Remote Web Development

This page aims to be a resource for Purdue web developers working on their ITaP-hosted sites while away from campus in addition to the main ITaP Working Remotely FAQ. It breaks down what you will need to edit, publish, test, and deploy your sites remotely, as well as troubleshooting tips for when you run into problems as a result of being off campus. Follow the links below to find more information. If you run into a situation that isn’t covered here, please contact us with details so we can improve this page.

Table of Contents


I have access to my office workstation via Remote Desktop

If you have remote access to your office workstation using Remote Desktop, Screen Sharing, or a similar tool, then you can edit your websites just as you normally would through that remote connection, using the tools you already know.

You will need:

  • Remote access must have been set up on your office workstation before you left campus. If this is not the case, contact your desktop support team for help, or skip to the direct editing options shown below. ITaP indicates that most CSDS-supported computers should have this enabled already.
  • The Purdue VPN must first be set up and connected.
  • You’ll need an appropriate remote desktop client installed. Contact your desktop support  team for help selecting and installing an appropriate client.
  • You’ll need to know the host name or IP address of your office workstation. Contact your desktop support team if you don’t have this information already.

Once you have all of that:

  1. Connect to the Purdue VPN.
  2. Launch your Remote Desktop client.
  3. Connect your Remote Desktop client to your office workstation’s host name or IP address. This process is different for each client, so follow the built-in help or contact your desktop support team for more details.
  4. Log in as you normally would to your office workstation, which you’ll be able to see and control remotely as if you were sitting in front of it.
  5. Edit your website as you would normally in your office, using the tools installed on your office workstation remotely. Performance may be slower than normal, depending on your Internet speed.

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I don’t have Remote Desktop access or want to edit my site directly using the device I have with me. I normally edit my ITaP-hosted web site using…

Cascade

You will need:

  • An up-to-date web browser, like Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Edge. Phone and tablet versions of those browsers may not work correctly.
  • The Purdue VPN set up and connected in order to use the Deploy Tool, if your site uses the Deploy Tool to promote content from Development to QA and Production after publishing (most do). You’ll also need to be connected to the VPN to view your Development and QA site(s) in many cases.
  • An SFTP client installed and configured if you know that your site uses .htgroup files for directory security (uncommon). Otherwise, this isn’t needed. SFTP also requires the VPN to be connected.

With all of that, you should be able to follow your normal procedures for updating your site.

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WordPress

You will need:

  • An up-to-date web browser, like Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Edge. Other Chromium-based web browsers (like Opera) should work too. Both desktop and mobile browsers will work, but you may have fewer features available on a mobile browser.
  • The Purdue VPN set up and connected so that you can:
    • View and log into your Development and QA sites
    • Update or create pages and posts. If you’re not connected to the VPN and use anything but the Classic Editor plugin for editing, you will get an error message when publishing/updating pages and posts that reads “Updating failed. The response is not a valid JSON response.”
    • Make changes to your child theme files via SFTP
    • Install new or updated themes and plugins
    • Deploy changes to QA and Production using the Deploy Tool
    • Reverse-Deploy content to QA or Development for testing using the Deploy Tool
  • An SFTP client, if you need to edit theme or plugin files directly on the Development server or manually install/update plugins and themes

With all of that, you should be able to follow your normal procedures for updating your site.

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Web Design Application

Using a web design application such as Dreamweaver or Contribute remotely is easiest if you can use the remote access method described above instead, or if the device you have with you is your normal workstation and has all the software you need installed.

You will need:

  • The web design application you normally use installed on your local device OR available through GoRemote.
  • The Purdue VPN set up and connected in order to publish and deploy changes as well as access department file shares where you likely have your source files. You’ll also need to be connected to the VPN to view your Development and QA site(s) in many cases.
  • If your site’s source files are stored on a network file share, you’ll need to have that available to the machine running your web design application. If you need help setting this up, please contact your desktop support team.
  • The web browsers you normally test against so you can test your site as you make, publish, and deploy changes.

With all of that, you should be able to follow your normal procedures for updating your site. It may take more time than usual to perform some actions.

