Best way to automate domain mapping?

I've been struggling to get Domain Mapping working, but it may just be a DNS resolution issue, but perhaps not. It has, however, got me thinking...

What is the easiest way to automate the procedure for users to map a custom domain to their subsite with a member base that is, shall we say... less than technically inclined?

The vast majority of our members don't know DNS from LOL. If they register their own domain, they will most likely not have access to cPanel, let alone know how to add A records. We might only be able to walk them through editing any DNS settings their registrar provides. 1and1, for instance, only allows editing names servers or CNAME for registerred domains.

With this type of user base, I'm wondering if I will need to park domains in our cPanel account and manually manage any domain mapping. In which case, will I have users edit the name server setting at their registrar like I have for all our domains. Or do I just charge more, and register domains for them too? What are other Super Admins put there doing?

We have our own box, but host multiple multisite installs, so the IP is static, but shared among all our networks, if that makes sense. I've search these forums, but am still seeking some "best practice" advice to offer domain mapping on Pro Sites of various networks we host.

The only link I really have to share so far is http://veganize.us which I hope should be mapping to http://sandbox.agreda.com sometime soon... I'm guessing some of the confusion getting this to work is because I do have a hosting account for veganize on our box where agreda is also hosted. Next step will be to register another domain to test this from the user viewpoint.

Thanks in advance for any help.

  • aecnu

    Greetings jcnjr,

    Concerning the automation of Domain Mapping and the pointing of the "A" record to your installs IP is really going to be up to you and your client and whom or how it will be done will also depend on capabilities as mentioned above.

    From a technical standpoint having them park them at your name servers is probably the best idea leaving it up to you to point it forward, all you need to do then is point it correctly after making sure it is resolving to your DNS Servers. I do not think it could get much simpler then that with the exception of you registering the domain for them and pointing the name servers to your DNS servers etc.

    Regarding the current problem you are having with http://veganize.us resolving to http://sandbox.agreda.com, since you indicated that it is a site already on your server that means it is being intercepted by the httpd.conf file or the vhosts.conf file before DNS even has a chance to send it to http://sandbox.agreda.com

    This site http://veganize.us will have to be completely removed from the server and then just the "A" record added so that it will perform as expected resolving to http://sandbox.agreda.com

    Cheers, Joe

  • jcnjr

    Thank you for the quick reply Joe. Your explanation of what's going on with the sandbox domain I mentioned makes sense and is about what I suspected. I'll be registering a new domain to test my mapping procedure before launching this new network.

    Before I do so, could you please clarify something since your "parking" comment was a bit confusing...

    having them park them at your name servers is probably the best idea

    Do you mean point them at our name servers? If a user registers their own domain, they have no way to park a domain, but can only point them to our name server. I would have to park the domain they register via my cPanel account.

    Based on what you explained, please confirm if this method will allow me to offer custom domains:

    1. User registers on our WPMS network and creates site at username.mymaindomain.com.
    2. User Registers domain at registrar of choice.
    3. User edits domain settings at registrar to point their custom domain to our name servers.
    4. I create a new parked domain via cpanel and point it to the root of our network install.
    5. User adds their custom domain in Domain Mapping section of their site admin settings.
    6. User's registered custom domain gets mapped to username.mymaindomain.com.

    Make sense? Am I missing anything?

    Final question: Are there any issues with this working on our server that has one IP address shared among all our various WPMS installs? I plan to add Domain Mapping to various networks we host and hope to just replicate the steps above for each main domain & cpanel account.

  • jcnjr

    I'm still waiting on the DNS update of a new domain to resolve our name servers to test this further. But in the mean time I've been reading up on Donncha's original Domain Mapping plugin.

    That appears to have a setting for just adding a CNAME record in the plugin admin for the primary domain of the network install. Presumably, then all the user has to do is point their custom registered domain to this CNAME domain via the DNS settings at their registrar. The docs for this plugin have no mention of the need for parking domains or any other back end configuration required. That would be just grand.

    As much as I'd like to use the WPMU Dev plugin, I'd really prefer to not have to muck around in cPanel every time a user wants a custom domain.

    Can anyone who has used the WordPress MU Domain Mapping plugin confirm if the method works I described above.

    Or, is there any plan to update the WPMU Dev Domain Mapping plugin to provide the CNAME/domain option so no IP addresses or parked domains are required? When we offer domain mapping for Pro Sites, I would hope there could be a way for the user to map their custom domain quickly without waiting my intervention.

    Thanks again.

  • jcnjr

    UPDATE: After having our server guy reconfigure our DNS cluster, we've got the Domain Mapping plugin working to resolve custom domains pointed to our nameservers.

    My only request at this point would be an option to customize the message on the plugin admin page for sites who want domain mapping. Currently you can only add the IP address to this message:

    If your domain name includes a sub-domain such as "blog" then you can add a CNAME for that hostname in your DNS pointing at this blog URL.

    If you want to redirect a domain you will need to add a DNS "A" record pointing at the IP address of this server: 69.174.245.203

    This will just confuse most of our users, not to mention be moot since we need just to instruct them to point their DNS settings to our nameservers at their registrar.

    Adding the option to point via CNAME to the root domain of our network (like donncha's plugin) would be icing on the cake.

    Thanks for the consideration.