Domain Names

dotCommunity offers all website administrators the ability to use an externally owned domain to access their website.

Initially every website created within the dotCommunity service is given a unique URL to address their website within the domain of the service provider. For example if a dotCommunity instance at the domain www.dotcommunity.org provided a website for an organisation called Cambridge Open Systems who chose the URL stub "cos", the full URL would be http://www.dotcommunity.org/cos. This would be the default way of accessing the site. However many organisations have their own domain which they would like to use for their dotCommunity website.

Setting up a dotCommunity website to use an external domain is a two step process:

  1. The dotCommunity service needs to be made aware of the external domain and which website is to be addressed by it.
  2. The owner of the domain needs to configure the DNS to point to the dotCommunity service.

You should complete step 1 first. dotCommunity will not start using the configured domain name until it detects that the DNS has been configured correctly. However, if you set up the DNS before configuring the dotCommunity service then the domain will return the service's main front page, rather than the community site.

Step 1: Configuration of the dotCommunity Service

An area (or sitewide) administrator has the ability to control the external domain setup for all websites within their responsibility. To configure a new external domain name select the Domain Names page under the Community Management tab, and click the Add Domain Name button.

The first part of the configuration involves selecting the community you wish to set up an external domain for. Browse for the website using the pagination controls and select it by clicking on its name.

After selecting the community you will be presented with a form field to enter the domain name that you wish to use for it. Enter the domain (e.g., "www.mysite.com"), and click OK. Use only the domain name. Do not include http:// at the start, and do not put / on the end.

You should then see the community and the chosen domain in the Domain Names list. See below for an explanation of the Status column in this list.

Step 2: Configuration of the Domain

Now that the dotCommunity service knows what to do with the domain name, the domain owner needs to configure the DNS settings for their domain to point to the dotCommunity service.

See the Domain Names section in the Community Administrators manual for details of how to configure the DNS.

Managing External Domains

To edit or remove an existing external domain configuration select the Domain Names page in the Community Management tab. To edit a domain mapping click the edit icon next to the community name. To delete a mapping click the delete button next to the domain.

Domain Name Status

dotCommunity checks the DNS of the configured domains and will not use any domain that is not configured correctly. Therefore it is perfectly safe to add a domain mapping to dotCommunity before you set up the DNS for that domain, and dotCommunity will start using it automatically as soon as you have configured it.

Each domain mapping has a status field to tell you if it is working. It can have one of three states:

  • OK - the domain mapping is configured correctly, and dotCommunity will use it to access the community site.
  • Lookup Failed - the DNS for the domain name has not been set up, or the domain has not been registered.
  • Wrong IP - the domain is set up, but the DNS is not configured correctly. dotCommunity will not use it until the DNS is set correctly.