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Programming Environment

Using a web application programming environment such as Visual Studio remotely is easiest if you can use the remote access method described above instead, or if the device you have with you is your normal workstation and has all the software you need installed.

You will need:

  • The web application programming environment, such as Visual Studio, that you normally use installed on your local device OR available through GoRemote.
  • Any version control tools, such as git, and any testing or debugging tools that you normally use need to be available from the same device running the programming environment. This may not be possible on GoRemote if the version control isn’t built in to the programming environment.
  • The Purdue VPN set up and connected in order to publish and deploy changes as well as access department file shares where you likely have your source files. You’ll also need to be connected to the VPN to view your Development and QA site(s) in many cases.
  • If your site’s source files are stored on a network file share, you’ll need to have that available to the machine running your web design application. If you need help setting this up, please contact your desktop support team.
  • The web browsers you normally test against so you can test your site as you make, publish, and deploy changes.

With all of that, you should be able to follow your normal procedures for updating your site. It may take more time than usual to perform some actions.

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Manually

You will need:

  • The tools you normally use, or reasonable substitutes for them, need to be installed on your local computer. For example, if you use Visual Studio Code normally, you should either install that or a compatible editor on your local computer, if that’s not already installed. The same goes for any support tools, like an SFTP client, SSH client, git client, etc.
  • The Purdue VPN set up and connected in order to publish and deploy changes as well as access department file shares where you likely have your source files. You’ll also need to be connected to the VPN to view your Development and QA site(s) in many cases.
  • If your site’s source files are stored on a network file share, you’ll need to have that available to the machine running your web design application. If you need help setting this up, please contact your desktop support team.
  • The web browsers you normally test against so you can test your site as you make, publish, and deploy changes.

With all of that, you should be able to follow something close to your normal procedures for updating your site. It may take more time than usual to perform some actions.

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Testing and Troubleshooting

If something isn’t working while offsite, there are a few common issues to check before contacting the ITaP Customer Service Center, your departments desktop support for help, or ITaP Web Services for help.

  • Make sure your VPN is (still) connected! Most problems you’ll run into while working remotely are caused by not being connected to the VPN.
    • You can always test your VPN connection by visiting the Deploy Tool, https://deploy.itap.purdue.edu. If you see a “Get Started” button, you’re good to go! If you see a stop sign, check your VPN configuration or re-connect.
    • The VPN will automatically disconnect in certain situations. For example, if your Internet connection is interrupted, if your computer goes to sleep, or if you aren’t using your computer for a (very) long time, the VPN will disconnect. It’s best practice to disconnect from the VPN at the end of the workday, then re-connect in the morning.
  • Are you using the Zone-network-admin-offcampus (or similar “offcampus”) profile in AnyConnect? Make sure you’ve got the ITaP Proxy configured (Purdue login required), or you won’t be able to get to some websites.
    • This varies by operating system, but if you open your computer or tablet’s Settings or System Preferences app and search for “Proxy”, you should find it.
    • You’ll need to manually configure the proxy server “proxy.itap.purdue.edu” and set it to use port 3128.
    • This ONLY applies to the “zone offcampus” profiles. Most VPN connections don’t need the Proxy.
    • Please contact the ITaP Customer Service Center if you’re having problems getting this set up.
    • Don’t forget to turn off the Proxy when you disconnect from the VPN, or you won’t be able to get to any websites!
  • If you see 0 files for deployment, check that you’ve successfully published. Note that Cascade publishes are queued and not instantaneous. You will see the changes you made appear on your Development website (usually https://dev.<your Production URL>) once the publish is complete and successful.
  • Depending on where your site is published, there may be specific frequently asked questions and troubleshooting help for that environment:

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More Info and Links

How to Get Help from ITaP

How to Get Help from ITaP Web Services for Web Hosting Issues

Help with Cascade

ITaP Resources for Working Online – General FAQ about working remotely

Coronavirus Updates from Purdue – University news and information about the novel coronavirus

Purdue OneCampus Portal – Helpful links to University services

Purdue WebEx Portal – Primary videoconferencing service for Purdue users

Outlook Web Access – Remote access to Purdue email and other Office 365 services

Microsoft Teams Portal – Web-based access to Microsoft Teams (includes client downloads)

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