Drupal and multi-sites – a brief introduction
18th December 2012
Drupal, a PHP-based open source CMS, has a substantial community backing it, so there is no surprise that it is always evolving and improving. Multi-sites is not a recent addition to Drupal, but still one well worth knowing about. Drupal multi-sites is what it sounds like: multiple sites running from a common core codebase.
Reading Room recently created two (soon-to-be-launched) sites, utilising the power of Drupal multi-site functionality. These two sites share the same core code, where the only distinctions between them are the theme and minor functionality differences. The advantages of this are: easy server management in one place for both sites; time spent on maintenance for core updates is halved and time spent creating additional functionality needed for both sites can be reduced. The only drawback for this approach is that both sites will suffer simultaneous downtime when updates are applied that require the sites to be down.
The ideal use of multi-sites is for multiple sites making use of the same functionality but each having its own theme and style. Examples of this would be a company running multiple campaign sites or multiple sites with a similar goal but targeting different audiences. Each site can have its own database and thus its own content and configuration, allowing authors to add to one site without affecting others, but what about user management?
There are two options for user management: keeping them separate, so a user would have to register on each site individually or, alternatively, users can be ‘shared’ between each of the sites. Sharing means creating an account on one site will allow the user to log in (or even be logged in automatically) using the same credentials on additional sites.
Multi-sites is one of the vastly powerful applications of Drupal, and one that should be explored seriously if the above sounds like just what you need.