Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

Other Website Tools

Here are a few pieces of open-source software that would fall into the category of website accessories. The list initially was a short one but is growing into a very eclectic collection. More will be added as they come my way.


JavaScript may be an interpreted language, but the concept has been applied here too. More correctly, Babel is a JavaScript code builder that takes code written in its utility language and expands it into standard verbose JavaScript that is easier to read and maintain than if a utility library has been used.


All of these are tools you can use to set up a web forum. Discourse tends to hide away its wares from anyone who fancies downloading it for a look and that cannot be said about the others. Of the rest, phpBB is a standalone option while bbPress is built on WordPress.


This is a Node.js tool that supports simultaneous cross-browser testing, making the process easier and faster.


This is a JavaScript CSS pre-processor that adds functionality to CSS that would not in place with the base language.


While I have started to evaluate Open Web Analytics, this has been my main self-hosted website traffic analyser. Using Google Analytics and Woopra is all very fine but they are implemented using JavaScript scripts hosted on other parts of the web and that can slow down page loading as well as giving blockers of JavaScript something else to do.

Matomo works well and has an attractive interface but it can be sluggish to load, so much so that I have set it to load its work data in the database instead of the web server file system. For those wanting to stick with older versions for the sake of speed and/or reliability, there even is a repository of these.

Open Web Analytics

While I mainly use Matomo, this is another website traffic analysis tool. What caused me to look at it once I saw a mention in Linux Magazine is the sluggishness of Matomo. The interface may not be as swish but it does load faster so I will keep it under evaluation. It, too, is self-hosted, so there is no need to have JavaScript or PHP enabled connections to other web services.


The point of this tool is to manage advertising. While that means that I may never get to use it, that’s never to say that there aren’t others who might.


There may be a myriad of file storage providers on the web, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for a self-hosted alternative of your own. After all, some providers may not be as robust as you’d like them to be so it’s always good to feel that a little more control can come your way. That is where ownCloud comes in and it is not dissimilar to other web applications with its dependence on PHP, MySQL and so on. DIY approaches are not dead and gone just yet.

Pattern Lab

This not a UI framework but is a set of tools for building up sets of reusable components and templates. There is a chemical/biological metaphor for template components and the tools are installable on development systems. The approach is an interesting one.


There are times when I have wished to override whatever post-processing has been added to CSS on me to a JavaScript tool like PostCSS looks interesting to me.

Essentially, this is an open-source counterpart to what powers Twitter that you can run yourself on your own system. Whether shared website hosting can support how it works remains to be seen but you can try it out for yourself at


This is an open-source file sharing and synchronisation platform that offers a self-hosted counterpart to the likes of Dropbox, Google Drive and others. With all the discussion about privacy and the eavesdropping revelations of the last few years, this is a pertinent tool in this age of cloud computing.


This is an open-source webmail platform that runs on a web server like many other web applications. It could have its uses for small enterprises.


Another tool that extends CSS makes management of CSS easier than if you were coding stylesheets by hand.


A PHP library for re-using RSS feeds in web content.

Tiny Tiny RSS

This is a self-hosted analogue to the now doomed Google Reader. There may be other options in the cloud like Netvibes, but there is some additional security in having an option almost entirely under your own control.


This is a more general Linux and UNIX server administration tool, but web platforms see service too so it gets added to this list. It, too, runs on a web server instance itself and there are a number of modules for things such as cloud computing and virtualisation.

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