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Development today relies on multiple teams, services, and environments all working in unison. A topic that always comes up, when setting up a new development environment: How do we secure important credentials, while not making it too complicated for the rest of the team?

The key when working with version control systems like Git, is to keep any type of credentials out of the versioning system. These can be API keys, database or email passwords.

Even if its a private repository, development environments might change. It can be a simple staging & live website setup you are maintaining.

.env Files for Environment Variables

The simplest way in PHP is to use .env files to store your credentials outside of the public accessible directory structure. So outside the public_html, but still within the reach of the executing environment to read it. Variables are accessible through $_ENV['yourVar'] or getenv("yourVar"), once included in your code.

To make it simple you can use the popular package vlucas/phpdotenv, which reads and imports the file automatically.

Don’t fool yourself, if an attacker finds a way into your system, these variables can be easily read. This is just hiding the file from public access and provides some convenience while developing or sharing code.

Encrypted .env files

Some people propose to encrypt / decrypt environment variables using a secret key. But if an attacker can access your data, he can also find the secret key.

There are some nice packages that offer just that. You have to decide if those fit your ammo.

  • The psecio/secure_dotenv library provides an easy way to handle the encryption and decryption of the information in your .envfile. @Github
  • johnathanmiller/secure-env-php – Env encryption and decryption library. Prevent committing and exposing vulnerable plain-text environment variables in production environments. The lib provides a nice guided interface to encrypt your .env file. @Github
  • beyondcode/laravel-credential – Add encrypted credentials to your Laravel production environment. You can edit and encrypt using php artisan credentials:edit. @Github

Apache Pull – setting environment variables

The Apache2 environment variables are set in the /etc/apache2/envvars file. These variables are not the same as the environment variables of your Linux system; they are stored and manipulated in an internal Apache structure.

The /etc/apache2/envvars file holds variable definitions such as APACHE_LOG_DIR (the location of Apache log files), APACHE_PID_FILE (the Apache process ID), APACHE_RUN_USERS (the user that run Apache, by defaultwww-data), etc.

You can open and modify this file in a text editor of your choice. This is nice, but far from simple and requires a server restart. This is something which helps you when hardening security on a live deployed setup.

There are dynamic approaches, but you can do some research for that yourself :) Skipped that rabbit hole for now …

Infrastructure Secret Management

Handling secrets completely detached is another possibility. This is surely an overkill for most cases, but using an Infrastructure Secret Management concept might be worth looking into, if you are working on bigger scale projects that involve multiple development teams and setups. These services also often deal with secret rotation.

HashiCorp Vault – “Vault is a tool for securely accessing secrets. A secret is anything that you want to tightly control access to, such as API keys, passwords, certificates, and more. Vault provides a unified interface to any secret, while providing tight access control and recording a detailed audit log.”

You can deploy your own vault on your own infrastructure or test out a hosted version, which is free for Open Source projects. HashiCorp Vault

You will find a bunch of Hashicorp related packages that will help you to integrate a vault into your project workflow (scmrus/php-vault-env , poc-webapp-vault).

While this is nice, you will need to cache / store credentials somewhere, as you don’t want to query the vault on every single access.

The Hashicorp Vault is not the only Infrastructure Secret Management solution. There is a nice Github Gist that lists other solutions and a nice feature matrix.

Amazon also provides a solution called AWS Secrets Manager, which makes a lot of sense, when you build and deploy on AWS already :)

What a rabbit hole, once you start researching solutions :)
Have fun …

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Gatsby is a free and open source framework based on React that helps developers build blazing fast websites and apps.

