October 01, 2006

WordPress Multi-User for Library Blogs?

My university has just released an extreme soft-launch of WordPress Multi-User for faculty/staff/students to use to set up their own blogs. A few of us immediately jumped in and started testing it to see if we could make it work for our library blogs, which currently run on an older version of Movable Type. Only a few universities like Minnesota and Michigan are offering this, and Arizona State is the large one I've found so far that's using WordPress' MU version. Way to go, ACS and IWDC.

I had never heard of the MU version until I started trying it, but I figured out pretty quickly how it differed from regular WP when I started looking for the link to customize my template and couldn't find it. MU is a scalable (as explained to us by one of the campus IT people) option for them to offer blogging capability to the campus. But it's not set up to allow individual blog owners to customize their own themes. You cannot change the CSS or HTML, nor can you make changes to the widget column. The widgets and their arrangement are pretty much set based on the theme you select. Of the available templates I only found one that was functional and professional-looking enough, but it's a color palette I wouldn't otherwise choose and looks nothing like the library website. At this time, it's just too locked down for us.

The updside: if we come up with templates that match our websites, probably by tweaking an existing theme out there, the campus IT group should be able to set then up for us to use on their platform. Actually, it'll probably be the other librarians in the group since going under the hood in MT or Blogger is challenging enough for me. But if we can make it work (and then create another theme to match the new website we'll hopefully have in a year), it means moving to a supported system that will be upgraded as needed.

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1 comment:

Mike said...

Actually you can modify the sidebar with the widgets plugin if you're interested.

I'm working on a CSS editor but it's kind of hard to find the time for it and there's security concerns as well. Security concerns are why WPMu doesn't have editors built in like regular wordpress does. It's too easy to hack if one had access to the files like that and that would place everybody's blog at risk.

For themes, take a look at http://themes.wordpress.net There's also theme packs over at http;//wpmudev.org

If you're interested, here's the API on doing custom header images. There's some discussion in the MU support forums about re-releasing themes with this built in along with other features like the widgets and others.

Hope this helps,

Wordpress Multiuser support forum mod