Joomla Staging Site Creation

 
It has always been a pet peeve of mine that it seemed to be very difficult, possibly dangerous and generally obscure as to whether it was possible to create a staging site for testing a new Joomla installation.
 
There is one Joomla extension that addresses this issue, but seems geared more to being a temporary testing site for updates.
 
I wanted the following features:
  • Make a fully functional Joomla website without hassling with DNS records or adding a new domain;
  • Make the staging site easy to access, yet obscure it from casual or accidental observation;
  • Give me the ability to test new-to-me concepts and extensions over a period of weeks or months;
  • Give me the ability to move a site developed on my office Joomla installation to a staging site;
  • Give clients the ability to easily connect and approve or reject features;
  • Go live with the development site without that itself becoming a major project;
  • Keep any existing website working without disruption;
  • Test and debug moving from one major Joomla version to another;
  • Make the entire process predictable and easy.

My hosting company is Rochen, which provides CPanel to administer the back-end of each site.  As long as you have CPanel available at your host, and under CPanel you can create a subdomain and they make the program Softaculous Apps Installer available there, this procedure should work and check off every one of the above bullet points.

The best YouTube tutorial in a step-by-step, which works with Rochen, is on the link below. I encourage you to watch it to familiarize yourself with some basics, although the specific problem referred to in the video may not apply to you.

 
First, as always, make a backup of your live site and move that backup off the host to a safe place.
 
Assuming you have a live site named "http://www.yoursite.com" you'll use CPanel to create a subdomain, such as dev.yoursite.com as an example.  You're not required to use 'dev', this just an example.
 
Then you'll use the Softaculous Apps Installer in CPanel to create a new Joomla installation in that directory. You may need to first add your own (www) live site to the Softaculous management panel, which is safe to do.
 
When you then create your staging site, in the Choose Domain prompt for Softaculous select dev.yoursite.org
 
This site will reside in the top-level domain file system, not under the public_html directory.  Softaculous will manage the downloading and installation of the version of Joomla that you select, and the creation of the SQL database. The prompts are the same prompts you see when you install Joomla on any system.
 
The correct addresses for front and back end access will be shown when the site is created and may be retrieved in the Softaculous management panel in the Edit Installation Details window at any time. You can provide the public staging url to anybody you wish to see the developing site in action.
 
If you've been developing a site on another system already you can use Akeeba Kickstarter to move that to the staging site. However, get all of your facts organized and don't allow yourself to be distracted. As you install a Joomla site under Softaculous make sure you record the database name, prefix, user name and password. Make sure you also have that information for the live site, and don't get the two confused. When you run the ANGIE program during the Akeeba Kickstarter procedure, you will overwrite the empty site and SQL database you created with Softaculous. You don't want to clobber your live database when you restore that backup.
 
To summarize, if you've been playing with a Joomla 4.1 system on your office computer, you can make a backup with Akeeba, create a new 4.1 staging website with Softaculous, and follow the well-documented procedure that Akeeba provides to restore and overwrite that backup over the Softaculous staging site.
 
Just be deliberate and careful, and have that live site backup before you start!
 
Softaculous will let you move the dev site to live, after development is completely tested.
 
 

You need a well-oiled accounting system.

 

This is a great article explaining why every new and growing business needs to pay attention to their accounting system now. 

 

Article on a business accounting system

 

 

Downloading a file from Microsoft Update Catalog

I was stuck on this for quite a while, trying to directly download and install an out-of-band update to fix a problem that Microsoft caused with another  update. Specifically this is in regard to KB50000802 (or 802), which was fixed with KB5001567.  But try as I might, I couldn't find the correct technique to get this file to download.

Then it hit me: This is freaking Microsoft so they've undoubtedly done something they didn't document and is just slightly squirrelly. It occurred to me to try the download with Internet Explorer instead of Chrome. No, that didn't work either. But when I tried it using Microsoft Edge the download fired up and I was able to get the file into the Downloads folder and launch it.

Obviously they did something with ActiveX or .Net, and it's probably documented somewhere. But if downloading an *.msu file doesn't work, try it with Edge.

Then simply launch the file by double-clicking on it. Good luck.

 

 

I have helped several clients implement Positive Pay reporting on their system. It is normally a situation of shooting in the dark, guess-work and trial-and-error that is, without exception, unnecessary. These problems are caused by a severe lack of communication skills from most banks.

Positive Pay, for the uninitiated, works like this: Your business prints checks (or uses ACH direct deposit or funds transfers) to pay bills. The Accounts Payable program generates a small text file that is uploaded to the bank with a list of valid checks that are to be honored. If a check is presented to be paid and it isn’t on the list the bank refuses to honor it and sends it back.

This is all to prevent fraud and it works. I have clients who, before implementing PP, had fraud attempts that were usually in the tens of thousands of dollars. Sometimes they were detected and stopped, but not always. Positive Pay stops it cold.

Passport Software response to COVID-19

A lot of companies have issued generic policy statements about the Corona Virus.

Passport Software is taking action.  This is the statement from John Miller, the company president. I'm all in. If you can help out here, call or email me on the contact page.

I have just offered to provide our manufacturing solution at no charge to any company trying to set up operations to contribute to the war against COVID-19.

 

 This is a link to a brief Youtube video.

COVID-19 Offer