Why we’re using multisite and multi-network

I’ll just get this out of the way. We’ve seen Mika Epstein’s excellent WordCamp talk, “Don’t Use Multisite“. Despite her admirable, best efforts, we’re using it anyway.

To multisite or to not. This is something I have contemplated many times over the last six months as I have been working out our infrastructure. When the project was new, we just assumed it would be a massive multisite network with many, many sites within it. As the project became more clear and we learned more about WordPress, that assumption was challenged.

Do we need to have different themes on each site?  No.

Do we need to have different plugins on each site?  Maybe, but probably not.

Do we need to share content between sites? Probably.

So are we doing exactly what Mika says not to? Yeah, kinda.

So – why?

I think the best way I can summarize it is to say that we’re hedging our bets against an uncertain future, and against our inexperience with WordPress, with the most flexible configuration we can put out there at the outset.

Our initial IA calls for three major “buckets”, so we plan to have a site per major bucket. We see this as an easy way to keep anyone from having to dig through the entire intranet in the admin screen when they want to edit a page. In theory there’s a way to mitigate that issue without using separate sites, but we have no idea how to do it. Yet. So we’re taking the easy way. That’s our inexperience with WordPress.

This initial re-invention of the intranet? It does have a scope on it – only content that faces out to all employees. That’s going to be a job of work, and it’s going to take a while. But I will bet you just about anything that it won’t stop there. People at our company are rabid for WordPress. We will need to stand up another network for something, or another big-bucket site for something that is completely unrelated to our current project. That’s the uncertain future part.

Multi-network

Finding out about multi-network made the hairs raise up on the back of my neck. It seems to be tailor-made for our live and staging set up.  Thanks John James Jacoby for “Multisite and Multi-network“.

So we will have one network for our live sites. Multi-network means we can have another network with the same URL structure, with the exact same code, same users, running on a different subdomain. Nice. We deploy code changes to one place and staging and live both get the update at the same time.