Multisite management

Vanilla’s cloud solution offers a number of configuration settings for enterprise-grade deployments.

Deployment Types

Single Community

This is a classic forum setup. It is the equivalent of 1 installation of forum software. It can have any number of categories (what other products call “topic areas” or “forums/subforums”) arranged in a hierarchy. Each Single Community needs a domain or subdomain assigned.

The Hub

A Hub is a community mothership. Setup one community as a template, then create Nodes that are copies of this setup. Each Node is a Single Community with the added ability of being synced with changes made on the Hub. Each Node is otherwise independent from each other - separate user lists, private message exchanges, and activity streams.

Each Node is accessible via either a subdomain or a subfolder off a domain shared by the whole Hub. This is called the Hub URL Format. For example, the “muffins” Node in the “bakery” Hub might be accessible at the URLs “”, or “”, depending on the configuration. Only one type of Hub URL Format is supported per Hub.


A subcommunity artificially divides a Single Community or a Node into different areas by making each of the top level categories into subcommunities.

Each subcommunity (and it’s top level category) must have a unique URL path prefix. For example, an English language subcommunity will have the the URL prefix of /en/. So the english subcommunity of would be available at

While in a subcommunity, categories and discussions will be filtered to that subsection of a forum. Category Lists, and the Recent Discussions page will be filtered to only show content from that subcommunity.

All subcommunities are still part of a single “instance” - the user list (and therefore moderators / admins), private messages, and activity stream are shared across all subcommunities. For a more detailed list of what is and is not shared across subcommunities see the Shared Content list in our Subcommunities document.

A common way of combining this feature with the Hub is to create a Node per product, and use subcommunities for each locale within that product.

Architectural considerations

Cluster management

Our physical server assets are arranged into clusters. Each cluster can hold many Single Communities, or a single Hub + its Nodes. They cannot be mixed.

Scaling capabilities

Because each Node is a separate entity, there are significant scaling advantages to choosing a hub setup over a single community + subcommunities setup.

Suggested setups

For small-to-medium sites, use a single community. Add subcommunities for multi-locale support or to combine several micro-forums into a single instance.

For very large or franchise sites, use a dedicated Hub with a Node per locale. This provides maximum scaling potential.

Embedding (iframes)

While we do support robust embedding (iframe) solutions, we strongly recommend avoiding it whenever possible. It drastically increases project complexity and negatively impacts user experience with longer page load time.

SSL certificates

We will need SSL certificates that cover all potential custom domain names. For Hub setups, this generally means a wildcard certificate. See our documentation on providing SSL certificates.

Additional Resources:

Cloud Hosting

We believe that online communities should be intuitive, engaging and true to your brand. Vanilla allows you to create a customized community that rewards positive participation, automatically curates content and lets members drive moderation.

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