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Suggestion: cleaner FTP user and domain directory structure.

Discussion in 'Plesk Automation' started by GregorL, Dec 2, 2011.

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  1. GregorL

    GregorL Basic Pleskian

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    I gave tech support a first tour of MSP to get some feedback.
    One major consensus was that the current structure of FTP home directories and domain document roots is problematic.

    Current Situation:

    - Enduser creates subscription
    - chooses "Use an existing domain name"
    - enters sdgashdjgasjhd.com as domain name
    - order gets processed
    - Result on Webserver:
    - Directory "/var/www/vhosts/sdgashdjgasjhd.com" gets created as the FTP home directory for a random FTP username
    - Directory "/var/www/vhosts/sdgashdjgasjhd.com/httpdocs" is created as Document root for the website.

    Pros:
    This is basically a good idea since the End-User has great flexibility to for example change the FTP Username
    or we as admins can now easily move domains between accounts.

    Cons:

    - MAJOR: User adds multiple domains within ONE subscription and now wants to delete the domain that he originally used for the subscription. This is impossible.

    - The FTP username was chosen randomly and the end-user will most likely contact support to find out what it is.
    - Click Add New Domain in the "Websites & Domains" Tab
    - enter "seconddomain.com"
    - Document root "site1"
    This creates a subfolder under sdgashdjgasjhd.com named site1 which now is the document_root for seconddomain.com
    - So in this example, the document root for seconddomain.com is:
    /var/www/vhosts/sdgashdjgasjhd.com/site1
    From the feedback I received, this will create a support nightmare.
    To make it even more complicated to the end-user, you can add a new subscription to your current account containing let say the domain thirddomain.com then you end up with this new directory structure:
    FTP Home: /var/www/vhosts/thirddomain.com
    DOC_ROOT: /var/www/vhosts/thirddomain.com/httpdocs

    Again, great flexibility but for the enduser and tech support this gets very complicated.

    Suggestions:

    I noticed in MSP there is a unique SubscriptionID for each customer subscription.
    So, would it be possible to name the FTP Home directory for example:
    /var/www/vhosts/#subscriptionID#
    then make the DOCROOT for each domain like this by default:
    /var/www/vhosts/#subscriptionID#/domain1.com
    /var/www/vhosts/#subscriptionID#/domain2.com

    OR:

    I also noticed a uniqe clientID in MSP.
    You could maybe create this directory structure:
    FTP Home for Panel user: /var/www/vhosts/#ClientID#
    FTP home for subscription user: /var/www/vhosts/#ClientID#/#subscriptionID#/
    Document root for domains examples:
    First Subscription:
    /var/www/vhosts/#ClientID#/SubscriptionID1/domainone.com
    /var/www/vhosts/#ClientID#/SubscriptionID1/domaintwo.com
    Second subscription:
    /var/www/vhosts/#ClientID#/SubscriptionID2/whatever.com

    This way, the main FTP user gets access to everything and they can create Sub FTP accounts to lets say access everything Subscription2 or access just one domain in subscription two.
    It would greatly match the wonderful User account system you have in place within MSP already.

    what do you think :)
     
  2. Andrew Andriatis

    Andrew Andriatis Regular Pleskian Plesk Team

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    Hi, Gregor,
    Thanks for a very useful input. I will talk to Plesk team to see if we can make the file structure configurable, or at least selectable from a number of suggested predefined variants. A few questions though.

    1. Why are you saying that the FTP username/passwords are randomly selected? Users can always set them in their control panel. Isn’t this sufficient? Would it help if the subscription letter sent to the customer would also have the clarifications about the FTP account – current and how to change it?

    2. This is true that in Plesk it’s impossible to remove the main domain of subscription. But you can always rename it. Why this isn’t enough?

    3. With multi-domain subscriptions we were trying to resolve the need of having multiple sites controlled by a single FTP account. You are saying that this should be brought even to the higher level and let a user having a single FTP account for all customer subscriptions. I think this will not work when different subscription of the same customer are provisioned on different service nodes.

    Regards,
    Andrey
     
  3. GregorL

    GregorL Basic Pleskian

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    Hey Andrew,

    On a new subscription, the FTP Username in my tests looks like this:
    sub3_83
    for example.

    For me as a technical person, no problem.
    However, for the average end user who can barely signup for a hosting account, this seems very confusing.
    99% do not read the welcome letters sadly (but yes, it would be nice to have change instructions in there and F.Y.I currently in the Beta the FTP username is empty in that email)
    So, the first thing they would do is FTP using the username/password they just created during account signup.
    Then they contact support asking why the username password does not work which created an unnecessary support ticket and frustration on the endusers part.
    So, at least for the initial subscription it would be nice to use the MSP account username/password for FTP as well (at least as an option, the host can decide what they want to do)

    Actually, I did not realize that you can just rename the domain :)
    Again, this is a great flexibility you are providing!
    One problem would be the fact that they might setup 5 domains and suddenly insist on DELETING the first domain which is not possible. (I think only due to the directory structure, once you correct that, you could easily have them delete the initial domain)
    Second, maybe just a rename/replace button ? somewhere on the "Websites and Domains" page.
    In addition, maybe a check if the domain the enduser is renaming it into does exist or needs to be registered?
    I see users changing their domain name to anything not registered and then asking support "I renamed my domain three days ago but it is not working why? :)


    I again agree with you from our technical point of you this would work just fine and I for sure like the flexibility of the pathname not containing a FTP Username.
    However I have to look at the experience that tech support has with end-users.
    The AVERAGE end user is one person managing multiple websites and would be saying "Why do I need all these usernames and passwords?"
    So I was hoping that at least within ONE subscription the FTP username/password could stay the same (optionally for the host to decide?).
    If the user is more advanced, he/she can easily setup FTP sub accounts when needed.

    Now, regarding multiple subscriptions: I think you are right, maybe they should not share the same FTP user.
    The only confusing part I see is that if an existing user creates a second subscription it does not ask for a new username/password. So again they would be wondering what is my FTP username/password and maybe even "How to login to my new subscription".
     
  4. GregorL

    GregorL Basic Pleskian

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    I just realized, regarding 3.) you ARE leaving the FTP username/password the same for one subscription.
    Sorry about that!

    So really it only comes down to the Directory Structure.
    If you could somehow create a domainname independent FTP home directory for a single subscription, that would really solve this issue for us.
     
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