://your-s3-or-cdn-site.com' + adjusted_path(path)) http = Net::HTTP.new(uri.host, uri.port) http.use_ssl = true http.ciphers = 'TLSv1.2:!aNULL:!eNULL' http.ssl_version = :TLSv1_2 http.verify_mode = OpenSSL::SSL::VERIFY_PEER request = Net::HTTP::Get.new(uri.request_uri) http.request(request) end end
Then at the bottom of your
routes.rb file, add:
# external pages root to: 'pages#www_base' get '*unmatched_route', to: 'pages#www_base'
Now your home page will hit
pages#www_base. Additionally, any page that’s
not already specified earlier on your web application’s routes will be routed
to your static site. If a user hits
/products, then that same request will
get served up from your static site. If a user hits
/foo/bar and that path
doesn’t exist, then they’ll even get your static site’s 404 page and
will send back the correct 404 status code as well.
To make things easier for your marketing folks, let them edit pages using Github’s online editors then setup a CI process to rebuild and redeploy the static site on every commit. Instant updates without having to the install the Wordpress malware.