Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

Hosting more than one WordPress blog on your website

12th March 2008

An idea recently popped into my head for my hillwalking website: collecting a listing of bus services of use and interest to hillwalkers. Being rural, these services may not get the publicity that they deserve. In addition, they are generally subsidised so any increase in their patronage can only help maintain their survival.

Currently, the list lives on on several pages page in the blog but another thought has come to mind: using WordPress to host the list as a series of log entries, a sort of blog if you like. Effectively, that would involve having two blogs on the same website it can be done. One way is to set up up two instances of WordPress and they could work from the same database; the facility for this is allowed by the ability to use different table prefixes for the different blogs so that there are no collisions. There’s nothing to stop you having two databases but your hosting provider may charge extra for this. This set up will work but there is a  caveat: you now have two blogs to maintain and, with regular WordPress releases, that means an extra overhead. Apart from that, it’s a workable approach.

Another option is to use WordPress MU. That would cut down on the maintenance but there are costs here too. It’s need of virtual hosts is a big one. If my experience is any guide, you probably need a dedicated server to go down this route and they aren’t that cheap. I needed to do a spot of Apache configuration and some editing of my hosts file to get my own installation off the ground; I don’t reckon that would be an option with shared hosting. Once I sorted out the hosts with a something.something.else address, set up was very much quick and easy.

Apart from a tab named Site Admin, the administration dashboard isn’t at all that different from a standard WordPress 2.3.x arrangement. In the extra tab, you can create blogs and users, control blogs and themes as well upgrade everything in a single step. Themes and plugins largely work as usual from an administration point of view. With plugins, you have just to try them and see what happens; one adding FCKEditor threw an error while the editor window was loading but it otherwise worked OK. I had no trouble at all with themes so all looks very well on that front.

Importing and editing posts worked as usual but for two perhaps irritating behaviours: tags are, not unreasonably, removed from titles and inline styled and class declarations are removed from tags in the body of a blog entry. Both could be resolved by post processing in the blog’s theme but the Sniplets plugin allows a better way out for the latter and I have been putting it to good use.

In summary, WordPress MU worked well and looks a very good option for multi-blog sites. However, the need for a dedicated server and the quirks that I have seen when it comes to handling post contents keep me away from using it for production blogs for now. Even so, I’ll be retaining it as a test system anyway. As regards the country bus log, I think that I’ll be sticking with the blog page for the moment.

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