Site status update

Things have been moving quite steadily here at Linguaquote towers. A bit like a canal barge. There are faster ways to reach a destination, but a barge will always get there in the end.

Poor metaphor aside, the site has undergone a vast amount of change since its first iteration. We still have a site that is permanently secure against information leaks; data is encrypted from the user's internet connection, through every server along the path to ours, and back again. And not in mixed-mode either, where only certain pages are secured by SSL (better known as the 'browser padlock icon', or https://), which can be an easy attack vector for determined data-thieves. Every page request is routed over SSL to protect passwords and session information, as is current best practice.

Another best-practice development was to encrypt all user account passwords and file uploads stored on the server by default, sidestepping the risk of the kinds of leaks we see among the larger targeted companies. We will also be allowing users to add their own passwords to sensitive files, adding a further layer of protection where required.

Apart from all of the encryption and security focus, all text entry is now done in Markdown. This is a simple and efficient way to format text, and will offer a consistent standard way to display text throughout the site. A quick example:

##This is a title
*   This is a bullet-point, *Italics*, **Bold**

And so on, giving:

This is a title

  • This is a bullet-point, Italics, Bold

You don't need to remember the symbols, either. A handy toolbar allows you to quickly add and preview any formatting changes. This markdown is used instead of HTML, which can produce some rather weird and wonderful results when used differently by 100s of users. It is used in the creation of profiles and projects, via the project management system. This is for logged-in users and offers a quick way to build and work within translation teams, upload files, discuss projects and more besides. This has taken the most time to put together, forming the backbone of the site, but is nearly complete and hopefully can be rolled out for testing soon.

Another potentially interesting feature is the use of Piwik, an open source site analytics engine, over a proprietary one such as Google's own Analytics. The reason to host our own analytics engine is primarily to keep user and site data private, also respecting the 'DoNotTrack' setting allowed for in browsers.

Having moved from a small, managed server to a more powerful, yet unmanaged offer, we have implemented a regular and (surprise, surprise) encrypted backup of the site. This is done from the server to an off-site location using an encrypted connection, multiple times per day. This means that if there are major server troubles with our host, we can quickly redeploy elsewhere with little to no data loss.

Still to be done

  • Payment gateway - the final stages of implementing a payment system where trial periods, account vetting periods and simple upgrades are all possible
  • Pretty profiles - a profile that users will be happy to put their names to, with a clean design and clear information layout

That wraps up the latest site news. Sign up to the mailing list to keep up to date.

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