Not Drupal, WordPress MU

So a few weeks ago I blogged about the Drupal installation I was going to create. I had a plan and began to implement it. I had installed Drupal in a Multi-Site configuration but as I worked on the server, I realized that it was too much. drupal-logo I needed my faculty and students to publish in a simple, quick and easy way. I could have restricted Drupal a great deal to implement this, but…

At about the same time, I saw D’Arcy Norman post a tweet about his new WordPress MU installation and how great it was to install and how easy it was to use.wordpress-mu-logo I use WordPress for this blog and have installed WPMU multiple times. I realized that what we needed was an intranet type site and that building it with WordPress MU would be much easier than Drupal. If eventually we needed the functionality of Drupal, our teachers and students would be used to a web based Content Management System and the switch would not be so difficult.

With that said, I built our new intranet in WordPress MU. I added the LDAP plug-in so faculty can authenticate off of our Active Directory. I also installed Anarchy Media Player and Farmer’s Anti-Spam Pack from the WPMUDev.org Web Site (be careful, some of those plug-ins are out of date). I installed Farmer’s Theme pack and we selected two themes for our faculty to choose from.

So we’re up and running. We have some teachers, staff and student clubs interested in and publishing.

I have a few outstanding issues to resolve:

1. How do I support the teachers who ask for a password protected site? Why? I have some concerns about copyright and student privacy. The easy way would be to install a new WPMU installation and put it behind a PAM Auth password. But I wonder if there is a way to password protect certain blogs on our WordPress MU installation. That would be ideal as I would only have to support one installation. I’ll be looking for a plug-in for this in the near future. Know any?

2. The WordPress MU LDAP plug-in allows for authentication of one tree of an LDAP directory, but I would like to add two (faculty and students). I need to check out the code to see if those variables are held in an array and if they will work with two LDAP trees. Drupal’s LDAP Integration Module is awesome in this respect. Maybe I can borrow some of its code? More tweaking needed.

3. The root site on our WPMU 1.2.5a installation is a bit buggy. Here the problem:

When I view http://url.org using Internet Explorer 6.0 and 7.0, it looks fine. When I look at http://url.org using Firefox, the url is forward to http://www.url.org and the style sheet does not load. I have seen some versions of Firefox load the css but not many. The css url in the page source appears correct.

To get around this, I logged into one of the sub sites and went to Site Admin -> Blogs, and clicked Edit to the right of the http://url.org site. I then added a www. to all of the urls in on that page, except for the Site URL

This works, but is quirky and I would like http://url.org to work correctly in IE and Firefox. This is one of the only situations where IE has come through for me — probably because of a non-standard implementation of dns.

4. Last, but not least, I need to do some theme hacking so we have a default theme and the default links that load in the Blogroll link all of our sub-blogs back to the mother blog.

I have to post #2 and #3 those last two issues up in the WPMU forums.

Now for the hard part, getting people to write!

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11 thoughts on “Not Drupal, WordPress MU

  1. Alex,

    This is a very helpful posts as I’m still contemplating building a blogging tool here in my district. Thank you for being thorough – and I hope you’ll post follow ups.

  2. Thanks, Bud. In listening to your podcast, I was motivated to install DrupalEd here as well. We’re using it for some test projects. I think that the public blogging may complement some of the group work that can happen in DrupalEd. I’ve love to know your thoughts. Maybe on our webcast?

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  4. Alex, for number 4 we were able to do just that with out a lot of hacking around. One, we set up a theme, and then 2, we hacked the creation script for new blogs to auto-insert links in the blogroll. They already auto-insert wordpress.com and some others, so just change what they insert to what you want to be there.

    As for LDAP integration, I’m jealous and will be picking your brain on that.

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  7. Hello, Alex,

    WRT DrupalEd or WPMU, both are great choices — it really gets down to how and when you want to spend your time.

    WPMU offers a shorter install time, and, with fewer options, a shorter config setup. Drupal requires more time on the setup, largely in order to simplify the UI and hide functionality from users who don’t yet need it, or who might be confused by a multiplicity of options. But, once the setup is done, so is the bulk of your work. As a point of reference, your 4 questions about WPMU are all non-issues in Drupal — a clean install would address all of these.

    WP’s greatest strength is in its simplicity, and if you need a blogging engine it is the best of breed. However, when you start to get into some of the details that arise in education over time (and you allude to some of them in the 4 questions in your post), WP begins to strain under the load. It’s relatively easy to stay organized in WP with a small number of posts, but this becomes more complex over time, over subjects, and over contexts (ie, how to, quickly and easily, separate out notes from resources from fully realized posts — tags will get you part of the way there, but, even then, tags start to strain as you have more posts).

    One thing I’d recommend doing now, early in the process — install a Drupal site, with the feed_api installed, and aggregate all the content from your WP blogs into a Drupal site. If/when you reach the point where you outgrow WP, you will have all your content within Drupal, which will simplify any migration. Additionally, this will also be a nice backup strategy, and will allow you to reuse content in a way not possible using WPMU alone —

    As to this Jim Groom character: he has actually done some amazing work customizing Drupal to look like WordPress 🙂

    Cheers,

    Bill

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