Daily Tips & Tricks for Web Enthusiasts

Resources & Links

Let’s Encrypt

Let’s Encrypt issues digital certificates you can use to enable HTTPS (SSL/TLS) on your website for free.

I know, it sounds too good to be true, but Let’s Encrypt really does provide 100% free certificates with no downside. They’re a non-profit established for the public good and are supported by a combination of donations and corporate sponsors comprising some of the most important companies on the web, including Mozilla, Google, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Cisco, and many others.

The certificates Let’s Encrypt provides are just as secure as any other SSL/TLS certificate, even the ones that cost money. These certificates can be used to secure traffic to and from your site for a variety of purposes, from e-commerce to simply giving your visitors peace of mind. I use Let’s Encrypt here at Core Assistance, as well as on other projects, and they’ve worked wonderfully.

Many web hosts have support for Let’s Encrypt built right in. Enabling HTTPS on your website might be as easy as flipping a switch in your web host’s control panel.

If your web host doesn’t support Let’s Encrypt, ask them to!

When the web was new, no website was secure. The desire to sell things online drove the creation and adoption of secure connections to websites. These days some sites are secure and some aren’t, but we’re heading for a future where every website is secure. More and more services and systems require a secure connection, secure websites rank higher in search results, and new features are being designed and built for HTTPS only. One example is Mozilla requiring secure contexts for new features, which means that advances in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript will only work in Firefox if the connection to the website using them is secure.

With Let’s Encrypt providing completely free certificates, there’s no good reason your website should be insecure.

Down for Everyone Or Just Me?

You visit a site, but it doesn’t load. Maybe it’s your website. Maybe it’s someone else’s. Doesn’t matter. The first thought that goes through your mind is the same:

Is this down for everyone, or just me?

Good news: There’s a website to answer that very question: Down for Everyone or Just Me. Just visit the site, provide the URL of the site in question, and you’ll get your answer.

They even have a shorter domain that’s easy to remember and easy to type: isup.me

Unsplash: A Myriad of Free Photos

Unsplash describes itself thusly:

Beautiful, free photos. Gifted by the world’s most generous community of photographers. 🎁

And that’s exactly what it is: a massive (currently over 300,000) collection of completely free, high resolution images you can use for literally anything:

All photos published on Unsplash can be used for free. You can use them for commercial and noncommercial purposes. You do not need to ask permission from or provide credit to the photographer or Unsplash, although it is appreciated when possible.

If you’re curious about the history and motivation behind Unsplash, check out their manifesto. It’s an interesting read.

While its primarily a great source of images for projects, I also find Unsplash to be an invaluable resource for other reasons: Browsing the images is a great source of inspiration, many of the photos make for some stunning wallpaper, and you can extract some great color palettes from the collection.

Can I Use?

Near the top of my most-used resources is Can I use…, an incredible resource that shows you if a particular web technology is supported in the browsers you care about. It contains a wealth of information about browser support for HTML, CSS, JavaScript, SVG, Security, and more.

Just visit the site, type something in the text field at the top, and out pops some incredibly useful information tables. You can tell at a glance which versions of which browsers support what you've searched for, including full, partial, or no support. The tables can be adjusted to show various factors like global or regional market share, relative usage, browser release date, and more. You even get notes, known issues, and resources at the bottom of each result.

The Best Web Docs: MDN

MDN Web Docs is an exceptional source of documentation for the core technologies that power the web. Whenever I need to look up an attribute name, remember the available values for a property, or learn more about an obscure bit of web technology MDN is my first stop.