WebFaction helpers: HTTPS and www

I like WebFaction, and have been using them for years now, but I’m the first to admit they’re a bit less… friendly… in some regards than many hosts.

I referenced a few of these unfriendly matters back when I mentioned switching to them, with an offhand "so I solved that". But I’ve decided to go into a little more detail now on one of these issues — common site redirections. Specifically, adding / removing www from your URL, and enforcing HTTPS on a domain.

Other simple hosts I’ve used have just had a checkbox for these features in your settings. For WebFaction, however, you need to write your own mini-application to handle it. When I say "mini", I mean it — all you need is the bare minimum of an app configured enough that it’ll interpret an .htaccess file.

I’ll assume from here that you’re familiar with the general WebFaction terminology, and the distinction between "application", "domain", and "website".

Remove www

Make a new application with type "Static" and subtype "Static/CGI/PHP-7.2".

Name the application redirect_www.

SSH in, and in the application directory create a file called .htaccess with the contents:

This is more complicated than it strictly has to be, because it checks and remembers whether the site is on HTTP/S without you needing to explicitly configure it or make multiple versions of the application. I wanted something generic, because I have a bunch of different websites hosted.

An "add www" application is a fairly simple modification to this.

Assign it to a new website, with the domain www.whatever-your-domain-is.com.

Enforce HTTPS

Make a new application with type "Static" and subtype "Static/CGI/PHP-7.2".

Name the application redirect_https.

SSH in, and in the application directory create a file called .htaccess with the contents:

This will redirect so long as HTTPS isn’t already enabled, ignoring the .well-known subdirectory which is required to not be redirected for things like letsencrypt certificate renewal.

Assign this application to a non-secure website with the same domain as a secure website you’re hosting.

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