Alex Lindgren

5 Reasons to Use HTTPS Everywhere

5 Reasons to use HTTPS everywhere

Not so long ago, only e-commerce sites and other sites that handle secure information used HTTPS, the secure (encrypted) version of the protocol for web communications. But nowadays, it is increasingly common for any site to use HTTPS. There are many reasons to use HTTPS on your site, but here are 5 big ones:

1. SEO

A couple years ago Google announced that HTTPS will be used as a ranking signal. This means that sites that use HTTPS will get a small boost in SEO juice. While Google states this will start as a “very lightweight signal” they have stated that they may decide to increase it over time.

Download the tool:
SEO Audit Checklist

2. User Perception

Google has announced beginning in July 2018 Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure”.

3. Page Speed

The speed test at www.httpvshttps.com shows there is a significant speed advantage for HTTPS. This may be a surprise to some, as historically running over an encrypted connection was considered slower. This has changed with HTTP/2.

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All major browsers support HTTP/2, the latest version of the protocol of the web. But there is a caveat – they only support it over secure connections. The speed test at www.httpvshttps.com is really comparing HTTP 1.1 with no encryption versus HTTP/2 with encryption. HTTP/2 offers significant performance improvements, so having your site load over HTTP/2 can improve the page load speed significantly, but it only works if you use HTTPS.

4. Security

This, of course, is the original and most important reason to use HTTPS. The other reasons are really just nudges to encourage us to make the web more secure. HTTPS connections are encrypted. This helps ensure that no one is eavesdropping on your communications. HTTPS is required for any forms that capture credit card data, and any sites that capture sensitive data including login credentials. It also prevents a proxy from injecting content such as advertising into your site.

5. It’s Free

Okay, it’s not really a reason to use HTTPS, but it’s a good reason not to not use it. The SSL certificates required to run a site over HTTPS used to be expensive. You can now obtain free digital certificates from the Let’s Encrypt certificate authority. Another free option is to use the Cloudflare CDN.

HTTPS is not a panacea. Just because a site has HTTPS, does not mean everything is safe and secure. There are many threats to information security out there. But HTTPS is becoming a ‘must have’ for just about every website.

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6 Umbraco Packages You Need to Install

image of hand hovering over laptop keyboard

One of the reasons Umbraco is a great content management system is the wide range of packages and extensions that are available for building sites — many of which, like Umbraco, are free and open source.

As Umbraco developers, we’re always watching out for the latest and greatest packages. Here are a few of our favorites. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list or even a top 6 list, but rather a glimpse into the great ecosphere of Umbraco extensions.

Articulate

Want a blog on your Umbraco site? Since Umbraco 7.1, Articulate has been the blogging package of choice. It supports many of the features that make up a great blog including categories & tags, themes, Live Writer support, BlogML import/export, RSS feeds and author profiles. Developed as a free, open source project by Umbraco HQ core developer Shannon Deminick, Articulate has been actively maintained and is widely used.

ASP.Net Identity for Umbraco

Looking to add single sign-on, so your website users can log into your site using their Facebook, Google (and other) accounts? You can use ASP.Net Identity for Umbraco. This enables Umbraco to work with ASP.NET Identity and use something called Owin Middleware to enable external logins with OAuth providers including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and more.

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Is Umbraco the Right CMS for you?

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Azure Blob Cache and UmbracoFileSystemProviders.Azure

These packages offload static files in the media section to the Microsoft Azure cloud so when an editor uploads a file in Umbraco, instead of saving the file to the media folder on the local drive, the file gets saved to Azure Blob Storage which can then be served via the Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN). Another package, Azure CDN Toolkit for Umbraco, makes it easy to link to resources on the Azure CDN from Umbraco templates.

Merchello

Merchello is one of the e-commerce offerings for Umbraco (the others are uCommerce and teaCommerce). Since we started using it 2 years ago, it has come a long way, adding many features expected in a modern ecommerce platform including support for promo offers and improved reports. We love it because the flexible programming API makes it great for customizing. The new FastTrack starter kit makes it easier to launch a storefront with Merchello.

Umbraco Forms

If your editors need to have the ability to create their own forms and export data submissions, Umbraco Forms is what you’re looking for. The form editor provides an intuitive user interface for creating responsive forms. As with most things Umbraco, Forms offers flexibility and extensibility with its ability to setup advanced workflows that can integrate with other systems via web services. While it is the only commercial package listed here, we think it’s worth the 99 Euros.

Vorto

Building a multilingual site? Then you’ll want to use Vorto. Vorto is a property editor wrapper that wraps an existing property editor and converts it into a multilingual property. This provides a great user interface for managing content in different languages.

 

These are a just a few of the many packages and extensions available for Umbraco. There are many, many others — most of them listed here. Interested in learning more about Umbraco? Flightpath will be hosting an Umbraco meetup on October 18 at 7 p.m.

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Flightpath Certified as NYC’s First Umbraco Gold Partner

We are pleased to announce that Flightpath has been designated as a Certified Gold Umbraco Partner. We are one of a handful of gold partners on the east coast of the U.S. and the only digital agency in NYC certified as an Umbraco partner.

Umbraco is a free, open-source web content management system (CMS) built on the ASP.NET platform with an emphasis on simplicity and ease-of-use. It has the flexibility to run anything from microsites to complex applications for Fortune 500’s.

