Jumping to the Other End

This post is third in a series, beginning with Automating Web Site Updates.

Readers are going to use web browsers to look at content, so we need some kind of web server to deliver the final formatted web pages. It’s static content, so there are lots of choices:

  1. A virtual machine running web server software like Apache or NGINX
  2. A web hosting service
  3. Cloud storage set for public access
  4. Serverless platforms

Option 1 is right out. I do not want to configure, manage, patch, and monitor a server. The second option might be okay, but most of them aren’t amenable to full automation. The third choice could be okay, but the cloud storage I’d prefer to use (Google Cloud Storage) doesn’t offer the ability to use HTTPS on a custom domain. That leaves a serverless solution.

Which serverless solution? I’m going to stick with Google Cloud Platform, but other cloud providers offer many similar services. GCP’s serverless offerings include Cloud Functions, Cloud Run, App Engine, and Firebase. I’d have to write code to respond to web requests for Cloud Functions or Cloud Run, so they’re out. Both App Engine and Firebase can serve static web pages without my writing any code, so they’re still looking good.

We want static web page hosting, via HTTPS, on a custom domain, and we want it cheap. We’d rather have it free (hey, is there an option to have them pay us?). Well, both App Engine and Firebase Hosting have free tiers available. So how to choose? I’ve used them both and they’d both work for this. We have to pick one, and I found Firebase Hosting to be easy, scalable, and affordable.

The solution will use Firebase Hosting for the last step.

We will need to build a static copy of the desired website, and use Firebase tools to deploy it to the service. Other than that, we don’t need to do anything to have the pages served in a scalable and reliable manner.

The picture is beginning to be filled in:

Contributors to GitHub to ? to Firebase Hosting to Readers

The unknown center is shrinking. Next time we will jump back to the other side of that unknown and expand on what we need GitHub to do.

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