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Content Management Forum

Website generator with web frontend

 8:30 pm on Jul 10, 2010 (gmt 0)


Let me first talk about the environment.
I'm a member of a non-profit organization that hosts web sites, mail server and internet access. We do not try to compete with big providers. We go were they do not go. For instance we give small villages Internet access through WLAN when they do not get any other broad band connection.

As I said we also provide web space. Our web server has web pages and domains for over 1000 users. These are usually private persons. Some of them install a CMS like Joomla on the webserver, put there sites on and have changes maybe once a month. The problem is that they do not really bother with security patches. So from time to time one of the CMS systems get hacked. This is a pretty high security risk.

I'm looking for a simple CMS that I can put on the same or a different server, that generates static html and puts it in there web space. I know there are sites like SurrealCMS but I don't want our members give there ftp accounts to someone external.

So what I basically want for this lazy users is:
  • Possibility to change the content of their webite online
  • Provide some basic templates and give them to option to build own templates
  • Static HTML with realative links so they can even download the site and view it local

    Does anybody know a system that could do this? Since we are a non-profit it shouldn't cost anything.



     8:32 pm on Jul 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Oh, It wouldn't be a problem if I have to install it once for every user. I could automate this via script.


     9:05 pm on Jul 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Well, the modt common choices that come to mind are Wordpress, Drupal and Movable Type.

    Wordpress is a bit of a problem these days. The code merge of WP and WP Multi-User means you have WPMU capapility in all versions, but it no longer has support for separate root domains (only easily does subdomains and subdirs). There are tutorials out there about how to do it with root domains too.

    Drupal has this built in for domains, subdomains, and subdirs. This works quite well out of the box, but requires the admin to do a few simple things on the server. You can set up the admin end to handle this using the Multisite Manager [drupal.org...] (I've never used it).

    The big caveat, is you should decided which modules and themes you'll make available to your users, and keep that number as small as possible. That will keep updates as infrequent as possible.

    Updating multiple sites is a real hassle if you have a lot of them, but if you have complete access to the server (which obviously you do), there are tools to help

    And then of course Movable Type was also built with this in mind

    As for the static page generation, WP and Drupal have modules that create static pages and MT has this built in.


     9:30 pm on Jul 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

    OK, since WP "only easily does subdomains and subdirs" it is a no go.

    I think I already tried Movable Type and didn't use it because it only did absolute Links. The websites can be accessed via http://ourdomain/user and the user domains (some have several domains that all point to the same document root).

    Can Drupal do relative links?

    [edited by: ergophobe at 10:42 pm (utc) on Jul 10, 2010]
    [edit reason] delinked example domain [/edit]


     10:50 pm on Jul 10, 2010 (gmt 0)


    - pointing to userdomain and admindomain/user is easily done. That's just a question of DNS settings and sym links -- i.e. all virtual hosts resolve to the same place root address (admindomain) and then drupal figures out the rest. To get your two possible navigation routes to resolve right, you would need a symlink from one to the other.

    - looking at a couple of links on a site I have hosted as multi-site, the auto-generated links are all relative links.

    That said, seems like you'd want to 301 from the /user version to the /userdomain version. I assume you're not necessarily doing this because some users have their own domain and some will only have the admindomain/user address?

    Otherwise, it doesn't seem like you would ever want people (and certainly not search engines) to ever be able to access the same content by two addresses.

    - static page caching. In Drupal, this is done with the Boost module


     7:56 am on Jul 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Its not a admin domain. Not all users want a domain of their own so we provide every user a website via ourdomain/user. They will keep this even if they get additinal domains. So it is important that
    all work. They usually have all the same document root. If I let drupal handle this this means that whenever someone accesses the sites drupal has to sit in between. Same goes for the boost module (as far as I understand it).

    I would like to have it work more like a website generator that runs as a web application.
    * Go to the Generaotor and edit your site
    * Hit a generate button. The website is created in a directory
    * Sync the directory to the real document root(s)


     5:33 am on Jul 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

    admindomain, ourdomain, parentdomain... call it what you want. It works as I said, for better and for worse with respect to your requirements.

    I think moveable type can generate a site like that, but I'm not sure.

    The boost module invokes drupal to a minimum to figure out whether the use is logged in or anonymous, but yes, there's always some processing.

    So I assume that however you do it, for users with their own domain, you'll block the ourdomain/user path with robot.txt?


     7:27 pm on Jul 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

    No, we do not blog the ourdomain/user because some users propagated this for years.

    So I will have a look at moveable type again. As far as I remember it is written in perl. So it is no problem to build my own modules.


     3:47 pm on Jul 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

    do not blog the ourdomain/user because some users propagated this for years

    I take it your users don't care about showing up in search engines? These are more for "internal" use or something, intranet style? Otherwise, I'm having trouble understanding why you would not at least block spiders with robots.txt and, preferably, also 301 all content to canonical URLs.


     11:02 pm on Jul 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Basically because it is not my business. If they want to block spiders or do a 301 they can do it. As long as it doesn't compromise the server they can do what they want.


     12:27 am on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Ahh... okay. I misunderstood the situation. It's not that they can't do it if they're savvy, it's that you won't do it for them. Got it.

    If you find a solution, it would be great if you would report it back.

    Oh, and welcome! - I see only now that you're new here. I wish we could have been of more help for your first question!


     2:53 am on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

    Not sure if Modx is what you're looking for but it allows users to add content from the front end by creating user managers in admin. I usually provide a little training to my clients and customize the help page to suit their site.

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