Friday, April 29, 2016

Heroku and Wordpress: Afterthoughts

The last two postings were about my successful and happy migration of my personal Wordpress site from my home PC to Heroku. It went beautifully, but a little testing and a few days revealed some improvements. One could call these Pitfalls and Gotchas about Heroku, lessons for my next app.



Database Usage / Wordpress Revisions


My MySQL dump file was 2.3 MB, fitting quite well under the 5 MB mark. Wrong. After being loaded, it bloated to about 4.1 MB and I got a warning email from Heroku that I was nearing my capacity.

First off, thank you Heroku and ClearDB. Nice job on the notification before this became a problem.

Second, what's using my disk space? I did some queries (thank you, Stackoverflow) and found that wp_posts had 450 rows... for my 35 pages. Ah yes: Page Revisions. Wordpress keeps copies of every time I've clicked Update, so there are hundreds of extra pages in there.

I trawled the net a little bit for two pieces of advice that set this right:
  • Disabling revisions (or limiting them to 1 or 2 revisions, if you prefer), with a wp-config.php modification. Easy.
  • A plugin to clean out old revisions. I then uninstalled it since disabling revisions means there won't be more to clean up.
Now my table was down to 150 posts, which is right for 30ish pages and 120ish images. My dump file was under half the previous size.

To finish the job, I had to take a dump of the table and then reload it, so as to drop and recreate the table. (databases do that, keep the space for the future; it's normally a good idea, but not here and today) And now I'm down to 1.6 MB, one third of my free tier.

Sending Email


Heroku doesn't have a sendmail setup, not even sure they have a SMTP service. So Wordpress's email capabilities were not working.

Your basic options here are:
  • Sign up for SendGrid, since Heroku has an addon for that. They have a free tier of 12,000 messages per month, which is really more than my blog could ever generate.
  • Supply your own SMTP server.

I went for the latter since I use GMail and can definitely navigate the steps of a Project, the API keys, and the GMail SMTP plugin for Wordpress. The plugin's own instructions were somewhat outdated, but that wasn't a problem. And voila, Wordpress sending email.

For your own programming, you would want to use PHPMailer or some such so you can specify your SMTP settings. A lot of things presume that there's a local sendmail or local SMTP, but not here.



So yeah, that was it. Not too awful in the "gotchas" department. Not at all! I am suitably impressed with Heroku at virtually every level: price, performance, ease of deployment once you wrap your head around it, and notifications.


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