To Https or not to Https? That is the question! Whether ’tis nobler ….

What is Https?

HTTP Secure is an extension of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol for secure communication over a computer network, and is widely used on the Internet. In HTTPS, the communication protocol is encrypted using Transport Layer Security, or formerly, its predecessor, Secure Sockets Layer. The protocol is therefore also often referred to as HTTP over TLS, or HTTP over SSL.

From Wikpedia

An earlier post I started trying to migrate 6 odd sites from Http to Https and also update to WordPress 5.0. I think I ran into a few challenges. It was not a strategically planned process but a “Bull in a china shop” plan. I had a few issues. Things broke & I am still fixing them.

On updating to Https I have to wait for a certificate for a couple of sites as I was a bit enthusiastic on one of the processes I was using and over installed the certificates and updated them multiple times for the same sites. That pause has given me time to reflect on the issue.

I currently have 2 of the 6 sites running as Https. My Offer of Services site, and one of my demonstration sites.

The offer of services site is new, and it should be a https site. No doubt about that. People coming to it to look for services will want a secure site. I am not currently doing payment on the site, but may in future.

My other sites though, I’m not so sure about. Yes it would be nice to have them all Http,s but the implications of setting them up for that are quite  challenging.

Current Http to HTTPS issues I am managing

I’ll use the example of the demonstration site I have just moved to Https. It is still giving me grief and I may even go back to allowing http on the site. Why?

I have built examples of tools such as maps, heat-maps, browser linked sheet sets, panoramas linked to pdfs and browser images and a lot of other external files.

These have been developed over about 5 years, whilst at the same time learning programming and specific programmes.  Some of the tools/demonstrations are not particularly current but convey the principles and ideas. That is fine for the demonstration site.

If I was to do this for a new client I would build for today’s environment with my extra experience.

This is the issue trying to keep things current. They don’t need to be. The principals and ideas are demonstrable, that is all that is required. A new brief would build a new tool/demonstration.

I am, at present, trying to fix up several of the tools to work across https. It is a real pain. Things that I am encountering:

  1. html doctype declaration still have http  eg  <!DOCTYPE html  “”>
  2. Calling external programmes through scripts still call http://…… .js etc eg D3.js
  3. Links are to file links that are http://   even some of the internal pages of the site, but Better Search & Replace plugin for WordPress can sort out some of these.
  4. Files that they link to are http://. This particular example was for panorama photos linked to a PDF file with links embedded within it. I had to re-do about 15 links in the one pdf file to point to https instead of http. That took a bit of time, and that was one file.
  5. A couple of my maps do not work now, or are a little erratic, working on one browser but not another. I am still debugging these.
  6. Links to external programmes, originally pointing to an http reference, the sites now have a https reference but the programme no longer works, possibly the new https sites have been modified so the old ones do not work anymore.

The tool is a handy first check.

So suddenly, from an operational website you have only half of it working.Quite frustrating.

For the time being I will continue to debug this site as it fits in with the services I am offering on the Offer of Services site above.

For my other sites I will need to think whether it is worth the effort to do. What is it worth to update these sites? For the time being they are fit for purpose and require minimal maintenance.

To update them may require a lot of effort without too much reward.

Even my non Https sites need to have their links updated to the sites that have migrated across to Https. The Better Search & Replace plugin for WordPress  can sort some of these issues out but you do suddenly come across a link that doesn’t work.

Google & Https

The original reasoning for changing to Https was to get Google to crawl the sitemaps for my other sites.

The other sites had banners that told about the Services Site I was setting up. So the logic was that if they were made Https they would be crawled more frequently. Also I couldn’t upload my sitemaps for Http sites, Google Search Console did not want to accept them.

For the benefit that I will get from this for the effort I need to put in, I do not think its worth it.

Over time, the http may be phased out, and that too is fine. For that i need to consider what I will do in the future. For the present, I think I’ll leave my other sites as Http.

One big reason is my Post site has over 150 posts, a lot linking to odd demo’s here and there and to go through and find all of those issues I do not think is worth my time and effort at this point.

End thoughts.

I think I may have to start a new blog site that starts as Https and slowly transition across to that site. If some of the posts on the http site are relevant I may re-write them on the new site, adding some SEO (search Engine Optimization) at the beginning rather than retrospectively doing it as I currently am to the existing site.

So maybe a new blog site is the next project, after I have all these *********!!! bugs fixed for the Https sites. And you have to update them every 3 months for  the free versions from LetsEncrypt.

Will’s quote from Hamlet

“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;  no more; and by a sleep to say we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation devoutly to be wish’d.

To die, to sleep; to sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub; for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause: there’s the respect that makes calamity of so long life; for who would bear the whips and scorns of time, the oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, the pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office and the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes, when he himself might his quietus make with a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life, but that the dread of  something after death, the undiscover’d country from whose bourn no traveller returns, puzzles the will and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all; and thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, and enterprises of great pith and moment with this regard their currents turn awry, and lose the name of action.

Soft you now!  the fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons be all my sins remember’d!”

A lovely piece of prose.


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