Flightpath has been building sites with Umbraco since 2008 and we have increasingly turned to it to build easy-to-maintain content managed websites. The Umbraco CMS has matured considerably since the launch of Umbraco 7 in 2013. The CMS has improved in almost every way including:

● Improved editor’s interface including a grid editor great for building responsive web sites

● Powerful developer programming interfaces using modern technologies (ASP.NET MVC, Angular JS)

● A rich ecosystem of plugins that provide enhanced functionality including support for multilingual sites, e-commerce, and much more.

Over the last three years, as we have seen the Umbraco CMS improve, Flightpath has invested in becoming Umbraco experts. Three years ago we became certified Umbraco partners — a designation that signifies that we have obtained at least four developer certifications. We are also active within the Umbraco community: for the last two years we have hosted the New York Umbraco meetup and every year we have participated in uWestFest, the annual North American Umbraco conference which began in 2014.

Becoming a Gold Partner was a natural next step in our continued commitment to the platform. Becoming a Gold Partner benefits all our current and future clients that want to use Umbraco. First of all, Gold Partners such as Flightpath support Umbraco by financially supporting Umbraco HQ, the company that maintains the open source project. This directly translates into ongoing improvements that benefit all Umbraco users. Secondly, by being a Gold Partner, Flightpath gets direct access to the Umbraco core developers and exceptional support for our Umbraco projects.

We are excited about the future of Umbraco and look forward to growing and riding our association with it in the years to come, for clients in the New York City area and beyond.

Building Great Editor Experiences with Umbraco

At Flightpath we love building websites with the Umbraco content management system (CMS) because it gives us complete control over how the site is rendered while providing the content editor with a great, easy-to-use experience. Last year the core Umbraco team overhauled the ‘back office’ with an improved interface and they have continued to refine the editors’ experience with subsequent releases.

Continue reading “Building Great Editor Experiences with Umbraco”

The State of Umbraco

Umbraco roots are growing in North America! Flightpathers recently participated in training and sessions at the second uWestFest in Orlando, Florida. uWestFest is the annual North American Festival centered around all things Umbraco. For those that don’t yet know, Umbraco is an open source content management system (CMS) built on the .NET stack with commercial support available from Umbraco HQ based in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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Intro to Merchello: A New E-Commerce System from Umbraco

Merchello is a new, open source e-commerce system for Umbraco that was recently announced at uWestFest. It was created by Rusty Swayne of Mindfly and Jason Prothero of ProWorks. Being new, it may not be as mature and feature-rich as other systems such as Magento or uCommerce, but it has promising potential and fills a niche by providing a free, open source e-commerce solution for Umbraco web sites.

Why Merchello?

There are a number of reasons that make Merchello a compelling choice for building e-commerce websites. For one, it is licensed under the Open Source Initiative-approved MIT license. This means that it is free to use and modify. And that means you can customize it to meet your specific needs. In fact the architecture of the system is designed to make the entire storefront experience customizable.

Merchello embraces the philosophy and design principles of Umbraco. Many content management systems have a lot of plugins and modules that provide extra functionality but you are often stuck with their user experience design and it takes a lot of effort to customize that experience. Umbraco embraces simplicity and gives developers an API to build a custom user experience. Likewise, Merchello allows developers to build a custom online retail experience by providing an API for adding store functionality to the front end of their Umbraco website. The API follows the patterns and practices of the Umbraco core API, so it is easy for an experienced Umbraco developer to learn and use. The Merchello creators have provided a great sample site (pictured below) to show how to use the API to build store functionality such as product display, a shopping cart and the checkout process which you can use as a starting point. And, of course, since it is built on Umbraco, a Merchello storefront can leverage all the features and APIs that come with Umbraco to provide a great web experience.

Merchello example

Merchello’s back office embraces the new, elegant design of Umbraco 7. With Umbraco 7, the back office interface was completely redesigned and implemented using Angular.js so that it is more responsive and easy to use. The Merchello back office integrates with Umbraco in a way that is consistent with it’s user experience and extends it to provide catalog and order management. It also follows Umbraco 7’s plugin architecture for providing support for adding additional payment, shipping and taxation providers to process payment and calculate shipping and taxation.

Features

While the current release of Merchello (version 1.1) is missing some basic features, it is quickly evolving and new features are being added regularly with frequent releases.

The current version has:

  • Catalog/product management with full-text search
  • Variant pricing
  • Inventory tracking
  • Shipping methods based on providers (with flat rate and UPS providers available)
  • Payment methods based on providers (with cash and Authorize.net providers available)
  • Order management with credit card payment capture and shipping tracking

Upcoming versions will have:

  • Order notifications
  • Persisted customers integrated with the Umbraco member system
  • A Paypal payment processing provider
  • Support for multiple warehouses
  • Back office Localization

The creators of Merchello are also looking for input on what functionality to include and prioritize and, as an open source project, are of course open to accepting contributions. You can find more information about Merchello from the links in this Bitly bundle: http://bit.ly/Merchello.

This post was written by Alex Lindgren (@alexlindgren), Director of Technology at Flightpath.

Umbraco Roundtable Highlights from Internet Week NY 2014

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the Umbraco Roundtable & Intro to Merchello event on May 20 as part of Internet Week NY.  A good time was had by all and we were thrilled to meet fellow Umbraco developers and enthusiasts.  The event was the first official gathering for the NY Umbraco Meetup group, a community we are excited to continue growing and hosting events on behalf of.  

Here are some highlights and takeaways from the event: