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Hotaru Hosted: I'm Considering Modifying My Highly Customized Version To Allow For Other Domains

Discussion in 'Marketing Idea' started by valMETNG, Mar 29, 2015.

  1. valMETNG

    valMETNG Administrator Staff Member Admin

    I'm considering some significant changes to my already highly customized build and wanted to get the Hotaru community's thoughts and see if anyone would have any interest.

    Effectively, I'm thinking about modifying my environment to allow admins to use their own domains within my Hotaru code. In other words, an admin could create a domain (e.g., MyHotaruSite.com) and use my environment for the hosting. I'd have to customize my build to allow for things based on domain like:
    • different logos and site names in the header
    • limiting the posts returned for bookmarking_lists (e.g., /all, /popular, /latest)
    • limiting search results to the specific domain
    • limiting widget results (e.g., recent posts, latest activity) to the specific domain
    • allowing for customization of certain language variables
    Although I already allow community owners to make some .css changes (by adding their own .css code) and even allow them to also add some Javascript (e.g., if they want to include advertising), I'm not yet interested in making this vastly more customizable (e.g., changing the complete theme, adding your own plugins, changing PHP code for a specific domain). That would greatly complicate the effort required. Having said that, if you have customized code that you can't live without and I think it would be useful for a broader community, I would consider adding it to my core build.

    A few questions to you all:
    • Would any of you be interested in something like this?
    • If you would be interested in this, how much would you be willing to pay for such a service (taking into account things like you wouldn't have to pay for hosting anymore and wouldn't have to worry about fixing bugs/doing upgrades as that would be on me)?
    • If you would not be interested, is there anything that might encourage you to change your mind?
    • Thinking back to before you chose Hotaru as your platform, would an offering like this have encouraged you to choose Hotaru over other platforms?
    If you already have existing sites, I would handle the entire conversion process. (My build has significant changes and enhanced functionality which requires changes and additions to core tables.)

    This might be a way to bring more people into the Hotaru community - those who don't have the technical skills to run their own sites but are still interested in getting something going. I'd appreciate if you'd post your thoughts here. If you'd like to look at my site and discuss how you might be able to use it and what wouldn't work for you, please PM me. Thanks.
  2. shibuya246

    shibuya246 Hotaru Developer Staff Member Admin

    At one time, we did have a build that allowed for multiple sites to be run from the one Hotaru installation, like the old Wordpress MU used to work. Some of the code is still around, but it seemed most people preferred to make their sites a single website and if they needed more, just install extra Hotaru sites.

    I had originally come up with the idea of multiple Hotaru sites in 1 installation so that we HotaruCMS.com could allow people to create a Hotaru site without having to host it themselves. i.e. we would host it for them.

    There didnt seem to be much interest back then but maybe the peoples views have changed a bit now
  3. valMETNG

    valMETNG Administrator Staff Member Admin

    There are still many out there looking to start websites but don't have the skills. So they go to places like WordPress or tumblr who make it easy for them (and even free). Hotaru, as it currently stands, isn't really conducive for that market. Although my custom build is more tailored for that market, it still lacks features this market would like (e.g., having your own domain name). That's what led me to the idea.

    Additionally, I've noticed there are still many forums out there that use very old forum software. If we could find a way to make it somewhat easy for them to transfer their communities to Hotaru, that would also encourage growth. I've customized my build to better accommodate this market too, but they still are going to want to keep their domain name and limit what users see to just their community.
  4. valMETNG

    valMETNG Administrator Staff Member Admin

    I'm not there yet, but making pretty good progress.

    One of the features I'm adding is SSL/https for custom domains. Major providers like tumblr and WordPress don't allow admins to add SSL, so I'm going to. Because my site already requires SSL to login, I'm currently modifying code to let admins provide their own SSL certificates. Admins can still use their own domain names if they don't provide SSL certificates, but users won't be able to login or do any kind of transaction (e.g., vote, post, comment, moderate) from their domains. They will only be able to view what a logged out user can see. Without SSL, they will have to login via my domain.

    I'd like to know if anyone would be interested in helping me test this functionality and offering suggestions on what else you'd like to see. You would need your own domain name and would simply need to point your nameservers to my host. It's not required that you have an SSL certificate but, if you do, you'll be able to test more. (And there are plenty of places to get free, temporary SSL certificates.) You would be testing in my development environment - not my live site.

    Would anyone be interested in helping test and offering suggestions?

    Also, I'm trying to decide if there should be any policy for which SSL certificates to accept once this moves to production. For example, I likely would reject any certificates that don't have a duration of at least 1 year. Any security/SSL experts who care to suggest what appropriate policies should be?
  5. valMETNG

    valMETNG Administrator Staff Member Admin

    Done :)

    I just rolled out the new customized domain functionality on my site and I'm pretty pleased if I do say so myself. Effectively, you can now run your own customized blog or forum using my Hotaru build (at a fraction of the cost because you don't need a hosting provider, and without any technical knowledge). If you'd like to check out the blog post about it, please PM me and I'll give you the link.
    carlo75 likes this.

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