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Last post Author Topic: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders  (Read 2580 times)

mouser

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As most of you know we are in the process of migrating the main DC website to a new cms (see here), with the aim of making it easier to maintain the site and add new content.

One of the other things that we have done on DC is provide web hosting for some dc members to create their own websites, on a separate server (dcmembers.com).
We started out thinking that would be a really nice feature to offer dc members, but we have gradually done less and less of that over time.

The main reason is maintenance headaches.. It's basically running a shared server with lots of different user accounts and all the headaches that entails.  There are also security concerns with everyone running different web scripts and some being abandoned and not updated with security releases, etc.

The other reason is the proliferation over the years of free hosting services (blogger, github, etc.).



It still occurs to me that a compromise solution would be some kind of multi-user cms/blog system where we would only have to maintain one central piece of software and could create lots of individual user accounts, where each user could maintain their area and their software and blog writings..

It would be more restrictive in format (i.e. mostly uniform appearance of user pages), but that could also be an advantage in terms of consistency, and would have the advantage of sharing visitors and popularity and being able to have a shared news/release page, etc.

So my question is -- can anyone recommend some multi-user cms thing that is really designed to give each author their own (protected) "area" to create and maintain in, and host software for download, while offering some shared news/search/etc functions?

f0dder

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2017, 06:21 AM »
I understand your headaches wrt. maintenance and security, but...

It would be more restrictive in format (i.e. mostly uniform appearance of user pages), but that could also be an advantage in terms of consistency, and would have the advantage of sharing visitors and popularity and being able to have a shared news/release page, etc.
I'm not sure this is an advantage - this loses uniqueness of dcmembers pages, and you might as well run the member pages off donationcoder.com then?
- carpe noctem

Ath

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2017, 09:54 AM »
And it will invalidate the urls embedded in some/many of the software published, as well as any links in forummessages :(

Tuxman

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2017, 10:00 AM »
multi-user cms/blog system where we would only have to maintain one central piece of software and could create lots of individual user accounts

WordPress has a built-in "network" functionality (formerly known as "WordPress MU" for "Multi-User"). The only notable disadvantage is that it's still WordPress.

mouser

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2017, 10:43 AM »
I'm not talking about changing the existing member pages.. More for new ones.

Some people prefer to have complete control over the look of their site and design something unique and want to be able to choose what web framework they like best -- but some would prefer to be part of a larger team -- this would be more for people who wanted to be part of a team with a shared look.

Regarding invalidating urls: If we did make a new setup, which is by no means certain, and existing folks wanted to move over to it, we would use redirects to ensure all the old urls were still valid.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2017, 10:56 AM by mouser »

rgdot

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2017, 12:55 PM »
WordPress multisite (subdomains), easy and good imo

Shades

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2017, 04:13 PM »
How about giving each user its own Joomla account, grant them access to blog functionality (which you might need to add) or their own landing page and then let each user use their own css on such a page?
This extension gets high marks on the official Joomla extension page:  https://www.hyde-des...xtensions/custom-css.

wraith808

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2017, 01:33 AM »
WordPress multisite (subdomains), easy and good imo

My experience with Wordpress is that it's double minded over whether it's a blogging platform or a CMS, to not good results.  It also takes a bit to maintain, as it's a very big surface for attack, and very popular.  You might take a look at Ghost, and the users could host their downloads offsite, i.e. Dropbox or something.

Tuxman

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2017, 08:15 AM »
Those are not even remotely as easy as WPMU, sadly.

rgdot

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2017, 04:47 PM »
The last im
WordPress multisite (subdomains), easy and good imo

My experience with Wordpress is that it's double minded over whether it's a blogging platform or a CMS, to not good results.  It also takes a bit to maintain, as it's a very big surface for attack, and very popular.  You might take a look at Ghost, and the users could host their downloads offsite, i.e. Dropbox or something.

Easy to maintain WordPress surely is :D Even compared to flat file and static file generators that might require fiddling with non-GUI/cli components. As for attacks and popularity, the server where they reside on must be secured, good passwords, up to date WP and plugins takes care of (I want to say 90%) of the problem.

mouser

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2017, 05:02 PM »
Wordpress does seem to be a target/recipient of attacks disproportionately, but i think having a single install, with minimal 3rd party extensions, which was kept always up to date, would be more secure than having a large number of different frameworks that were sporadically updated if ever..

f0dder

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2017, 02:07 PM »
Wordpress does seem to be a target/recipient of attacks disproportionately, but i think having a single install, with minimal 3rd party extensions, which was kept always up to date, would be more secure than having a large number of different frameworks that were sporadically updated if ever..
Emphasis mine.

Either you figure out a way to always auto-update to the newest version, while not breaking anything... or you have to do this manually, figuring out if an update will break things, looking for CVEs to see if you have to zomgupdatenow or if you can keep it on a regular schedule. You'll also have to prevent users from installing just any plugins, since that's how mass-defacements usually happen.

If somebody wants Wordpress, I think they should be going for a managed solution at Wordpress rather than dealing with it themselves.
- carpe noctem

wraith808

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2017, 03:46 PM »
Wordpress does seem to be a target/recipient of attacks disproportionately, but i think having a single install, with minimal 3rd party extensions, which was kept always up to date, would be more secure than having a large number of different frameworks that were sporadically updated if ever..
Emphasis mine.

