Multiple Blogs vs Multiple Users

members.pngBlogEngine supported multiple users as far back as I can remember. But what people really wanted was multiple blogs on the single application install. So that hosting company, for example, can install application and provide free blog to everyone buying hosting space. Having multiple users not helping here, it just not the same. And at some point BlogEngine went all in and added multiple blogs feature. It did it by allowing basically replicate entire blog structure as many times as needed, including membership, in every child blog. So right now we have multiple blogs, each with multiple users, custom roles and elaborate access right permissions for every user. This is nuts.

I mean, yes, it is great. Enterprise class great - but that requires enterprise class support. With teams of developers, testers and trainers. And enterprise requirements - editors writing posts, managers approving, subscribers reading etc. We basically trying to compete with SharePoint here. And it starts to hold development back, because security hooks are all over the place and in the way. You should account for user permissions on the back end, making sure user can select/update data, on the front end to decide what should be displayed, and everywhere in between. Testing it is a nightmare. And it makes code very hard to change and maintain. Worst part, I have serious doubts anyone utilizes it to its full potential, because it is not your typical blog environment. Yes, Wordpress went through similar transformation - but they do have teams of devs and testers and probably can't afford to scale down due to huge client base and will have to carry this forward. BlogEngine doesn't have to and can take advantage of this.

I think ideal blogging application should support two basic use cases:

  1. Single user blog, out of the box, plain and simple, with great UX. Most people want just that.
  2. Multiple blogs on the same install. Turning application switch "on" allows multiple blogs run side-by-side.

The key difference from multiple users is that every blog is self-contained and blogger has full access. No roles, no permissions. It is your blog, you own it, period. This removes most of the complexity and still allows multiple people to use application. So if you want a blog for a sport club, school or any kind of community - that works just fine. And much easier to setup and support, no need to explain levels of permissions and differences in the roles. It should remove much of the headaches from both bloggers and developers. Even as it might impact some people relying on current membership structure, I believe this change will make positive effect overall. And set up application for much needed future enhancements.

It is not an easy decision, and upcoming release will still support multiple users. But it will hide user maintenance by default, encouraging multi-blog over multi-user solution. And when in not so distant future version 4.0 will make some big breaks, ending multiple user support will be one of them.


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