No More Scary Server Error Pages Please

Have you ever seen a scary stark white webpage with plain text that says there was some error? We’ve all seen those ugly server error pages that come bundled with most web server software. Server errors happen, it’s a fact of life, but why don’t Sys Admins make nicer looking one’s or better yet, why doesn’t Apache or Nginx come with better looking pages bundled in by default? I have a couple practical theories…

  • Sys Admins, or that guy who setup your server isn’t a designer, he reads the command line all day so he really isn’t worried about how the error pages look.
  • It’s a little awkward or not super simple to just slap a new HTML webpage in place for a server error page, there are lots of considerations that make these pages different than standard webpages like directory structures, image hosting, etc.

So I got a spark of energy the other day to make some new Error Pages for our Infra team so we don’t have these ugly pages on our servers at Pronto. One challenge I had for these pages is that they needed to be brand and domain agnostic, as in they had to work on any domain, but I wanted to show some domain specific information to the visitor to give them some pertinent content in an attempt to make the error page less scary. The pages also had to be imageless and all CSS had to be inline so anybody working on a server to implement one of these HTML pages to replace the default bundled page could do it relatively easily without thinking too hard.

Oh yeah, they’re responsive too, I made them with Bootstrap 3. 🙂

Here’s what I came up with, you can download all of them from github  – Server Error Pages.

Error Pages Demos


So, these are you Infra guys, let’s make the web a little less scary when all hell breaks loose and your server is down. 😉

Reaction to CloudFlare = Thoroughly Impressed

It’s not often that I am completely impressed by something, I tend to be a tough critic. Even if I don’t know much about something (a service, a product, etc), if I want to I can usually find a way to find something that should be better or done different. I’m just not impressed easily, what can I say?

Recently, at work a vendor of mine started talking to me about CloudFlare and how great it was. He actually didn’t know that I knew the company and had used it before, I was pretty so-so at the time. Anyways, following his lead a bit, I started checking them out more. I kept digging in a little deeper, and the deeper I dug the more I was impressed with their offering. The list of awesome things they provide for free is just impressive.

  • Fastest Free DNS, almost the Fastest Period – They offer the fastest Free DNS service there is, the setup process is a breeze with the automatic import, and the UI isn’t so bad either. 
  • Free CDN – Yes, their CDN is included in their Free plan. Not many vendors can say that – I dont know any.
  • Always Online – This is my favorite feature, if my server is down, CloudFlare will keep serving cached versions of my site. This is just freaking awesome and makes 100% website availability something that is possible.
  • Security and Contributing to a Safter Web – I’ve been following their blog and they are contributing in a huge way to stop mass Ddos attacks and making the web safer for everybody.

I dont think their Free features are going to stop either. I got on the phone to talk to one of their sales reps about their Enterprise plan for my company. They said that they actually try to offer new features on all account plans (including Free) if they can. They are even trying to figure out how to offer SSL certificates for free – holy cow.

Cloudflare is simply fantastic, from a personal user perspective but also a huge contributor to the online community as a whole making it a better place, you should use them too.