Blog Categories

Earlier this week, someone contacted us through our contact page and gave a brief description of what he/she was looking to do with his/her site. Here is part of that description:

….concerning my website mydomain.com I would like to cut it in N subdomains by category….

The contact email did not get into the specifics of the desired categories. However, I did have a picture of what the framework of the implementation for that would look like.

I used to teach at a community college. Most of the students I taught registered a domain and set up an online portfolio. Let’s suppose that the college (or student council) wanted to provide the students with a site to do that. A second feature that they wanted the site to have was a social network to facilitate coordinating student activities. All references to “site(s)” below refers to WPMU site(s). The rough steps they would follow would be:

  • Install WPMU on college.org configured for subdirectories
  • Install and set up BuddyPress (BP) including adding profile fields, etc.
  • Install the Simple WPMU multi-site plugin (SMSP)
  • Add appropriate themes
  • Setup DNS subdomains – ex. gamedesign.college.org (one of the programs I taught courses in)
  • In the SMSP create the respective subdomain site for each of the college’s departments
  • Customize each site’s home page to reflect the flavor of the department
  • Chose and enable user themes on each site that reflected the flavor of the department
  • Enable signups on each of the subdomain sites and have the students sign up on the site for their respective departments
  • The url for the student portfolios would follow the pattern of http://gamedesign.college.org/ronr/
  • All the students would have access to a single common social network (as of BP RC 1.0)

In addition to categorizing the blogs/portfolios, from a site architecture/administration perspective there are a number of bonuses to doing it this way:

  • The SMSP ensures that the admin username cannot be removed from the site admin list on any site, so the main site admin has access to the entire site
  • One or more site admins from a department could be added to the respective site. Being a site admin on one department’s site does not give that user any access on another site
  • All site options can be tailored for that department/site: enabled themes, welcome email, plugins enabled, etc.
  • The WPMU list blogs functions could be used on the department sites’ home pages for listing portfolios from that department
  • Some departments might not require online portfolios for students, so registrations could be set to just user signups
  • Student names could be duplicated across departments – both http://gamedesign.college.org/ronr/ & http://webmaster.college.org/ronr/ could be created

Now that I’ve put it all down on paper, it looks like a pretty sweet setup. And, a different way of doing blog categories.

Comments

  1. Yep, I think that I was looking for something similar long time ago: http://mu.wordpress.org/forums/topic/8647

    But how do You upgrade such installation? Same procedure as normal WPMU? From what I can tell you would only have one WPMU installation on your server + BuddyPress. Right? Still, it sounds like a lots of work to maintain such monster:)

  2. The upgrade should be a normal WPMU upgrade. I’ll verify that once 2.8 is out.

    IMO, it’s less work that maintaining 2 installs although there are reasons why you would want 2 installs.
    .-= Ron´s last blog ..Advanced Export for WP and WPMU =-.

  3. I see. But still, it is a great concept.

  4. Hey Ron,

    Question for you.

    This is kind of an extension to a MU forum topic I made on:
    http://mu.wordpress.org/forums/topic/13986?replies=3

    Basically, I currently have WPMU + BuddyPress installed in the root and was wondering for all new blogs (every blog except blog_id #1), can they be run under a subdomain?

    To be clear, I have WPMU installed in:
    hxxp://www.example.com (blog_id #1 should be shown here, including all its posts, categories and pages)

    I want all subsequent blogs to be created from
    hxxp://blogs.example.com

    So that new blogs will have a subdirectory under that subdomain.
    eg. hxxp://blogs.example.com/newuserblog/

    Right now, I have WPMU setup to run new blogs under subdirectories.

    However, is what I proposed possible with Simple WPMU multi-site plugin?

    Also, would single sign-on stay intact across all blogs (even across the root and subdomain)?

    • You can do that with the multi-site. The one other thing you would have to do to have the signon apply across the subdomain sites would be to edit your wp-config.php and add/change the following line

      define(‘COOKIE_DOMAIN’, ‘.example.com’);

      The leading dot allows the WPMU cookies to server for both the domain & subdomains.

      • Hey Ron,

        Thanks for the reply.

        I have some follow-up questions involving BuddyPress:

        -BuddyPress is installed in the root. Let’s say I’m logged in as a member and I try to create a new blog from http://www.example.com; with the Multi-Site plugin installed, would the new blog URL reside on the root or the new Site instance (blogs.example.com)?

        Preferably, BuddyPress will detect blogs from the new Site instance.

        This is one of the main things I’m trying to wrap my head around.

        Lastly, a question about porting over existing blogs. I have blogs already setup with my current subdirectory MU setup (eg. http://www.example.com/eachmemberbloginstance). If I install the Multi-Site plugin, would I be able to “port” over my current member blogs over to the new subdomain Site (eg. blogs.example.com/eachmemberbloginstance, etc.) without much difficulty? Again, how would this affect BuddyPress (installed in the root)?

        Sorry if these seem like straight-forward questions!

  5. @Ray – Just some general info on BP and sites

    1- BP is enabled on a WPMU site basis so when running multiple site, BP can be enabled on one site and not another.

    2- The same applies to site options/settings like registration.

    3- BP does not filter a user’s blog list on the member profile by WPMU site. So, if you had 5 sites and a user had a blog in 4 of them then all 4 blogs would be listed.

    One way you could accomplish the multisite setup where BP is on the main site and blogs on the additional sites is

    Enable BP only on the main site.
    On the main site set registration to users only.
    On the additional sites set registration to only users can create blogs.
    Create an info page on the main site that provides links to each of the other sites’ signup page.

    The blogs could be moved to a different site using some SQL or by exporting the blog and importing into a blog on the additional site.

    • Thanks Ron.
      That cleared a lot of things up for me.

      If I had some additional time, I would think about implementing this.

      BuddyPress has a “Create a blog” function that piggy-backs off of WPMU’s code, so I’m guessing for me to get the subdomain blog registration working from BP, I’d have to code a custom function to change the link of the blog signup page.

  6. Hey Ron, R-A-Y and I have come over from the bp org forums.

    Are your plugs based off Doncha’s work and will XMLRPC be intact?

  7. Hi Ron,

    Was the upgrade to 2.8 straight forward?

    It’s almost been 6 months since this post was made. BP has come along quite a way since then. Does this solution have the legs to continue as WP & MU merge along with a quickly evolving BP?

  8. The 2.8 upgrade removes the widgets from the sidebar.

    My response above to Ray was 2 weeks ago (after 2.8.4a was released) and is reflective of the current version of WPMU.

    Multi-site capability is a function of WPMU rather than my plugin. What is not built into WPMU is a mechanism for creating and deleting WPMU sites. That’s the functionality in my plugin. Note that there is a small function in it to help BP run correctly in a multi-site environment.

  9. Hi Ron,
    Apologies for jumping in here at late notice. Feel free to bump me somewhere else if you need.

    I’m using your multi-site plugin and have a question…

    Following this comment above:

    1- BP is enabled on a WPMU site basis so when running multiple site, BP can be enabled on one site and not another.

    So your saying…BP can’t work across the entire mu install if multi-site is used at all?

    I’m building a site which I wish to separate the management of my content blogs vs user content blogs, but tied together by BuddyPress.
    Is my only option, if creating a BuddyPress layer across both areas is essential, to not use multi-site and build it all directly on the root of the main site?

    Also can your domain mapping plugin still be used for user blogs, without harming the BP features?

    thanks Ron.

    Regards
    Paul