What they have to say

  • Go Beyond Static Websites. Get all the benefits of static websites with none of the limitations. Gatsby sites are fully functional React apps so you can create high-quality, dynamic web apps, from blogs to e-commerce sites to user dashboards.
  • Use a Modern Stack for Every Site. No matter where the data comes from, Gatsby sites are built using React and GraphQL. Build a uniform workflow for you and your team, regardless of whether the data is coming from the same backend.
  • Load Data From Anywhere. Gatsby pulls in data from any data source, whether it’s Markdown files, a headless CMS like Contentful or WordPress, or a REST or GraphQL API. Use source plugins to load your data, then develop using Gatsby’s uniform GraphQL interface.
  • Performance Is Baked In. Ace your performance audits by default. Gatsby automates code splitting, image optimization, inlining critical styles, lazy-loading, and prefetching resources, and more to ensure your site is fast — no manual tuning required.
  • Host at Scale for Pennies. Gatsby sites don’t require servers so you can host your entire site on a CDN for a fraction of the cost of a server-rendered site. Many Gatsby sites can be hosted entirely free on services like GitHub Pages and Netlify.

What I have to say …

While researching some popular static site generation tools, GatsbyJS comes up often. I have played with NuxtJS and Hugo in the past, but what I REALLY like about GatsbyJS is the plugin / modular system. You can build your website with plain-old React and CSS styles, but make your development more efficient by adding node_modules.

Also being able to import any data source with ease, using GraphQL, is amazing. And when it comes to content management, you can easily hook a headless WordPress or Drupal setup into the mix and consume their REST APIs :)

I am not switching my own website to GatsbyJS anytime soon, but its another tool in my toolbox for future project consideration !

There are many tutorials on Youtube about getting started, maybe something to consider for the next freetime testdrive ;) Enjoy …

GatsbyJS @ Github

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Manet is a REST API server which allows capturing screenshots of websites using various parameters.

The Node.js server can use SlimerJS or PhantomJS as headless browser engines.

I have build similar with CasperJS, but this is far better for those that want a simple straight solution.

@GitHub

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GDPR / DSGVO REQUIREMENTS

The GDPR makes us jump through a lot of hoops to cleanup our websites and make all our code compliant. Many aspects of the GDPR are far from completely defined yet and there is a great uncertainty what is required, what can stay and what needs to be adjusted right now.

EMBED YOUTUBE VIDEOS

Embeding Youtube videos is one area,  that many are afraid of. You need to mention the use of youtube in your data privacy policy.

Something like that :”Our website uses plugins from YouTube, which is operated by Google. The operator of the pages is YouTube LLC, 901 Cherry Ave., San Bruno, CA 94066, USA.

If you visit one of our pages featuring a YouTube plugin, a connection to the YouTube servers is established. Here the YouTube server is informed about which of our pages you have visited.

If you’re logged in to your YouTube account, YouTube allows you to associate your browsing behavior directly with your personal profile. You can prevent this by logging out of your YouTube account.

YouTube is used to help make our website appealing. This constitutes a justified interest pursuant to Art. 6 (1) (f) DSGVO.

Further information about handling user data, can be found in the data protection declaration of YouTube under https://www.google.de/intl/de/policies/privacy.”

IS THAT ENOUGH

The question remains, if that is actually enough?
Youtube allows you to switch to a cookieless embed on their website, that limits the data flowing to Google servers.

THE IFRAME API

But how do you use that programmatically, with the Youtube iFrame API?

The iFrame API documentation has not been updated since 2014 and does not mention any option to switch to the cookieless youtube host.

But there is an easy option, just add the host option “https://www.youtube-nocookie.com” to your calls :

There we go, so simple and painless :)

The GDPR is a good thing, as it helps to secure our privacy. Those that are complaining now, are those that waited until the GDPR went live and did not take the time to really prepare soon enough.

BTW the email spam sent by so many services, was so not required, but helped me to clean up / delete those dormant accounts ;)

Enjoy coding!

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WordPress WooCommerce Appointments

WooCommerce Appointments is a commercial  booking plugin that allows you to setup appointments with WooCommerce. It has full integration into Google calendar to track appointments of your staff.

Staff availability can be set globally or via each staff members profile. While this is nice, I was looking for an option to actually handle availability via another Google Calendar as well. That was a must have feature for a current project.

