Courant News: Maintenance Mode

Today’s brief post will cover Courant’s maintenance mode. This mode allows authorized staff to view and perform work on the site while the rest of the world sees a simple message informing them that the site is currently unavailable. There are a number of uses for such a feature, which I will describe briefly.

Maintenance mode can be useful when upgrading the software that the site runs on, such as a database or webserver, or the code for Courant or the site itself. In these cases, you’d rather the site visitors be presented with an informative message than a potentially broken or unresponsive site. It could also be used when testing or implementing new templates, although ideally that would happen on a separate staging server first.

Maintenance mode is engaged by a simple toggle setting in the admin interface. By default, it uses the same template as the 500 server response page, which gets shown when something is broken and the server cannot fulfill the page request. In this manner, when something on your server breaks, users get presented with a nice little message instead of seeing the blood and guts of your server spilling out onto their pages. This is especially handy when you get huge traffic spikes that your server cannot handle. For example, the YDN site currently uses a page that looks like this:

Maintenance mode is a pretty simple feature, but it’s worth its weight in gold when the need arises. For those people using other CMSes, similar functionality can be found in WordPress and Drupal, among others.

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