Multisite content management “done right”?

Author: Lee Aplin

Jobs board for the West Midlands, Jobplot is the latest site to be hosted on Dolphy, the CMS that’s been my labour of love since January. I took some inspiration from WordPress, but have tried to reflect the methodology of the Django framework – which the CMS is built on – rather than simply ape WordPress’ workflow.

Unlike WordPress MU and 3, which host multiple sites under the same web server “space”, with a few tweaks to server configurations, each Dolphy site – which is hosted alongside its sister sites and using the same database – occupies its own space in memory, which means if one falls over, it doesn’t take everything else on the “network” with it.

But while that’s been a core feature of the system almost from day one, what’s newly added is the ability to upload fonts in various formats, and for them to be readily available to the site (so a developer only needs to reference them in CSS), a much tidier and easier-to-use admin interface with handy dropdown menus, more flexibility for extension developers, and the beginnings of a (small) ecommerce system.

I’m also working, when I get the time, on a way of leveraging WordPress’ great enqueuing system, which means pages only reference bits of JavaScript and CSS when they’re used, so the browser only downloads what it needs, when it needs it. Although the system can now “minify” (combine and compress) JavaScript and CSS and “lazy load” it (so that it loads once the important stuff, like the page content has loaded), it’s been a bit rocky, and doesn’t work well when developers need to make constant tweaks to frontend elements.

I’ve learned bags of stuff since I started building Dolphy, and am still learning now. And with Birmingham’s biggest brain in programming (in the diminuitive form of [twitterer “chrisivens” “Chris Ivens”]) sat oppsite me, I’m picking up new skills to help improve, not only the CMS, but other projects written in Python, PHP and beyond.

The system’s still young, and although it hosts a few of my own sites, it’s still got its share of teething troubles, but as each new project comes along, we add more to the system and learn a whole boatload of new skills in the process.

But regardless of having a burgeoning but already robust CMS, there’s still no substitute for using WordPress for quick builds, or when it absolutely fits the bill (as it so often does). But with Django, Drupal (on which Chris is an expert) and WordPress at our disposal, we’ve absolutely got the ability to pick the right tool for the right job.

Here endeth the gushing.