Http to Http(s) Checklist

To enter the mobile space, we created an Android App.

Everything finished with not much challenges and tested properly for good user experience.

Being contended, we started testing on Adroid 5.x series and Boom!!, the payment redirection in web view came crumbling.

On inspection, it was concluded that “as payment server is https so Android Web view accepts it to redirect to an https url instead of http as in our case”

We released the App knowing the bug and proposed resolution

Implement Https

as only 1% of Android Devices were 5.x and most of the users aggregated in US and thankfully not our target Market :)

We started with the obvious step of buying a certificate from one of the Vendors.

Followed the steps to generate needed certificates to put on servers and in nginx config

Now site can be accessed using https, theoretically.

In our case, we had mix of http and https, https only on cart and other http (listing pages) for performance reasons.

Above constraint made it bad and better for different reasons.


  • Handle Mix content warnings


  • Learnings to handle such cases :)

To abstract the basic requirement of redirection to https when accessed through http for secure pages and allowing both http / https in some cases, we resorted to Gem ssl_requirement

It helped us handle above requirement declaratively through ssl_allowed and ssl_required helpers

Next we had to resolved assets falling to 2 major categories:

  • CSS / Javascript
  • Images

As CSS / Javascript implies presence of Browser, which is smart enough to figure relative urls namely // and prepend them with protocol of page its rendering, automatic prepend of http / https.

Bingo !!

We got lucky in images too as they were hosted on Amazon S3 which supports both http / https for same resource.

We took an easy path to always pick https on both http / https pages, as https pages were getting https so no complaints of Mixed Content and http was obliged to be treated for https content :)

Note: https was just a single alphabet change in fog_host config of s3 in paperclip gem, you guessed right the letter was “s in https”

Now, Application was tuned for smooth sail to get it rolling for all.

To handle load, we are having multiple App Servers behind a load balancer.

Our Load Balancer ditched us by behaving abnormally when both http / https routed through it mainly POST requests, if it happens to route to same server it came from, it behaved properly but which we can’t assure being load balanced.

As an alternative, we decided to use 2 Load Balancers with shared IP, one catering to Https requests by only listening to Port 43 and other for Http.

Above Setup worked like a charm, as HTTPs pages got rendered / routed through same Load balancer always.

Oh Wait, we didn’t mentioned anything about App.

After all the juggling, we weren’t very sure of everything working smoothly not because it won’t work but to have a contingency / backup plan if it didn’t :)

We introduced a configuration, which converts urls to http / https as needed and controlled its change through an Api on Server.

Rollbacks / Deploys are easy on Web but not App as it requires to go through a confirmation process which could take hours to days.


Written on May 8, 2015