Either you figure out a way to always auto-update to the newest version, while not breaking anything... or you have to do this manually, figuring out if an update will break things, looking for CVEs to see if you have to zomgupdatenow or if you can keep it on a regular schedule. You'll also have to prevent users from installing just any plugins, since that's how mass-defacements usually happen.

If somebody wants Wordpress, I think they should be going for a managed solution at Wordpress rather than dealing with it themselves.


Thanks.  That was what I was saying.  And I had minimal plugins/themes.  And it's a pain.

mouser

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2017, 09:01 PM »
An update: I think I have settled on using Wordpress for this function.
It seems to offer the best trade-offs in terms of ease of use and ability to run multiple sites from a single install, and has some reasonable plugins to allow the site owners to host their software downloads.  And of course have their own blogs.
We can have a unified theme for those that want it and those that don't can use a custom one.


mouser

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2017, 11:57 PM »
I think this is going to work -- and will let us provide dc members who want it with a nice clean web area with their own blog and software download area in a very clean simple way, which they can customize and manage to whatever extent they want, and allow us to maintain and backup all member sites very easily.  It's what we originally set out to do with the dcmembers area but never were actually able to do much of because the maintenance and security issues were too much work.

mouser

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #15 on: October 24, 2017, 07:11 AM »
A very minimalist example:
Screenshot - 10_24_2017 , 7_11_49 AM.pngIn search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders

Screenshot - 10_24_2017 , 5_30_19 PM.pngIn search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders

Screenshot - 10_24_2017 , 5_32_59 PM.pngIn search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders

Hub start page:
Screenshot - 10_24_2017 , 7_27_25 PM.pngIn search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Last Edit: October 24, 2017, 07:27 PM by mouser »

cranioscopical

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2017, 10:23 AM »
A very minimalist example:
Screenshot - 10_24_2017 , 7_11_49 AM.pngIn search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
Looks good  :Thmbsup:

mouser

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2017, 05:35 PM »
From the screenshots you can see the basic idea -- a dc members page is a blog and a download repository for the coders software.  The blog functionality is standard wordpress; the download repository is handled by a plugin that handles the display of the downloads (both as a master searchable list and as individual pages) and makes it easy to add new downloads, update new versions, track download stats, etc.



To elaborate a little on what I am trying to do.  I think the current solution satisfies all of these requirements handily:
  • I want us to be able to easily create and host small websites for dc members that are coders, where they can have a clean website and host their software.
  • I want us to be able to very very easily maintain and backup these sites using a single simple interface.
  • I want us to be able to keep these sites secure with little effort, without having to keep track of updating lots of different software packages, etc.
  • I want it to be very easy for the coders to have basic site functionality out of the box including a blog, a contact page, and a nice downloads area for their software.
  • I want to let the dc member customize the appearance of their site and do fancy stuff, but be able to use a standard look that is elegant out of the box if they don't want to mess with it.
  • Ideally it should be easy for a coder to export their site data and migrate to another hosting solution.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2017, 11:55 PM by mouser »

mouser

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2017, 11:43 PM »
Anyone have any additional features they'd like to see on the dcmembers sites?
Any wordpress folks have favorite plugins that they think would be useful to make available on member sites?

IainB

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2017, 11:53 PM »
@mouser: Rather interesting!
Looks like your approach has effectively differentiated between what could be called "the business issues" and "the technical issues", and of course the all-important business requirements, some of which requirements were apparently formerly not achievable with the past technological path taken.

Nice going.
I say that because there will generally always be potential downsides/risks to using one technological approach versus another, but these risks will rarely be absolute or last indefinitely - i.e., technology is generally imperfect and not in a steady-state but tends to improve/evolve, over time. For example, witness the life-cycles of MS Windows OSes.
In terms of engineering a solution, the recommended approach is generally to focus on the business requirements/drivers, and - rather than be blind to the risks - consider/identify flexible mitigation strategies to minimise/avoid the potential technical risks in the future perspective. You seem to have done that to some extent.

Of course, business requirements are likely to change over time as well, so, backwards and forwards compatibility and consideration of potential migration strategies become important too, and you seem to have that in mind also.

IainB

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #20 on: October 25, 2017, 12:06 AM »
...Any wordpress folks have favorite plugins that they think would be useful to make available on member sites?
___________________

I don't have much experience of Wordpress, but I do have a little experience of Google Blogger and Google Sites.  Wordpress functionality would presumably not be too dissimilar to Blogger's, so migration should be straightforward, but I don't know about Wordpress functionality compared to Google Sites. The latter could have some useful/desirable functionality that should probably be reflected in the new regime, for migration to be a breeze.
Just a thought.

wraith808

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #21 on: October 25, 2017, 12:15 PM »
Anyone have any additional features they'd like to see on the dcmembers sites?
Any wordpress folks have favorite plugins that they think would be useful to make available on member sites?

Plugins for Highlighting would be helpful.  The one that I used is Crayon Syntax Highlighter: https://wordpress.or...-syntax-highlighter/

mouser

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #22 on: October 25, 2017, 03:08 PM »
I'll give crayon a look.

mouser

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #23 on: October 27, 2017, 10:23 AM »
Trying to improve the download page look a bit:
Screenshot - 10_27_2017 , 11_44_50 AM.pngIn search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
Screenshot - 10_27_2017 , 10_23_40 AM.pngIn search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Last Edit: October 27, 2017, 11:44 AM by mouser »

tomos

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Re: In search of a lightweight multi-user cms/blog for hosting coders
« Reply #24 on: October 27, 2017, 11:27 AM »
^ Looks good
Tom