Domain of One’s Own 2.0: the Manatee Release


Domain of One’s Own, the distributed, web-based sea cow everyone loves!

In this wopping one hour and 26 minute video Martha Burtis and Tim Owens take you through two years of development on the UMW Domains project. It’s the most thorough record available of the work they’ve been doing since Summer 2012, and it traces the thinking, development, and deployment of how UMW is giving every student, faculty, and staff a domain and web hosting account of their own.

We understand that an hour and 26 minutes is a very long time, so we’re breaking down the conversation according to specific topics so you can watch what might be relevant for you:

00:01:26 – 00:10:30 Domain of One’s Own 0.5: The Alpha Pilot

Timeframe: Spring 2012 through Spring 2013

In the first part of the video Tim and Martha discuss the pilot of Domain of One’s Own. We start with some history. During the Fall 2012/Spring 2013 Academic year we used a dedicated server with MediaTemple (which uses the hosting control panel software Plesk) and also had them acting as our domain registry system. This method had us adding requested domains to a spreadsheet that we submitted as tickets to MediaTemple. This was how we signed up 420 domains during the pilot, but there was no question there would have to be another way.

00:10:31 -00:20:53 Domain of One’s Own 1.0: The Godaddy of EDU!

Timeframe: Late Spring 2013 through Fall 2013 (mid-October)

In this segment Tim and Martha narrate the development over the summer of 2013. Having gotten presidential funding to run a Domain of One’s Own at UMW for the next four years, the challenge of making this a manageable system that we could deploy to upwards of 1000 students, faculty and staff became a bit daunting. We moved to a dedicated server contracted through a state vendor and installed cPanel hosting control panel software as well as WHMCS, the software which enables management of the various shared hosting accounts. In effect, we were making the transition to becoming our own hosting service, and this section narrates the challenges, opportunities, and limits engineered into the process based on the software we were using.There is also mention of Installatron, a script installer that made much of the earlier work we did around the community site possible.

00:20:53 – 00:43:30 Domain of One’s Own 1.5: Red October

Timeframe: Fall 2013 (mid-October) through Winter 2014

Come Fall 2013 people are signing-up for domains, and we have all sorts of activity but no community. Martha and Tim start building out a prototype for the community site which hooks into Installatron. In turn, we are able to start adding the various sites’ feeds with specific tags and categories to FeedWordPress that would syndicate a representation of the community at large. The work during this period enabled dropdowns for selecting classes, their status, department, etc. We could effectively start adding metadata to a wide range of sites and posts across the university. It was the beginning of pushing this idea of simply being a web hosting solution to actually building a community out of the more than 820+ sites on Domain of One’s Own. This development carried over into Spring, and was really crystallized in mid January 2014 as we were all preparing to attend the Domain Incubator in Atlanta which was snowed out twice! This section features development like the D]directory of sites, the calendar of posts, statistics, and more elegant design. This generative period was also the beginning of Tim and Martha’s exploration of APIs, which changed our lives!

00:43:30 – 01:19:00 Domain of One’s Own 2.0: Manatee

Timeframe: Spring 2014 through Now

Tim and Martha fully realize the possibilities of make this project as simple, elegant and tight as possible. And the results are nothing short of amazing. In this section the discussion centers around some of the “pain points” in the workflow of Domain of One’s Own up and until now. One of the biggest was the various username/passwords for cPanel and WHMCS, not to mention all the specific applications (like WordPress, etc.) they install as part of their domain. Through enable single sign-on through Central Authentication System (CAS) and some real magic with APIs and FeedWordPress wrangling UMW Domains is truly a fine-tuned domain vending machine without the vending 😉 In effect, we are using the Domain of One’s Own main WordPress site ( as dashboard where they can create a domain name, access their cPanel, export all their files, unlock their domain, and manage their various sites, make them public and/or private, add additional sites to their account. etc. It’s truly amazing how tightly designed the Domains project has become thanks to the work of Martha and Tim.

01:19:00 – 01:26:11 Domain of One’s Own 3.0?: Let Us Help You 

Timeframe: The Future

How can we start sharing the Domain of One’s own infrastructure with whomever wants it? Imagining it as a Machine Image we can share on Amazon Web Services that can be accessed and customized by anyone interested. Tim also discusses how projects like Known start providing us with applications through Domain of One’s Own that empower us to push hard on further articulating the raison d’être for doing this in the first place: reclaiming who we are on the web.

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2 Responses to Domain of One’s Own 2.0: the Manatee Release

  1. Pingback: Domain of One’s Own, the distributed, web-based sea cow everyone loves!

  2. Pingback: Eight New Things that Rule about UMW Domains | bavatuesdays

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