Sharing SPLOTs Between Servers
During a recent trip to Colgate University (another post on that coming soon), Jim and I had a chance to meet with folks on the ground floor and discuss their visions for Domain of One’s Own at their campus. By the afternoon of Day 2, we were focusing pretty heavily on SPLOTs, a concept developed largely by Alan Levine and Brian Lamb. (He talks about them in depth here.) Though this is hardly a new topic of discussion, its brand new for this little web space so I’ll go ahead and explain: A SPLOT, or Smallest Possible Learning Online Tool, is essentially a template that can be added to a fresh WordPress installation. Think of it like importing demo content with a new WP theme, but it’s done automatically when you install WordPress. So for folks that have never used WordPress before, splots are a helpful starting point. They allow users to see the potential of their WordPress site before even beginning.
Here are a few examples of splots that Alan created, taken from our Demo server, StateU.org:
^Each splot is actually an individual install of WordPress aimed towards different uses: portfolios, course sites, class collaborations, archives of writing, etc. He configured each WordPress install with different sets of themes, plugins, images & dummy text, setting customizations, and pages & posts. Once complete, we were able to ‘save’ the install as a template that other users can see at the point of install. Below is a screenshot of a WordPress installation page where the user could install a number of templates or continue with a clean WordPress dash:
Upon showing this to the Learning and Applied Innovation Team at Colgate, they were thrilled and immediately began thinking of ways in which they could use this templated-splot idea on their campus, personalized for their community. Perhaps they could be organized for departments and/or majors? For instance, an English major looking to publicize his work may a text-heavy site. But a biology major may want to communicate her project findings to her classmates on a password-protected site without formally “publishing” the content for all the world to see.
This discussion was not only eye-opening for the folks at Colgate, but also for Jim and myself. Simply put: why aren’t more schools taking advantage of this? I’ll save my
rant ideas about this for another post, but for now I’ll take this post back to its original purpose: to share the steps I took to move Alan’s splots over to the Colgate server. It is their hope/our hope that this will give the newly appointed Domain of One’s Own Admins with a starting point for building out their own splots.
It was cool to begin to think through what this might look like since WHM doesn’t have a super seamless way to sync templates between multiple servers. In the event that splots continue to gain popularity at other DoOO schools, what would be the process for sharing these templates? What if a DoOO school has more than one server? Or what if University A wants to use templates that University B has created? Does someone have to manage the sharing, or can it be a ‘hands-off’ experience?
In no way do I claim to be the first to think of these questions (in fact, splot.ca already has a repository for a few of Alan’s splots) though the steps I took this morning definitely got the creative juices flowing. Here’s how I ended up sharing splots between servers:
1. Whitelist Demo server’s IP address on Colgate’s server
This is done in the ConfigServer Security and Firewall section of WHM. Quick Allow and Quick Ignore the IP address.
2. Copy Account from Another Server
In Colgate’s WHM, search ‘Copy’ in the left-hand search bar. Select Copy an Account From Another Server With an Account Password. Uncheck Restricted Restore, add the demo server’s IP address, along with the username & cPanel password of the account where the templates reside. Click Copy Account.
If all goes well, you will see the account transfer over on the next page:
3. Import Installatron Apps
Log into the Colgate server via terminal and type the following command:
/usr/local/installatron/installatron --send-update-report --user cpanelusername
^make sure to change cpanelusername to the account’s actual cPanel username.
4. Rename Account
Using this method, rename the domain name by clicking modify account in WHM. In this instance, I renamed it to splots.colgate.domains.
Now whenever Colgate admins want to create a new template, they can work directly in a splot-specific account that’s organized for their needs.
5. Making SPLOTs Live!
When the team is ready to roll out splots to all users on the server, they can do so by searching Installatron in the left-hand sidebar, clicking Installatron Applications Installer, clicking Templates, and then clicking create application template.
Search the new splots account in the search bar on the top right:
And simply ‘star’ the WordPress installs that you’re ready to make into templates.
Give the new splot a title & description, then click Template.
Now when anyone on the server goes to install a fresh copy of WordPress, they’ll have the option to install the new splot!