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WP multisite – my experience

I’ve been working on updating my musician site this week [something that has been on the to do list for a good long while now.] I decided to add a whole slew of new functionality to the site, including podcasting, digital download sales, RSS feeds, etc.

So I decided to switch from a static HTML/PHP site [see, I did say it’s been on the list for a long time!] to using WordPress Multisite.

The WordPress decision was fairly easy – I’m proficient with it, I really like the community that has grown around it, and I’m trying to wean myself off of Google services as much as possible – which includes Feedburner for RSS management. The multisite decision was a little tricky, and required some thought.

A bit of background: Up until recently WordPress had two different versions: “Regular” WordPress, and WordPressMU. Regular WordPress only allowed one blog, whereas you can have multiple blogs – i.e. completely different sites within the same installation. Recently the two version have been “folded” together so there is only one install – but you have to activate the multisite feature and do some filddling around with some settings.

An good example of the difference would be this site – MaconMacGuy.com – compared with the Lake Wildwood Association site [Lakewildwood.org]. MaconMacGuy has one primary section [and one primary author, although WP can have multiple authors and functions like contributor, editor, admin, etc.]. The Lake Wildwood site has multiple blogs – each can have it’s own design, plugin set, and separate sets of Pages and Posts.

Given the amount of content I wanted to put on the new site, and the feature set I need to implement, the Multisite version seemed to be the best path. For example, one section of the site – TomRule.info/musicstuff – will be a podcast. None of the other sections require that kind of functionality or options. So by keeping the podcast plugin active in only one section of the site, things are cleaner both in terms of design and admin issues.

One interesting little tidbit I picked up regards plugins. It took some time [OK, longer than it should have!] If the plugin is multisite compatible things work fine – you install the plugin from the network admin section and then can decide whether to activate it for the entire network or not. If not, they can be enabled for a particular section of the site by navigating over to a particular blog’s plugin page and activating it there.

I have also decided to go ahead and select the generic TwentyEleven theme for now – migrate the content, and THEN get on the design part of the process. I usually work on the design first, but thought this would be an interesting way to accomplish the redesign.

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