Avatar of Pēteris Caune

Python Django PostgreSQL Bootstrap jQuery

Healthchecks.io is a SaaS cron monitoring service. I needed a tool to monitor my cron jobs. I was not happy with the existing options, so I wrote one. The initial goal was to get to a MVP state, and use it myself. The followup goals were to add functionality and polish the user interface, while keeping the UI and the under the hood stuff as simple and clean as possible.

Python and DJango were obvious choices as I was already familiar with them, and knew that many of Django's built-in features would come handy in this project: ORM, testing infrastructure, user authentication, templates, form handling.

On the UI side, instead of doing the trendy "React JS app talking to API endpoints" thing, I went with the traditional HTML forms, and full page reloads. I was aiming for the max simplicity. Paraphrasing Kevin from The Office, why waste time write lot JS when form submit do trick. The frontend does however use some JS, for example, to support live-updating dashboards.

The backend is also aiming for max simplicity, and I've tried to keep the number of components to the minimum. For example, a message broker or a key-value store could be handy, but so far I'm getting away with storing everything in the Postgres database.

The deployment and hosting setup is also rather primitive by today's standards. uWSGI runs the Django app, with a nginx reverse proxy in front. uWSGI and nginx are run as systemd services on bare metal servers. Traffic is proxied through Cloudflare Load Balancer, which allows for relatively easy rolling code upgrades. I use Fabric for automating server maintenance. I did use Ansible for a while but moved back to Fabric: my Ansible playbooks were slower, and I could not get used to mixing YAML and Jinja templating.

Healthchecks.io tech decisions in one word: KISS. Use boring tools that get the job done.

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9 upvotes·1 comment·152.9K views
Alex Becker
Alex Becker
·
March 6th 2019 at 5:30PM

Here here! I use almost the same setup for my solo project uses almost exactly the same stack--although I went with a newer CSS framework called Bulma instead of Bootstrap (which was my go-to in the past), and I use gunicorn instead of uWSGI.

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Django powers the server side, React powers client side. So this is not a "either / or" decision, they do different things and are not exchangeable. (analogy: "should I choose a diesel engine or an automatic transmission?" -- well, you likely need both!)

I've used Django a lot and can say it lets you be productive, and it has good security defaults – doesn't have many "footguns". If you already know Python, it would likely be a reasonable choice.

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8 upvotes·11.5K views

Email hosting for the company email addresses: when I set this up 5 years ago, I cobbled together a Zoho+Gmail setup. My requirements at the time were:

  • must be cheap or free
  • must support a custom domain
  • I would like to read and write email in Gmail interface which I was already using for personal mail

Years went and things changed – most importantly, all privacy aspects are now significantly more important to me than they used to be. Late December 2020, I migrated to Fastmail, and tore down the previous setup. Some of the plus points for going with Fastmail:

  • their company values resonate with mine
  • they have an alright first-party mobile app
  • they support WebAuthn for 2FA
  • they have a reasonable pricing
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6 upvotes·11.6K views
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