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  1. #1
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    Recommendations for Upgrading from Self-Rolled Multi-Site CMS to the Real Thing ;)

    Sorry for the long-winded title, but that's exactly what I'm inquiring about. I have a series of websites focusing on various topics, each one with various sections. Some of the sections are shared between different websites, such as a World section. Thus, you could have URL's like MySite/World/Arizona and MySite2/World/Arizona, with one focusing on Arizona geography and the other on Arizona people.

    All of these sites are CMS's. Actually, the entire project is one big CMS, as each site includes files from a primary script that handles all the preliminaries, database queries, etc. Sites like MySite2 are little more than skeletons consisting of static pages that include everything from the master site.

    Some of my sites are huge. I have a site focusing on animals that has over 50,000 pages and could eventually feature over a million pages if I decide to take on life in general.

    Now I'm working on a new site - sort of a mini-encyclopedia that will combine all these sites into one site. I don't plan on deleting the existing sites. Rather, people will be able to read about a particular topic at the original URL (e.g. MySite2/Life/Aardvark) or the new encyclopedia site (e.g. MySite/Aardvark). This encyclopedia will also have some separate sections, like MySite/Dictionary and MySite/Calendar.

    I've been working with PHP and MySQL for more than five years. I'll never been a hot coder, but I have fairly solid intermediate skills.

    To finally get to the point, I have a lot of pride in something I created myself, and it's going to hard to learn a different way of doing things, but all the experts seem to agree that popular CMS's are the best choice. There are a lot of special features I'd like to add that are going to take a lot of work, features that have already been developed for various CMS'.

    So, based on the information I've provided, what are your recommendations? If it's going to take me months to import and reconfigure all my code and scripts into a CMS, then I may have no choice but stay the course and continue working on my own. But it looks like the only way I'll know is to give it a try, so what are your recommendations?

    Would you recommend Drupal, WordPress or something else? Could there be advantages to using Drupal and WordPress both - for example, using Drupal for the main sections and content and WordPress for the Dictionary and Calendar, or using Drupal for the primary website/encyclopedia and WordPress for the other sites.

    I'd like to install Drupal, WordPress or whatever and create sort of an alias - like MySiteDrupal - that mirrors my existing site. That way I can develop them side by side for a while and see how it goes.

    Sorry for all the questions. Any tips will help. Thanks!

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    That title is just fine

    So if I read you correctly you want one master site that controls the data, then you feed specific data to sub (skeleton) sites?

    If that's so then ExpressionEngine may be a good fit, along with it's Multiple Site Manager addon (MSM). That would allow you to set up a site structure like this:

    site1.com (main site)
    -- site2.com (skeleton site)
    -- site3.com (skeleton site)

    You would control all your content data in site1, then on site2, site3 you would pull in specific data sets as you needed.

    As an example, I run several EE sites like this that share news items across sites. On the main site (site1) we generally show all news items, then on each sub (skeleton) site we pull in specific news items using an EE Category Group which enables you to publish a news item to any or all sites. The Category Group is simply a list of sites, and the author simply checks each site they want to publish to.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the tip, bluedreamer; I'll take a look at ExpressionEngine.

    In the meantime, I had another inspiration: Using two different CMS's (one for the satellite websites and another for the duplicate articles in the encyclopedia on the main site) would have an advantage in that it would help me differentiate the two projects. Features not available in one CMS might be available in another, so MySite2/Animals/Aardvark could have a few advantages over MySite/Aardvark, and vice versa.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chavista View Post
    In the meantime, I had another inspiration: Using two different CMS's (one for the satellite websites and another for the duplicate articles in the encyclopedia on the main site) would have an advantage in that it would help me differentiate the two projects.
    Yes you could use separate CMS installs, but then you'd be duplicating a lot of content entry.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chavista View Post
    Features not available in one CMS might be available in another, so MySite2/Animals/Aardvark could have a few advantages over MySite/Aardvark, and vice versa.
    Using the EE+MSM model you have control over the URL structure on each site, so you could have

    site1.com/encyclopedia/aardvark
    site2.com/animals/aardvark
    site3.com/creatures/aardvark
    site4.com/aardvark

    ...where the page content is identical on each site.

    If you wanted variations of content to be used on different sites you can set up several custom fields to describe the information, e.g.:

    Title (name of animal, used across all sites)
    Latin name (used across all sites)
    Colour (used across sites)
    Standard description (generic description used on main site)
    Alternative description (used on skeleton site, if empty show the Standard Description instead)
    ...and so on. You can use as many custom fields as you need, and use then on each site as you required.


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