Our plans for the multi-site manager

Hey, if you read thehttp://opensourcecms.com interview, you know we're thinking about a server app to let you run many c5 installs on one machine. Lemmie describe what we've got today, what we're thinking, and maybe you can help keep us on a useful track.

We already have the ability to run multiple c5 installs off of a shared code base. We have some simple scripts to create a database and the few files needed for a new client site, and then the core code base files will be used a defaults for everything else. If a client install /has/ a file in the proper place in their directory structure it will be used instead of the core's file. So you can still customize blocks, or even hack away, but when we do a version update to the core - it goes out everywhere.

We use this over onhttp://getConcrete5.com
(hint hint, cough cough)

This stuff /works/ but it's hardly packaged up well or sexy. We were thinking one of these days we'd take a couple of weeks an build a standalone web server management tool.

it would centralize the c5 code base, but do a lot more including..

o... Run X sites off of Y code base's. You should be able to checkbox select /some/ installs and upgrade them to different code bases, or even downgrade.

o... Copy a site. We do a fair amount of backup and sandboxing for our hosting clients, this should be as simple as "copy" on a install list.

o... Some logs/stats? not sure if this recreates the wheel or no. People seem to respond well even to the simplest of stats we put in the dashboard on c5 - so i think some exploration here makes sense.

o... what else???

oh, and what would ya pay for it?

View Replies:
Tarraq replied on at Permalink Reply
I'd be happy to pay maybe $100 for it.
Maybe a community version and a pro version?

I've been looking for a while for a simple CMS that I can use on multiple sites. And.. do I really want to maintain 30 separate installations?
C5 is looking a lot like that system. My main target group are non-technical users. Inline editing is sooo cool :)

Other features that would be nifty:
- Export entire site to a works-every-time-no-binary-crap xml-, file- and sql-dump package, for moving to another physical server.
- separate per site backup/restore (so I can restore a single site from my nightly backup). For instance running a batch of the above export to a directory named domain1.com.zip etc.
- Enable/disable a site with a checkbox, in case client doesn't pay
- Lots more. Give me a buzz via email if we should look into this together.

- Michael
katalysis replied on at Permalink Reply
This is a great idea and probably worth a lot more than $100!
Keeping many individual CMS sites up-to-date with security patches and module updates is an ongoing nightmare for a web design company and not something clients expect to spend much money on.
A single base system for most cms web site customers would save a lot of time and time is money!
We are also getting more customers who need to run multiple sites for different brands or for niche search strategies. A single site manager and options to share users between sites is just what these clients need.
Any thoughts on when this facility might be available?
Also, I can't find any documentation for 'running multiple C5 instals off a single codebase' now. Is there anything?
Remo replied on at Permalink Reply
I was thinking about something similar when I thought about the "auto-update". Feature:

Since it is quite difficult to update a c5 installation using php code it thought it might be nice to have a separated "c5 update/backup/restore" server. A small php application where you simply enter the ftp credentials to all the sites you want. You could then execute a couple of functions from this point like
- check for updates
- backup
- restore
- install
- install update
- duplicate to a new site

This is not a concrete5 that could host more than one page but it would make it much easier to work with a hundred installations..

I don't care about stats or logs. There is part of the web server or part of something like google analytics.

My servers don't have ftp, only sftp which might be a problem too because as far as I know php only supports "ftp" and "ssl ftp" (which is not sftp!)

What I would pay for it. Good question - I wanted to implement what I wrote above on my own...
As soon as I have a few more customers running c5 this feature is pretty much a must have. Means I would also pay for it. Right now there's just a one problem - c5 is not ready for all my customers. I need a couple of features before I'm able to use c5 for all my projects...
Because of that it's a bit difficult to say what this feature is worth...
eddt replied on at Permalink Reply
To be honest, the most basic methods here would make me happy. I'm currently running a few sites off a single Drupal install, and would love to transition to C5 for lots of other reasons!

But I have to admit I like the sort of elegant way Drupal does multi-site, by simply controlling all the domains via modrewrite, and then tying a seperate config file to the domain in question, each install with its own DB!
ryan replied on at Permalink Reply
you could just point multiple domains towards the same c5 install, then do a switch statement on the hostname inside of site.php loading a different db for each site.

haven't tested it, but "should" work, you may run into some funkyness in the asset library, but my guess is that it'll work fine..
eddt replied on at Permalink Reply
Great tip, Ryan - I'll give it a go when I get C5 setup next week! Looks like I won't be putting of my transition after all!
lab3 replied on at Permalink Reply
Did you ever get this working?
frz replied on at Permalink Reply
doing what? multiple sites with a shared concrete5 codebase? yes that works... running "two" sites from one install by starting them a level down in the tree? yeah you can do that as well.

were not gonna build a multisite manager though, the whitepaper is enough.
MissMarvels replied on at Permalink Reply
Tried to find this white paper.. could you point it to me?
frz replied on at Permalink Reply
BAC replied on at Permalink Reply
Is the whitepaper written for linux only? We are interested in installing in a windows environment.
frz replied on at Permalink Reply
it is certainly geared towards a unix environment as that's what we designed concrete5 for.

I'm sure a centralized config would be possible under windows - and I imagine the whitepaper might give you some starting points and direction on how to approach it - but it's not written with IIS in mind.
eoi replied on at Permalink Reply
Any idea how to a point a domain to that part of sub-tree so that the subtree can run as a seperate root exclusively under the pointed domainname.

There are solutions under wordpress and more under typo3 to point a domain this way
frz replied on at Permalink Reply
We did this for MonsoonWorks.com and MonsoonWorks.uk

I think it's mostly mod-rewrite tom foolery.
gthomas3 replied on at Permalink Reply
For a centralized install, is it possible to have the central location operating unique sites at folder locations, opposed to domains? If so, does the white paper cover this?
frz replied on at Permalink Reply
that's not what the whitepaper focuses on, but a lot of what it covers would help - and if you asked how to do that in the hosting partner forums you'd get a quick explanation of how we'd approach the problem.
MikePearce replied on at Permalink Reply
I read this with excitement, noting the date was over 6 months ago, but then frz says that they won't be building a multi-site manager in the comments below, so, will you be doing a chargable upgrade for a multi site manager, or just the white paper?
frz replied on at Permalink Reply
a multi-site manager is a nice idea, but its very low on my radar. Given the complexity of different server setups, and also the different types of things that people really want to do when they say "multi-site manager," I think this is a time suck for us and way down on the list compared to things like releasing a forums add-on that rocks and ecommerce..

for now, we're happy to share what we know with our hosting partners with those whitepapers, but i see building a multi-site manager that we sell as a total nightmare..

far more likely is we'll rethink how we're integrating our own hosting with this site and there will be a nice reseller console in your account area here... that's not gonna happen tomorrow, but i'm thinking about it.

stoneyard replied on at Permalink Reply
This is just what I want. When can I get it?
Fernandos replied on at Permalink Reply

I need it asap, will pay 150Euro.
(I've got my own server)
frz replied on at Permalink Reply
managing installation support for people putting c5 on different types of servers is already a painful time suck. making some server software to manage multiple installs would be a huge liability and distract us even further from the core.

if you're serious about wanting to run a hosting environment, join the hosting partner program, hire a sys-admin, and treat this as the custom problem it is.

Fernandos replied on at Permalink Reply
my only option is to do that on the next project then.
(I am sysadmin and developer)