SiteDash update: new features and 1.0 launching soon

Last September, we quietly launched SiteDash in public alpha. SiteDash is a tool designed to help agency and freelancers stay in control of their MODX sites. SiteDash monitors your MODX sites, checking them multiple times per day to ensure they’re up to date and secure. If SiteDash detects an issue, you’ll get an alert so that you can quickly fix the problem.

We launched with a basic feature set. Rather than trying to build everything at once, we focused on a few simple features and have been evolving it ever since based on the feedback we received.

Since then, we’ve had over 80 users sign up who have added more than 550 sites to the system.

We’ve been steadily improving and expanding what SiteDash can do. In this update, we’d like to get you up to speed on the new things we’ve recently added to SiteDash.

Error log analysis

We’ve recently added the ability to quickly analyze error logs, which came about after trying to figure out if a 25mb error log contained anything useful. With just two clicks in the dashboard, SiteDash will download and parse the error log and display the unique messages. It sorts by severity (error/warning/info) and the number of times the message was logged, so you can quickly find the most important information.

We plan on improving this further. For example, we’d like to build a database of common error messages and show you how to debug and resolve these issues once SiteDash discovers them on your site.

Database health checks

SiteDash now also checks that your sessions table is working correctly. The sessions table is one of the tables in MODX that is known to crash occasionally, so including it in the 6-hourly refresh gives us a chance to notify you about any login problems so that you can fix it before anyone notices (hopefully!).

We also added an action to the dashboard to check the health of your entire database. This does two things: check for any crashed tables and inspects the collation of every table and column to ensure they are the same. SiteDash can also also repair crashed tables for you.

Site activity log

Each site in SiteDash now has an activity log, which adds things such as PHP versions, installed packages, alerts and sudo user changes to a timeline. This gives you an interesting view of the site over time.

Under the hood & infrastructure improvements

Since the launch we added a new task worker system that allows processing to happen in separate worker processes, while still presenting feedback to you in realtime. This system allows us to scale workers separately, which is going to be important as we add more powerful tasks that take more time and resources to process. Right now there are between 2 and 4 workers active at any given time. We also built custom logging and reporting so we can see how well things are behaving.

GDPR changes

As GDPR came into effect, we’ve also been working on some changes to ensure SiteDash is GDPR compliant. We've improved the way we store secure keys and updated the terms and privacy policy to clarify what data SiteDash collects, and what we do with that data.

Over the coming weeks and months we’ll continue implementing more privacy features, including limiting what information about your sites the modmore team can see and investigating if encrypting more data is feasible. There are also granular notification preferences planned, allowing to you select exactly what emails you would like to receive.

SiteDash 1.0 is launching soon

One of the final features for SiteDash v1.0 is the billing system. We’ve finished implementing payments (credit card and direct debit) and all registered users are now on their one-month free trial. To continue using SiteDash, you’ll need to choose a plan and provide payment details by July 30.

About the author

Marc Jenkins is a frontend developer from Birmingham, England. Often found writing or enjoying a dram of whisky, occasionally at the same time.