For the longest time now (I see it’s getting on for five years), I’ve owned IMetJulian.com. It’s a handy website for those times I’m talking to someone I don’t know and I don’t have any business cards on me, yet I want to exchange contact details. I just say, remember “I met Julian” the next time you’re at a PC. Works pretty well. For fun, I even self-host it here at home, using an old Dell XPS something-or-other and Windows Web Server 2008.
Since then social sites like Twitter and Facebook have grown in importance and they allow you to specify an external website for your “About Me” details. Last weekend, I thought I’d buy another domain for these situations since IMetJulian doesn’t really apply. So, I purchased WhoIsThisJulian.com, whose name seems to fit the usage case just right. Since the page I’ll be displaying is going to be static HTML, I thought I’d try another experiment for it: using Amazon S3 for hosting. (I will note that I’ve been using Amazon S3 for data storage and backups for a long time and so I didn’t have to go create an account.)
In order to host a website on Amazon S3, you have to create a couple of buckets, one for the domain name without the ‘www’ part and one for the domain name plus the ‘www’ at the front. You then upload the site files (in my case, the HTML file, the CSS file and an image file) to the unadorned bucket, and though the configuration magic of S3 you configure the that bucket for website hosting (in essence, it’s a flag and you specify the default page name) and the second bucket to redirect to the first. Then you use the Amazon Route 53 service to route calls to the domain name to these buckets.
For information on how to set this up, Amazon have full details in their documentation. Start with the Hosting a Static Website on Amazon S3 topic. From this page, there’s a link to a full walkthrough of the process of registering your domain name with the Amazon Route 53 service. It really is pretty easy: even this n00b webmaster had no issues. Provided you have already registered with Amazon S3, it takes about 10 minutes all told, after which you just wait for the DNS configuration to propagate across the internet so that your new site can be located.
For this particular site, I kept my hosted zone pretty sparse. Apart from the NS and SOA records, which Amazon provides, I created an A (alias) record as detailed in the docs and a CNAME record for www.whoisthisjulian.com. The rest of the usual CNAME records (like email., ftp., mail., etc) I just ignored.