Read the latest blog on our projects and new developments in areas like security, WordPress and Typo3. The team at Prater Raines write how projects have progressed with challenges that have been faced. We like to keep you informed in technology and security updates.

August 29, 2023
by Matt Raines

Looking back to 2005

Matt working on Lib Dem Image in 2005

After months of hard work we launched our first e-commerce site for Lib Dem Image, official party supplier of branded campaign materials. They’re still with us to this day although it’s now WooCommerce on WordPress. At the time of launch, open source e-commerce applications such as osCommerce did exist but were pretty basic, and I had experience developing bespoke e-commerce applications so building from scratch made sense.

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August 25, 2023
by Matt Raines

Looking back to 2004

Tim working at our exhibition stand at a 2004 Lib Dem conference

Our main focus this year was the continued growth of our Lib Dem website platform and by the end of 2004 we reached 175 customers including regions, MPs, MEPs, associated organisations like Liberty Network and ALDC, a portal for returning officers and the London mayoral campaign. This meant we needed our first replacement server which I was proud to tell Tim had 2 CPUs, 80GB of hard disk, and a whole gigabyte of RAM.

WOOOOOOOOSh [said the server]. Nice looking kit. — Tim Prater

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August 24, 2023
by Matt Raines

Looking back to 2003

Brighton Lib Dem conference in 2003

2003 was a year of remarkable growth for Prater Raines. We built bespoke website developments for the New Politics Network, the campaign for Votes at 16, the Parliamentary Candidates Association, and events website The Full Effect. But it was the runaway progress of our Liberal Democrat website platform that most proved the business would be lasting and successful.

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August 23, 2023
by Matt Raines

Looking back to 2002

Tim and Matt in 2002

Tim and I first mooted the idea of working together to build an affordable website platform for Liberal Democrat council groups and individuals in October of 2002. But we’d already known each for other a little while before then.

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August 4, 2023
by Matt Raines

Using XDebug with VSCode on Ubuntu

VSCode at an Xdebug breakpoint

A recent talk at Symfony Online guilt-tripped me out of the “var_dump() and die()” debugging style once again and back into using XDebug. It’s clearly the right solution to debugging in PHP and Derick is a good friend so I often feel guilty that I’ve fallen out of the habit. Coincidences being what they are, it really came in handy that I’d set it all up again when I had to diagnose a problem with one of our APIs this week. You can’t really var_dump() in a subrequest.

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Boundary map of the Westminster constituency of Beaconsfield

Following this year’s review by the Boundary Commissions for England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, the next General Election will be fought on new constituencies for the first time since 2010.

Full data isn’t published by the ONS yet. But the Lib Dems use our well-loved online interface to Salesforce, Lighthouse, to manage selection processes for election candidates and need to have the new constituency data to plan for the next GE, in addition to the existing constituencies on which any by-elections before the next GE will still be fought.

In order to import the new data into Salesforce, they naturally turned to Prater Raines for our expertise in political geography and API and database design.

If you work with political geography data and Salesforce, need your own organisation structure mapped, or your online campaign would benefit from enabling supporters to email MPs based on their geographic location, get in touch.

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Sarah Dyke wins Somerton and Frome

Always good to wake up news to the news that a friend and client has had a major success, and we got that news today!

Huge congratulations to the new MP for Somerton and Frome Sarah Dyke.

Sarah’s campaign website at was based on our Fleet service for the Liberal Democrats. Sites can be put together and launched at speed but with wide ranging functionality, with data flowing directly from website sign-ups, petition signatories and volunteer offers into the Party’s key campaigning database.

July 12, 2023
by Tim Prater

ClickStart and Coursera

Click Start image from IoC website

Nominet, the public benefit company that operates and protects .UK internet infrastructure, has partnered with The Institute of Coding (IoC). Together, they are launching an ambitious programme at scale to change the course of the UK’s growing digital skills shortage and pull down the barriers many face trying to enter the rapidly-evolving workforce.

Prater Raines have been accredited Nominet Channel Partners since 2007.

Nominet has committed to £12m in funding over three years to develop the Click Start programme with the IoC, led by the University of Bath. There will be opportunities for over 26,000 learners to take part in the initiative – these could be anyone from veterans looking for a career change, to underrepresented groups who are looking for an introduction to entry level tech and digital roles, to young learners looking to start their careers.

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May 10, 2023
by Matt Raines

Celebrating 21 years in business

The Prater Raines team

When Prater Raines took on its first batch of customers, the only smartphone was a BlackBerry, less than 200,000 UK homes had a broadband Internet connection and Pop Idol’s Gareth Gates and Will Young were dominating the charts.

We’re proud and excited to be celebrating 21 years in business this year and looking forward to many more to come.

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April 19, 2023
by Matt Raines

Hyphenated domain names considered harmful

A browser address bar showing "" with a pop-up error message reading "Did you mean Attackers sometimes mimic sites by making hard-to-see changes to the web address."

At Prater Raines we’ve provided campaigning websites for more than 20 years. Our role as provider of choice to every Liberal Democrat local or regional party in the country means that we’ve registered over a thousand domain names.

During our recent launch of the party’s new federated website platform Fleet we noticed something unusual when we were asked to register some domains containing hyphens for new customers. We were seeing warnings that the sites might not be legitimate.

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