WordPress MU – BuddyPress

Like I don’t have enough to do

#REBCSD Google Wave Session

#REBCSD Google Wave Session

Like I don’t have enough to do.   I’ve decided the next step in my self education on blogging and blog platforms is WordPress MU and BuddyPress.

I’ll admit right out of the box that I’m almost as lot trying to set this up as I was the first time I tried to setup WordPress for my local blog.   It is a whole new ballgame.   I feel like Dorthy in the land of MU.   “I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore Todo”

It is something I’ve thought about for almost a year and have tried on several occasions to install MU on one of my Godaddy hosting accounts.   I’ve read it can be done, but “and it is a big but” But it isn’t easy and straight forward.   Therefore, after several Fail Whale encounters I bought hosting with BlueHost and installed MU on the root of a new hosting package with them.   Even so it took a couple of tries to get it to go there as well.   In this case knowledge of how to set up a self hosted WP blog is “NOT a good thing”   There is not easy install of MU.   I know, I read several tutorial posts on how easy it is to do.   One post was 10 easy steps.   But unfortunately they weren’t in order of what you have to do.   And the explanation, “If it didn’t install then you probably have crappy hosting” just doesn’t cut it.

I saw a tweet a few weeks back wondering why everyone with more than one blog didn’t use MU.   I can give about a dozen good reasons.   If you only have a couple of blogs (couple meaning 5 or less) stick to the simple approach, standard WP works great.   If you have more than 5 existing blogs, I can’t recommend migrating them to MU, at least not yet.

Domain Mapping WP and WPMU

This will be a separate post as soon as I figure out how to do it.   This is simple with WP.

  1. Create a directory on your hosting site
  2. Copy all the WP files to that directory
  3. Point the Domain to that directory
  4. DONE

Oh, if it were only that simple with MU.   How is it done on MU?   I don’t have it figured out yet.   There is “Site Management” and “Domain Mapping”.   I’ll be working on how to do this next.

I’m not sure the audience here at the Lab wants or cares about MU or BuddyPress.   I may move this discussion and future posts to the new site I’ve created for the MU Lab experiments.   Right now it is just “Hello World” and the one MrWordpress comment.   Yeah, you still get those with MU.

BuddyPress another Black Hole

Glutton for punishment was one of my mom’s favorite sayings.   Yep, I think in this one I’m a glutton for punishment.   As if there wasn’t enough to figure out with MU, I’m stacking on learning how to use BuddyPress at the same time.

I’ve installed BuddyPress on the new MU site, but much like MU I have no idea at this point what to do with it.   It seems you have to have a BuddyPress theme to use the plugin.   And at the moment there are only 2.   Not a lot of options there, but again, I’m still not sure what BuddyPress is really all about.

I could use a good 2 day MU-BP-BarCamp.   That is one bar camp I would really be interested in attending.

Comments

  1. WPMU is definitely a PITA to setup, but once you have it up and running, it’s tough to imagine doing it any other way, even with only a couple of blogs. Update your plugins and core…once. A major time saver and your WPMU admin login will work across all sites, so password management is super-easy.

    Unfortunately, all of the comments about “your problem is due to a crappy host” are actually fairly accurate. Some hosts don’t allow some of the access that WPMU requires.

    Best of luck!

  2. Nick,

    I wouldn’t migrate an existing blog to MU simply because the time involved in doing so far exceeds the time it takes to update the WP files and add any additional plugins.

    But for a new project I can see the update in one place is nice. However, as you say PITA is what I’m experiencing trying to get several different domains set up on individual blogs.

    For a small to medium size brokerage or organization providing blogs for individuals in the company/org MU would be a perfect platform.

    A lack of good documentation (by that I mean step by step “specifics”) is an issue. While MU might not be for the average geek, it shouldn’t be something in which you need a degree to install and maintain. And WP installs on almost any hosting platform crappy or otherwise.

    As to GoDaddy hosting, I did find that MU can be installed if you are willing to shell out the money for a dedicated IP address. And that you can’t install it into a subdirectory of there is an existing wp-config.php anywhere in the root or other subdirectories. These are the little gotcha issues that aren’t documented up front.

    As long as you are buying a new hosting package on a brand new domain and installing MU in the root, Yep, piece of cake. Integrate it into an existing hosting package with multiple WP installs in directories and you are back to PITA.

    I just might be picking your brain to reduce the PITA issues as I go along 🙂

    Thanks for dropping by the Lab Nick.

