WordPress

Today I migrated the site off of MovableType and onto WordPress. I had been wanting to do this for quite some time. The hurdle I had to overcome was porting the data from MovableType in such a way that permalinks wouldn’t 404. The first import utility I tried didn’t maintain the entry IDs stored in MovableType. At that point, it wasn’t important enough and I left it alone. I came back to it today, months later, when I went looking for a MovableType theme based on Twitter Bootstrap. When I didn’t find what I was looking for in MT, I found it in WP. Now I had to find a way to get the data across.

Movable Type Backup Importer

I found this plugin in the WP plugins directory. First thing is it used the actual XML backup file created by MT when you select backup and not just export. I had to fix a few ilegal characters that were in spam trackbacks before the plugin would import the data because the XML was invalid. I used a combination of Sublime Text 2 and Firefox (yes, I’m a Chrome user but Firefox does a more explicit job of pointing out errors in an XML doc) to clean up the XML. As for spam, I didn’t bother cleaning it up. I’m confident that the comments on the blog are mostly clean, and I don’t think trackbacks are were all that important.

Once I imported the data, the same issue persisted from the first time I attempted a data import; the IDs were reset on import. So, first thing is I touched base with the author of the plugin, rogerdudler. I then went off on my own to see if there was a way to allow this to work. As it turns out, there is. On line 2582 of wp-includes/post.php, the code comment was clear:

// If there is a suggested ID, use it if not already present

Armed with this new found knowledge, I went back to Roger’s plugin, and added

$post->import_id = $id;

after line 407. That was it. I used another plugin, WordPress Reset, to flush the database. The second import worked like a charm. The WordPress Post IDs matched the MT entry IDs. Almost done. WordPress is dynamic, and MovableType is static. Now, .htaccess and mod_rewrite to the rescue, and a setting change in WordPress, which I’ll get to in a second. Here is the .htaccess file

RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule ^archives/0*(\d+).html$ /archives/$1 [R=301,NC,L]
RewriteRule index.rdf /index.php?feed=rdf
RewriteRule index.rss /index.php?feed=rss
RewriteRule index.xml /index.php?feed=rss2
RewriteRule atom.xml /index.php?feed=atom

# BEGIN WordPress
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
</IfModule>

# END WordPress 

The first part is what I added, the latter being programmatically generated by WordPress. The setting change came in Settings>Permalinks. I changed the setting to Numeric in order for the links to be similar to MT, and I prefer a flat, static looking permalink. It seems more SEO friendly. After that setting change, everything appears to be working correctly. For example, if you Google “Avistar Sucks” the link is the old MT style until Google updates my permalinks. Clicking on it redirects you to the WP entry. By the way, did you notice the use of R=301 in the rewrite rule? By default, mod_rewrite would issue a 302, which is a temporary redirect. Search engines do not care for 302s. They want to see a 301, which is a permanent redirect. I learned about the 302/301 issue here. Let’s just hope I don’t mess up years of search rankings.

Markdown on Save Improved

While in the process of writing a spec for an app I’m developing at work to interface between SedonaOffice and eOriginal, I grew an affinity for using Markdown syntax. I use Scrivener to collect my thoughts, and then I can export to MultiMarkdown (a superset of Markdown). The ease of use is a huge effort saver. With that, I went looking for a Markdown plugin for MT, and I wasn’t happy with what I found. What I did find for WP was Markdown on Save Improved. It works well. As I understand, this plugin stores the Markdown and the HTML in separate columns so the Markdown->HTML occurs when the post is saved, and not for each request. Much faster that way.

The Bootstrap

My search for a Twitter Bootstrap theme let me to this one. It installed in a flash, and is using the reactive stylesheets. One quick install and my blog is all good for desktop, mobile, and tablet.

P.S.

Just as an aside, since I went live about 30 minutes ago, I already have spam comments to moderate. Oh boy.

  • blau

    Thank you for this post, I am migrating from an xml backup following your footsteps.

    As for permalinks, you could pick up any permalink style (e.g. date and post name) and redirect to the default wordpress ?p=1234 which then defaults to your chosen permalink style (e.g. /month/day/post-name)

    RewriteRule ^archives/[0-9]{4}/[0-9]{2}/0*(d+).html$ /?p=$1 [R=301,NC,L]

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=580992908 David B. Bitton

      Absolutely however I was always under the impression that search engines prefer to index links without query string parameters.

      • blau

        yes, nice catch. I don’t know which is best: an old permalink structure (archives/year/month/postid) that preserves former SE data, or a new structure perhaps more SEO friendly (/year/month/day/post-title) where old links degrade graciously.

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