Practical Content Management with Multiple Languages Using WPMU: Special Interview with BeeBole and the PURE Project

pureWPMU.org recently had the pleasure of looking in on the PURE project with Yves Hierneaux who agreed to answer a few questions about its use of WPMU. We were particularly interested in the launch of PURE, because it successfully leverages the WPMU platform as a project documentation site. If you have a similar use for WPMU, check out their process and recommendations.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about BeeBole and its involvement in the PURE project?

BeeBole is a web app that helps small and medium businesses to manage their timesheets, expenses and invoices. It is multi-lingual (English, French, Spanish and Dutch) and multi-currency.
PURE, which stands for Pure Unobtrusive Rendering Engine, is a piece of our technical infrastructure.
We wanted an engine to render HTML from JSON data that was really fast and unobtrusive.
As our search for one was unsuccessful, we created PURE, which rapidly became an open source project shared by many.

2. Why did you select WPMU as a platform for the PURE project?

We didn’t choose WPMU for PURE but for BeeBole (http://beebole.com/). 
Our web app is currently delivered in four languages and probably more soon. 
We needed an easy way to publish content in different languages. Still we didn’t want to create fully separated websites for each language and we didn’t want to create a monster of maintenance as our CMS system. 
Thanks to WPMU, each language website is a WPMU blog used as a CMS.
Wordpress core files, plugins and themes are shared (which means less maintenance for us), while we still have a lot of flexibility in terms of content for each website.
Till recently, the PURE website was still a mix of html pages, wiki (github), discussion group, etc … A reduced time for maintenance and the SEO facilities featured in WordPress triggered the move to our WPMU install.

3. How do you think WPMU measures up to other open source wiki platforms that are used for project documentation? 

Wikis are great tools but they’re too complex for the use we currently have for our documentation. 
With WPMU, we can easily manage the content of our websites and the documentation in one single place.
We don’t currently allow everybody to edit documentation, which is one of the main goal of a wiki, but the fact that it could easily be turned on thanks to the role/capabilities introduced in wp 2.0 was a also a major point.

4. How many regular contributors do you have using the site?

We have 3 frequent contributors.

5. I noticed that the “Discuss” tab goes to Google Groups. Why is that your preference over using WPMU or BuddyPress’ capabilities for discussing the project?

It is mainly for maintenance and participation reasons.
We tried bbpress but were not impressed by the community developed around the product until now.
Buddypress is very tempting.
We will not use it for BeeBole (we use Zendesk) but might consider it for PURE.
Still we haven’t the resources we would like today to really create a participative community around PURE, which remains a side project compared to BeeBole.
 

6. How is the PURE project site structured and through which avenues do your users contribute?

You have one WPMU instance on beebole.com.
From there you have 5 blogs used as CMS: 

http://beebole.com/en/

http://beebole.com/fr/

http://beebole.com/es/

http://beebole.com/nl/

http://beebole.com/pure/

Contributions for PURE are currently done directly via the PURE admin panel.
 

7. What plugins and/or customizations do you believe are essential for a wiki-style/ documentation website?

·      All In One SEO Pack (for SEO obviously)
·      Exec-PHP (to make sure you can use absolute URL’s in the pages)
·      Goole Analytics (to measure the way your documentation is read)
·      Google XML sitemap (for Google indexation)
·      Less Filters (to be able to easily add code in the posts/pages)
·      Yoast Breadcrumbs

8. What was your greatest challenge in using WPMU as a platform for the PURE project?

The use of WPMU for the PURE project has been smooth and easy.
The challenging part was to make sure that 1 single instance of WPMU could deliver a multi-lingual, multi-sites solution for BeeBole and PURE.
 

9. How much day-to-day maintenance does a project documentation website require and what kind of hosting would you recommend?

We have considerably reduced the time for maintenance. It is now less than a day per month for the technical tasks.
No preferred hosting. WPMU is very portable. Choose something with a good service.
 

10. Now that PURE is up and running, what are BeeBole’s current projects and plans for the future?

We will launch our web app BeeBole for a public beta very soon.
If you need an online tool to manage your timesheets, expenses and invoices in your language or the language of your customers, stay tuned on http://beebole.com/en/.
Yves Hiernaux

BeeBole:  http://beebole.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/YvesHiernaux
LinkedIn:  http://be.linkedin.com/in/yveshiernaux

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