Post-mortem of my tiny JS web app "Archives"

Some takeaways from the development of


When I ended up on the portfolio of my old colleague Ilk, I thought I should save screenshots of my previous projects. And I liked so much the way AREA 17 was hosting theirs archives I decided to simply steal it.

Besides the nostalgic trip through my old projects, thanks again, I wanted to make the smallest JavaScript app possible.


  • Node.js still doesn’t support ECMAScript Modules,
    The —-experimental-modules flag can be used to enable the feature, but only with .mjs files.
    ECMAScript Modules | Node.js v11.11.0 Documentation
    nodemon can also be used with it.

  • Building an HTTP server with Node.js is so simple thanks to the http core module. No need of Express, even if it covers more cases, without any doubts.
    For example, I had troubles with the Content-Type of my responses, I had to specify it, surely because of the configuration of my Debian machine.
    I first did it manually but then used serve-static module for the static files.

  • I tried to make it as simple as possible, so the projects' name were automatically drawn from the directories’ name. A few obscure encoding issues with my server later, I had to introduce weird helpers functions to resolve them. But still no need to edit a config file or a JS object to add or update a project. 🙌
    But for any bigger website, it’s criminal to rely on the folders’ name.


  • To bundle my app in a smaller package, I chose to try Rollup, which is the main solution to build Node.js packages. You can easily change the settings to build an app to be used for a browser instead of Node.js.
    I wanted to avoid webpack to try something simpler and smaller.

  • Final touch : adding analytics tracking. With nothing better than Google Analytics suiting my needs, I added the package universal-analytics.
    Issue : the rollup build is not compatible with the package’s code.
    I had to exclude it from the build with

external: [‘universal-analytics’]

in rollup.config.js and copy it to the production server. Not nice.

I should look at Fathom and Matomo to replace Google Analytics in the future, this will ask more work or money.


  • I wanted to try Heroku for a long time and gave them a shot. The whole experience is good and the integration of GitHub pretty, but I somehow missed the important downside of this free offer: each app goes to sleep (idle) after 30 min if not used.
    And the problem is the load of a page will suddenly take around 30 seconds. So, no good, for my tiny, confidential app.
    Back to my personal hosting.

  • I fumbled to find a working configuration for the apache virtual host :

<VirtualHost *:80>
  ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log

  DocumentRoot /path/to/archives

  ProxyPreserveHost On

  ProxyPass /

Thanks for reading, I hope those bits could help other web tinkerers.