What do you do, if that feature is not available yet ? You poke the code!

The magic entry point for the staff availability is the user meta “_wc_appointment_availability“, which is made available through includes/class-wc-product-appointment-staff.php.

A couple of weeks ago I asked support for a simple filter hook to alter the availability on demand from the outside.

The development team added the feature in one of the latest releases, making wc_appointments_staff_availability the entry point for my custom availability changes.

The filter hook

Getting the data

You can either pull Google Calendar Events directly through the Google Calendar API or use the available iCal export option. In this quick example I will use the private calendar iCal export file.

The availability calendar

Lets setup a quick clean calendar, called “Availability”. So simple and catchy :)

  1. Create a new calendar
  2. Create some test events. WooCommerce Appointments supports multiple availability rules, but I am focusing on the time:range option and recurring events for this example. I might be extending on this a bit more in the future ! So for this example:  Friday, timeframe 10:00 – 16:00 and repeating four times.
  3. Go into settings and get the link to the privat ical export file

Parse iCal data

For this example I am using the PHP ICS Parser, but any other parser will do.  Install it via composer: composer require johngrogg/ics-parser.

Lets create a quick little plugin to get us going and save it to /wp-content/plugins/CustomAvailability/smile.php

 

Set the availability

Its time to get the data into the system. I am only pulling and altering the availability for one single user in this example, the user with the USERID “3”. This should provide you with a good starting point.

The example pulls and parses the ics file on every load, use a transient or REDIS to store data and only refresh in certain intervals.

Hope this gets you started! I build a simple interface around it, with a lot of more rule options. This makes the setup for each staff member a brise. Now each of them can setup a calendar easily and provide  me with the ics link  :) WooCommerce Appointments rocks …

Enjoy coding ….

 

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There are many variations of these out there, SSilence/php-imap-client is a lib with a nice set of methods, clean integration and pretty good documentation.
Adding it to my goto essentials !

GitHub

Enjoy coding …

Default IMAP Search Criteria

 

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10. February 2018

Screen Scraping with Goutte

We all have been in situations were we need content or information from a connected website, but have no access to a REST Api or any other backend feed.

In these cases screen scraping is the only option to get needed information to finalize an integration. You can do that directly in CURL, but that can be tedious. Far easier to use a nicely packaged solution that combines a component that simulates web browser behavior and a component that eases DOM navigation for HTML and XML documents. Meet Goutte!

STEP 0

Install via composer.

 

STEP 1

Login into a website and navigate to the page that has your needed information

 

STEP 2

Get the data you need.

Goutte @ Github
BrowserKit Documentation
DOM Crawler Documentation

Enjoy coding …

 

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An icon font to use with the Google Maps API and Google Places API, using SVG markers and icon labels.

Map Icons makes Google Maps Markers dynamic with control over shape, color, size, and icon easily changed using options in the marker object as well as simple SVG Notation and CSS.

GitHub / Preview

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I have been working on a project , that relies on text-to-speech cloud services for a lot of things.

Audiomanager abstracts access to  popular text-to-speech cloud services like GoogleIvonaAmazon Polly… Really a timesaver, when evaluating different  services.

Polly Example

GitHub

Enjoy coding ….

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When using your main content feed to share posts via buffer or other services, it is crucial that your feed validates cleanly.

[Valid RSS]

There are always things in the generated WordPress content that can break your feed validation. Here some things to cleanup or alter your delivered feed content.

CONDITIONAL TAGS

is_feed()
Check for syndication request. This tag is not typically used by users; it is used internally by WordPress and is available for Plugin Developers.

Check for feed syndication in your themes functions.php

REMOVE IFRAMES

REMOVE / DISABLE COMMENTS

REMOVE RESPONSIVE IMAGES

The sizes attribute breaks feed validation, here how to clean it up.

INCLUDE PAGES IN POST FEED

ADJUST AMOUNT OF POSTS

LIMIT BY CATEGORY

 

Enjoy coding …

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