For at least a year, I’ve been considering changing blog platforms. I set up my blog on TimMitchell.net using BlogEngine.NET several years back, a decision I made based primarily on the fact that this tool was built on ASP.NET and SQL Server as opposed to the LAMP platform used by WordPress, the real behemoth in the blogging world. I told myself that I’d be more likely to customize my blog if it was written in languages and tools I use every day as opposed to open source technologies that, while fully capable, aren’t in my wheelhouse.
However, it didn’t quite work out that way. While the idea of pimping my blog was (and still is) appealing, the fact is that I don’t have the spare cycles to work in a bunch of custom web development work. An.d while I’m not disappointed in the native offerings of the BlogEngine.NET platform, I quickly discovered that WordPress led the way in features and compatibility. Therefore, I decided that eventually I would like to move to WordPress.
Easier said than done
Who knew that it would be so much trouble to move blog platforms? One would think that, since we’re just talking about XML data, it should be easy enough to port from one platform to another. And it probably would have been, were I more well versed in the ways of XML. However, since I’m not, I went out to find some tool or utility to allow me to move all of my content to WordPress without having to do so manually. I found a few vague blog posts about how one *might* do this, but apart from doing a lot of manual data manipulation, there didn’t seem to be a silver bullet for solving this problem.
After some searching, I did find a CodePlex project named Blog Migrator that purported to handle migration from one platform to another. Although it didn’t work as coded – all Post ID fields were treated as integers in code, while BlogEngine.NET uses a character field – I was able to tweak the code to get the posts loaded from my BlogEngine site (via the export file in BlogML format) to my new WordPress site. Sadly, I couldn’t get the comments to transfer automagically, so I had to do some ETL to get them pushed over to WordPress. My blog categories also didn’t transfer, but I’m not sweating that now – I may go back later and migrate these (or just recategorize everything if I get really bored).
As part of this move, I also changed web hosts. I have been using SectorLink for several years, and apart from some recent issues with reliability and customer service, it has been a good web host for me. However, in moving to WordPress, I wanted to find a host that focused on that platform rather than a generic do-it-yourself site. I considered going directly through WordPress.com (and actually experimented with a free site there) but found that it did not offer a lot of flexibility in terms of adding new features. I heard good things about DreamHost, a service targeting WordPress users. I set up an account there, and found that they offered the structured system I wanted while also allowing for maximum flexibility (for example, I can add new plug-ins to my DreamHost site, which I could not do when using a WordPress.com hosted site).
It’s still very early in the relationship, and I haven’t yet had a chance to experience some aspects of DreamHost’s offerings (specifically, I’ve not yet had to contact customer service, an area where my last web host did not excel). But so far I’ve been satisfied with the features and documentation that I’ve found.
I’ve still got a few things to check on – for example, some of my older posts used a different image path than the newer ones, so I need to confirm that all of my images are showing up correctly. Since I’m syndicated on SQLServerCentral.com, I need to confirm that syndication is working correctly. If the worst happens and DreamHost doesn’t work out, I’ve still got my old site intact and can revert to that content in a matter of hours (as long as it takes for DNS to update). Hopefully, though, I’ll find that WordPress and my new host meets all of my needs.
I don’t really care for the WordPress theme I’m using, but it was easy to use and didn’t remind me of anyone else’s WP theme. It’s on my list of things to change, but I’m a function-before-form type so I’ll add this lower on my to-do list.
And of course, if either one of you loyal readers finds anything out of place due to the move, please let me know (I have a handy contact form just for that).