Since last month I’ve been working hard on getting a few features out the door. They are:
- All new files are now hosted on S3 – Part of the work to make Kernl highly available is to get files hosted elsewhere. When you upload a new version to Kernl, or push a change via webhooks, the deliverable now lives on S3. Existing versions were a bit complicated, so thats going to be a task for May.
- SSL and domain renewed – The SSL cert and domain for Kernl were renewed this month. This should have been a completely transparent change.
- Editable version fields – For plugins, you can now edit a few fields on a version once it has been created. This was a pre-requisite for getting changelogs implemented nicely.
- Plugin changelog API – You can now programmatically add, get, and remove changelog entries from you plugins. Documentation on this feature is available at https://kernl.us/documentation/api#changelog-api and full examples are available at https://github.com/vital101/Kernl-API-Examples
- Plugin changelog tab – The changelog tab in the plugin detail update window is now populated automatically and looks like the wordpress.org version.
So whats on backlog for May?
- Moving the legacy version files to S3.
- Moving the database to its own server + adding a replica.
- Moving Memcache to its own server.
Over the past 4 months we’ve been making a lot of progress on many different fronts with Kernl. After 4 new features, 5 feature updates, 3 infrastructure changes, and numerous bug fixes, Kernl is better than ever. Check out the detailed info below, and leave a comment or reach out if you have questions.
- Purchase Code API – A long requested feature has been the ability to add and remove purchase codes from Kernl via an API. This has always been supported, but there wasn’t any documentation or examples of how to do it. We now have detailed documentation for the Purchase Code API available at https://kernl.us/documentation/api.
- WebHook Build Log – For customers using BitBucket and GitHub integration, it could be frustrating to figure why your build failed. To help with that, we added a WebHook Build Log on the continuous integration page. It can be found at https://kernl.us/app/#/dashboard/continuous-integration
- Envato Purchase Code Validation – Another often requested feature was the ability to validate against Envato purchase codes. You can read about how to use and enable this functionality at https://kernl.us/documentation#envato-purchase-code-validation.
- Caching – Since the beginning of the year, Kernl’s traffic has more than doubled and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. To keep response times and server load down, update check results are now cached for 10 seconds. What this means for you is that after you upload a new version or make any changes in the ‘edit’ modal, Kernl will take a maximum of 10 seconds to reflect those changes on the update check API endpoints.
- PHP Update Check File Timeout – In the plugin_update_check.php and theme_update_check.php files that you include in your plugin and themes, the timeout value for fetching data from Kernl is set really high by default (10 seconds). If you want the update to fail fast in the event that Kernl is down, you can now configure this value using the remoteGetTimeout property. Depending on how close your client’s server are to Kernl and how fast Kernl responds, you could likely lower this value significantly. You should exercise caution using this though. The documentation has been updated here and here to reflect the change. You will also need to publish a new build with the updated PHP files.
- Email Notification Settings – You can now enable/disable email notifications from Kernl. There are two types: General and Build. General email notifications are all emails Kernl sends to you that aren’t build emails. Build notifications are the emails you receive when a webhook event from BitBucket or GitHub triggers a build. You can modify these settings in your profile.
- Failed Build Email Notifications – You will now receive an email notification when your BitBucket/GitHub webhook push fails to build in an unexpected way. For instance if the version number in your kernl.version file doesn’t follow semantic versioning, the build would fail and send you an email notification.
- Indeterminate Spinner for Version Uploads – Depending on the size of your deliverable and the speed of your connection, the Kernl interface didn’t give a lot of great feedback when you were uploading a file. An indeterminate spinner now shows while your file is being uploaded. Copy has also been updated to reflect that this action can take a little while.
- Filterable Select on Repository Select Drop Downs – When trying to select a repository for continuous integration, it could be a real pain if you had lots of repositories. A filterable select field is now in place that allows you to search large lists easily.
- Capacity Increases – In mid March we had about 4 minutes of downtime in the wee hours of the morning while we upgraded our server capacity. Current capacity should hold until we double or triple our traffic levels.
- Mandrill to SendGrid Migration – Since the beginning of Kernl we used Mandrill as our transactional email provider. As I’m sure some of you know, Mandrill sort of screwed it’s customers by making their free low-volume plan cost $30 per month. Since this isn’t really something we wanted (or needed) to pay for, we migrated to SendGrid.
- Apache to Nginx Migration – As our traffic numbers started to rise, Apache started to fall over on us. A migration to Nginx as our reverse-proxy was high in the backlog, so instead of tweaking Apache we just did a quick migration to Nginx. With the default configuration, load levels dropped from 1 – 1.5 to 0.3 – 07 with no configuration tweaking. *high five nginx*
- Multi-tier Server Architecture – Kernl started out as a fun side project. As a side project, keeping things simple as long as possible is almost always the right choice. Now that Kernl has a growing number of paying customers, and those customers have lots of paying customers, it’s time for Kernl’s server architecture to grow as well. Over the next month or two, we’ll be teasing apart Kernl’s current infrastructure to support horizontal scaling and automatic failover in case any node in the stack goes down.
- Better Change Log Support – The current change log support on Kernl is… meh, at best. A big goal for the next month or two is try and get better change log support out the door.
- Analytics – Having some insights into your clients has always been a goal of Kernl. Doing this efficiently and cost effectively is tough, but we’re 60% there already. Infrastructure work has a higher priority than this right now, but getting this out the door in the next few months is a priority.
- Bug Fixes – As always, bug fixes come first.
When you log in to Kernl, near the top you see a few boxes with general stats in them. The ‘update pings’ stat is going to be off for awhile until the new analytics work is complete. This is due to the naive way that we currently calculate update pings not being compatible with how we cache. The ‘update downloads’ stat is still accurate since we do not cache the download endpoints.