    Dave (somewhere between the black hole of MU and the black hole of BP)

  3. MU and Buddypress definitely have a steeper learning curve then standalone WP. The “get another host” mantra doesn’t always apply, but it absolutely does in the case of Godaddy, so good riddance on that part of your setup. Once you have your wildcard domains working correctly on mu and can create sub-domain blogs and comment on them, then and only then install buddypress and start tackling that…

    The good news is that with the latest version of BP, the theme structure is more stable…. we’ve had to rebuild our themes for Buddypress three times as the architecture changed, not to mention making sure everything was seamless with the standard MU theme we were using and the bbpress theme as well…. but the latest release of BP simplifies things a bit…

    WPMUDEV.org is a great resource for MU plugins and they even have some buddypress themes… if you get serious about MU then their $400 per year membership for their paid plugins (they offer free and paid) is a no brainer.

    The other thing to consider is what is the goal you are trying to accomplish and how do you want to implement BP. A standalone BP site is fine, but it is tougher when you are combining a BP community with a commercial site. We originally launched our Campus at leadpress.com/campus, but realized it was too isolated from our main site at leadpress.com in terms of layout and look and feel, it can confuse visitors, so this week we’ve been rebuilding and integrating buddypress so that it is more transparent with our main theme…. the almost finished product can be seen at brokerlab.com/campus … this is a temp site, so will likely be down in the coming days when we launch it live on our main site…. in any case…… once you have mu installed and working, getting buddypress up and going isn’t hard at all, most of the work is customizing the theme, especially if you’re trying to customize it to look like an already existing theme….. hope this helps….. let me know if you need any help…
    .-= Trace´s last blog ..LeadPress + iPhone Equals Website Control Anywhere =-.

  4. Trace,

    I have no idea what “Once you have your wildcard domains working correctly on mu and can create sub-domain blogs and comment on them, then and only then install buddypress and start tackling that…” means.

    wildcard domains? I do want to have domains pointed at different blogs (if those exist on subdomains). I will deactivate BuddyPress for the time being. I’ve got several domain names I can play with to see how to get them pointed to blog installs on MU. But the WIldcard thing I haven’t heard about before. And I didn’t know there was an issue with getting comments to function on an MU Blog.

    I do plan to be serious with MU as there as some projects I want use it for, but not sure where BP will fit in that picture. As to $400 a year memberships that’s the kind of thing I work very hard to avoid. But that is another bridge fro a time down the road as you say.

    Since I really have no idea what BP does, at this point I can’t have a goal for it. That is one of those things where I’ve read for a couple of hours on the BP Site, but everyone seems to “assume” you know what BP is. I went to the test site and signed up even, but still have no clear understanding of what BP is. Someone, should in clear precise language actually say what BP is and how it can be implemented.

    Is it an intranet forum? It is like Twitter inside an organizational structure? Is it a local version of Ning? I don’t know. And it appears there are TWO themes, one for the site and one for BP? Hum, so much yet to discover.

    Thanks Trace for the input. I’ll take a look at your beta integration site.

    Dave

  5. Dave,

    Wildcard sub-domain refers to a dns setting that needs to be implemented for your primary domain name to be able to accept sub-domain blogs (I’m assuming you would be creating sub-domain blogs, but you can also create them as sub-folders such as example.com/blog1, example.com/blog1, etc). The wildcard will enable you to start with example.com and then create sub blogs such as blog1.example.com, blog2.example.com …. maybe you’ve already got this working?

    Once that is established, you can use one of the domain mapping plugins to map blog1.example.com to any name you choose such as realestatebloglab.com. So all blogs will initially start out as blog1.example.com or example.com/blog1, but can be mapped to any domain you want to use.

    I mention making sure comments work and you can create sub-blogs before using buddypress because many times people will get MU installed and have issues with buddypress that aren’t actually buddypress issues, they’re issues to do with a MU install that isn’t fully functioning correctly.. so basically just be sure MU is installed and working before adding buddypress….

    BuddyPress essentially adds social components to a site, there are groups, forums, profiles, etc. You’ve probably already seen the demo site at testbp.org, but check it out if you haven’t, that’s the default install and what it looks like if you use the default BP theme. Here are 3 more themes from WPMUDEV…http://premium.wpmudev.org/themes/

    Regarding goals, it just helps to have a point or goal in establishing the community that you’re wiling to keep working towards and won’t get bored with in a few months.., even if you do have a goal it’s really hard to start an active community…. hope this helps.
    .-= Trace´s last blog ..LeadPress + iPhone Equals Website Control Anywhere =-.

  6. If you’re looking for even more tutorials, there’s a ton at my blog. 🙂 And yes, domain mapping is covered as well.
    .-= Andrea_R´s last blog ..Mixing mapped domains and sites =-.

  7. Andrea_R,

    Thank you. I’m sure I’ll be there today.

    Dave

  8. Trace,

    It helps immensely thanks for the info and detailed comment.

    Dave

  9. Here’s a little update for anyone following this discussion.

    Trace, Andrea

    I’m not looking to run a site with 1000 blogs on it. I’m looking for a solution to small non-profit orgs. that need a blog (or 2) and a way for members to communicate and collaborate with each other on various projects and committee assignments.

