Simpler Website Tech: Leaving the PHP Island

Image: Images from Wikimedia Commons, combining Nihoa, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and Lempisaari, Naantali, Finland. CC A and CC BY.

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Citation format: The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition

Jackson, Daniel. ‘Simpler Website Tech: Leaving the PHP Island’, 2020.

Part of a new GenR series for 2020 ‘Open Science Pro Tip’ where Open Science researchers share their digital know-how.

Researcher and developer Daniel Jackson shares his experiences of using flat file web technologies that can take the headaches out of running a research website by reducing maintenance tasks, lowering costs, avoid security headaches, and helping with archiving and keeping a site online long-term. The article covers a number of research site examples from running a personal site, for a research project, or archiving a site at the end of a project. Flat file approaches came about because of the long-standing security vulnerability of websites built on PHP/MySQL which continually run the risk of opening up a whole web server computer to being hijacked. The solution to this ‘vulnerability’ problem is quite simple, remove the machine from the equation, just serve HTML/CSS and any other assets needed — hence the name ‘flat file’ sites. 

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