Sometimes you just need something to go wrong in order to make you try something new. I’ve been very curious about the new MODx Cloud service. I’ve heard that it’s lightning fast. But the thought of changing our host does not appeal to me at all. Nothing worse than migrating a ton of sites over to a new environment. Yeah, sure, I could always keep the current host for the sites that are currently on it and then start putting all of the new sites on MODx Cloud. Yeah, that did occur to me and it may be the route I take. But, for the sake of consistency and time, it is best to have all our sites in one home. But like I said, sometimes something needs to wrong in order to motivate a person to make a change.
Well, here I am. I just signed up for a free trial of the new MODx Cloud service. What went wrong, you ask? I don’t really know, and apparently neither does anyone else. We are currently using a popular cloud-based hosting service. I really haven’t had much problem with them despite a few shortcomings. I’m not even here to bash them. For all I know the problem could be 100% that of MODx. I just don’t know. But maybe the problem is 100% that of our current host. It could be both, who knows? And there lies the problem: no one knows yet.
What’s the problem? Most veteran MODx users are aware of the old “white-screen” issue. You know, the one where you get a blank white page instead of a pretty website that you just recently built and launched. We all learned that a quick clearing of the MODx cache would set things right. That issue is easy to fix and is tolerable to live with. However, something weird has been happening over that past month or so. I’m experiencing where entire menus and/or banners are disappearing. This is a miserable experience for those who have clients that keep a close eye on their site. No one likes to get news of a failing site from the client themselves. It just doesn’t look good, even if it is not your fault.
Not all of my sites are going through this mind you, just one of the more important ones, as well as 2 more that are experiencing the problem to a lesser degree. So now I feel compelled to keep an eye on that site a few times an hour just so I don’t have to hear about a downed site from the project manager or worse, the client.
This issue drives me crazy because I can’t fix it. If I am lucky, clearing the cache may help. But it usually doesn’t. I’ve learned to just chill and wait and it seems to come back. What a horrible existence! Ain’t no one got time for that!
Enter MODx Cloud
Well there you go…. There’s the problem that prompted me to try something that I was actually wanting to try anyway. Other than hearing that it is lightning fast, I know very little about MODx Cloud. But now I am very interested in knowing more. What better way than to take advantage of a 2 week free trial. That should give me the time to run a few tests to see if it is right for us as an agency.
That’s where I am right now; I just signed up and am ready to dive in. Expect a blog post in the near future about my experience and decision. But for now, I will explain why I am excited about the potential of the MODx Cloud service.
Why I am Excited About the MODx Cloud Service
1) Speed – I’ve heard from more than 1 person about this service being lightning fast. This has been a minor issue with our current cloud host. Sometimes it’s just really slow.
2) Backups – Our current cloud host does not offer backups of cloud sites as a service. Yeah they let you configure a Cron Job using third-party services or your own programming, but who needs that? MODx Cloud has a rolling 7-day backup system. Your site gets backed up each day and the most recent 7 backups are available to you to restore, if necessary. I don’t need to explain how much peace of mind that gives a developer when it comes to protecting your sites from careless edits from another co-worker or the client themselves. No matter how big or small the problem with a site, you can always roll back to when the site was not broken. Surely you wouldn’t let 7 days go by without noticing that one of your client sites is broken or down.
3) Import – I don’t know anything about Vapor (yet), but MODx claims fast and easy import of MODx site with Vapor. If this works well, it will be a huge plus when it comes to migrating the sites over from our current cloud host to ModX Cloud.
4) Upgrades – Even though I know that manually upgrading a MODx install is usually error-free and that it has yet to break one of my sites, I am very attracted to MODx’s claim of fast and easy upgrades.
5) SSH – our current cloud host does not allow shell access. Some would consider that a crime. Me, not so much. I am, after all, pretty old-school. FTp has been good to me. But I do know the advantages of having shell access and will be glad to have them back.
6) Snapshots – This is what excites me the most. For me, this is the most valuable time-saving aspect of MODx Cloud. Snapshots is the ability to copy a build of MODx that can rolled out again and again. Some of you may remember my basic template tutorial from a while back. Snapshots gives me the ability to only have to do that once. From then on, I will be able to simply start at that point for every new site I build. This will save me over an hour per project. That adds up. Snapshots can be even more beneficial to those who build basic template-sites. If most of your sites have the same structure but different colors and images, then this will save you tons of time.
MODx has 4 plans to choose from. At first glance, I was a little sticker-shocked by the Agency pricing. But after finding out what we actually pay for our current cloud hosting, MODx Cloud tends to be just a little bit cheaper. With 50 dev clouds, we could eventually port over all of our current sites. But moving forward, it just might make more sense to just have your client buy a “Client” plan and then set you as an approved member. This is cool because in your dashboard there will be a dropdown that lists all of the clouds you have access to. This will keep your agency from racking up a huge hosting bill, regardless of whether you are passing that cost on to the client or not.
That’s all I know so far. Stay tuned and I will let you know how it goes for us. In the meantime if you have questions, MODx has some answers.