    That said, here is what I’ve discovered so far.

    1. Bluehost doesn’t allow wildcard DNS records. So I don’t need to set that up.
    2. Is the only reason for wildcard DNS so people can add their own blog? If so it is a mute point for me. I don’t intend to use MU in that manner.
    3. I can add sub-domains manually from the CPanal and assign domains to those, again, manually.
    4. I’m thinking of re-installing MU and using subfolders instead of sub-domains.
    5. I understand folders and assigning domain names to them is a no-brainer.

    The MU install is a blank slate at this time so deleting the database and wp-config file won’t take long at all.

    Still, I’m left with the over all impression that there is little to be gained from MU over several WP installs (unless it is for larger business/orgs), and it is definitely more expensive and confusing to do so.

    For example, “Setting up a wildcard DNS. I’ve spent a couple hours researching this and still have no clue where this is done or how. it is just stated, “Oh and get your wildcard DNS setup”. Duh, Dial-up Geek here. I need step by step answers like I try and provide here at the lab.

    Andrea_R

    Your site has some great tutorials, but there is a level of assumed knowledge that goes beyond where I’m at currently. But I’ll keep coming back and re reading the posts.

    The black hole is smaller, but there is still little light escaping 🙂

    Thanks to all who are helping along the way. I really do appreciate it.

    Dave

  10. Has anyone heard of agentpress and whats your thoughts on it it looks great but not sure how hard it will be to install and what a good hosting company other than godaddy

  11. Barry,

    My understanding is Agentpress is a theme by studio press. it can be installed on any existing WP blog. While not in the studio press stable of themes it is designed by Brian Gardner.

    I’m one that doesn’t like the idea of mixing listings with blogging. It is like oil and water. They can exist in the same glass but send a mixed message.

    I prefer to deal with listing separate and keep the focus of the blog on the community and the process.

    For example. Now one likes a vendor trying to sell something at REBarCamp. It is said over and over again. “NO PITCHES” there is a time and place for it but REBarCamp isn’t it. I don’t believe a good RE Community blog is it either. It sends the same message and dilutes the effect of building good relationship with readers. When they are interested in looking at listings, they will ask. I know, they always do.

    Dave

  12. Well Dave it sounds like we will be going at this about the same time. After not visiting the lab for a couple weeks and doing a google search brought me back here to see you are a couple days ahead of me.

    I think what you and I are most curious about is if we can continue to do aliasing to directories or if once you do the wildcard DNS fixes it just takes over everything. I read a pretty good post from Cheryl Johnson where she explains how to do all this on GoDaddy. But, with that being said I have not risked taking down my main sites from the directories they are running in on my primary deluxe hosting plan. I have no intentions of taking the main sites from stand-alone wordpress installs.

    I really started deciding to play with WP MU when I decided Iwanted a better way to make some stealth sites, and single property sites. I do not think I will be playing with BuddyPress for the things I want to do, I am really just looking for an easier or better way for maintaining, updating, and rolling out these types of sites. Not even sure about any benefits it may have with PR at this point, but am thinking it will help or make some adword campaigns easier to find relevancy. I am sure with enough blogs though the backlinking could be a benefit.

    From our conversations in the past I am pretty sure you do things on your hosting plan as I do, which is we pay for one plan, and can run hundreds of sites via directories. Amazing how I see so many people buying and continuing to pay for multiple hosting plans when it is not needed (at least with stand-alone installs)

    Will be following your journey closely, I think I am really going to dig in Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, that way I won’t miss to much traffic if I screw things up.
    .-= Jay Myers´s last blog ..First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Extended for Military Personnel =-.

  13. It is interesting that you mention WPMU. I understand your frustration with it from an installation point. We were looking at creating an enterprise blog solution for all of the agents in our office and strongly considered MU as the back end. We liked the idea of a centralized and familiar interface and the initial vetting showed that the multi user / multi blog platform could be a strong solution.

    HOWEVER we ran into the same challenges of learning how to properly install and configure. We really had a tough time getting figuring out that we could not install (with ease) onto our exisitng hosting that runs our company site. The there were agent concerns about the impact of having their own unique domains was to daunting of a challenge. We were trying to do this as a favor to our agency but gave up te effort and let the corporate create a pay-for-play solution based on ASP language.

    The one thing I wish (like you said) is that there was better documentation for the install, but also better documentation of the limitation of MU> I feel that where I read, the notes and notations are all positive but fail to provide insight what MU does not do well. Running a platform for an entire office of easy to work with real estate agents – yes. Running a platform for agents that have such finicky needs that vary so greatly that they require one-off site builds – not so great.

  14. Hi,

    I have a domain name that I have been considering putting a WpMu on for some time but the fear of failure deters me. I have been googling things like wordpress MU simple install and tutorial and there is nothing that is in any way idiot proof which is what I need.

    Now that you have got yours up and running what’s the chance that you make a post with a simplified step by step install.

    By the way I host with HostGator which is great for regular wordpress but it appears by the lack of any mention of mu in their fantastico that they would rather if one did not install MU.

    I clicked the notify the follow up comments box so I guess I will be notified if you or someone else comments on this comment

    Thanks,

    Chris.

  15. LOL,

    Well, let me update you on WP MU. I deleted the entire site. Took it down totally. You are absolutely right, there was/is no easy staright foward way to setup WPMU.

    Here is one big issue with WPMU. Since it is multi user it is designed so users can setup their own account on their own. I never wanted that capability. For me it is just something to try and see if it would work for a clients future need. I could have played with it a little longer and tried to set them up manually, but didn’t really have time or any domains I wanted to play with to try it.

    I also had a site I wanted to setup on my Bluehost in a directory. But with MU in the root, I couldn’t get a stand alone install to go. It might be the htaccess on the root or something else, I don’t know. But after a lot of frustrating hours of messing with MU I desided it was time to FU MU and get back to WordPress as I know it. I can install a typical WP setup in less than 10 minutes. So why bother with MU.

    And the argument that you don’t have to waste time updating all those blogs when a new version comes out simply doesn’t hold water. It takes the push of a button to auto upgrade. That’s about 1 second of time. Compared to the hours I spent just trying to get MU installed and configured. And the expense of hosting for MU as it is needed to be setup properly far exceeds the monthly cost of hosting a typical WP install.

    So my advice. Setup WP for your blog and forget MU. And if that seems daunting, let me know. I setup blogs daily.

    Dave

  16. Hey guys, MU can be hard at times but if you have more than 6 or so blogs, it is a HUGE time saver. That being said, it\’s a non issue, WordPress 3.0 is rolling MU / Multi-site capability into the core and there will be no more MU. There are some sites running on trunk right now that have converted from MU….. so it only gets easier from 3.0 out!!!

    Dave, something else we talked a little bit about in your comments a ways out that is coming in 3.0 is integrated Menu integration…. which is HUGE! At least for me. 🙂
    .-= Trace´s last blog ..LeadPress + LoanSifter = Real Time Mortgage Rate Quotes =-.

  17. Trace,

    I knew there was something else I was going to add to that comment. MU integration is right around the corner. How that will all work will be interesting.

    That is one thing about WP I like, most things tend to get easier with every release. Integration of MU so it will work on a standard hosting install will be HUGE as you say.

    Dave

  18. Now that you’ve dumped MU, what about Buddy Press? I want to have multi-user capability on our blog so all agents at our brokerage can post articles there. Would BP for this application be very difficult?
    .-= Tony Green, Clemmons Realtor´s last blog ..Winston Salem Housing Market Slowly Rebounding =-.

  19. Tony,

    Buddy press works on MU only. But if you are saying you have one blog but many authors contributing to that blog, you can do that with a regular wordpress install. You don’t need MU or buddy press. Add each of your agents who will blog as an “Author” and they can have their own login and write as much as they want. Buddy press is more for a community forum within the brokerage than it is for authoring posts. (I know Buddy Press is much more than that)

    Dave

  20. Dave: Buddypress now works on single WP installs!
    Tony: Dave is right, you would only need MU if you wanted each agent to have their own discreet blog / website…. if you simply want them to be able to write on a single existing website / blog, normal WP can handle that.
    .-= Trace´s last blog ..What Mortgage Tools Do You Want to See Integrate With LeadPress? =-.

  21. Trace,

    That’s great, I stopped looking into Buddy Press when MU turned into such a debacle. It will be interesting to see how MU and regular WP integrating evolves.

    Now I’m interested again in Buddy Press. Here is what I’m looking for and you tell me if BP is the answer. I have a few non-profit organizations that want to have a membership section where everyone can have a bio and communicate with each other. Where committees can set up planning sessions where only the committee members have access.

    I know kind of sounds like G Wave, but that’s not really true either.

    Is BP something that would meet this need on a standard WP install.

    Dave

  22. That may be a situation where BP works, I would take a look at the demo to see if it offers what you’re looking for: http://testbp.org/
    .-= Trace´s last blog ..What Mortgage Tools Do You Want to See Integrate With LeadPress? =-.

  23. unfortunately, the cost of hosting is very expensive to build 🙁 any idea? Thanks sir!
    .-= Salehdbrent Sgdashhousedotcom´s last blog ..Start Sharing Not Selling =-.

  24. Salehbrent,

    I’m not sure where you are located, but hosting is not expensive here. I is one of the cheapest things for an online presence available.

    Dave