Jan 11

Migrating Clarity Blogs to WordPress

After quite a long time using Community Server, we decided to look for a different option. There were a number of reasons. We have been running on Community Server 2007 for a couple of years now and the latest products from Telligent weren’t really going in the direction we wanted. We were also looking for something with a lot of community support and relatively easy way to customize. Even though we all write code, we would all rather spend time writing blog posts than customizing our blog engine. WordPress offers a rich user community with hundreds of plug-ins to choose from and relatively easy theme support. We are mainly a Microsoft shop though, so many of us aren’t as comfortable with PHP and MySql as we are with ASP.NET and Microsoft Sql Server. When we found out about a group at Microsoft that had gotten WordPress working on Sql Server, we decided to take the plunge.

It wasn’t super hard to get WordPress up and running. The regular WordPress branch boasts a 5 minute install and they aren’t kidding. It took a little more time to get the Sql Server branch working, but that was mainly figuring out which build to use and that sort of thing.

The harder part was migrating a ton of content from Community Server. Fortunately some brave souls had gone before and I found some good blog posts on how to do it. I still found the process to be rather tricky and it required a lot of trial and error. The best approach seems to be using the standard BlogML format, which WordPress DOES NOT support natively as an import format. I ended up using Keyvan Nayyeri’s Community Server 2007 BlogML converter code. It didn’t quite work for all of our posts out of the box, mostly due to a lot of code samples and that sort of thing, but fortunately he provided the source code and with a few minor tweaks I was able to get it working for 99% of posts. This converter exports all posts and comments for a particular blog, including author information.

Once I had that working, I was able to use the great instructions from Aaron Lerch, who wrote a WordPress BlogML import module. I ended up using the revised version from Rob Walling,who also has a great post describing his blog migration. Thanks to all these developers for building these tools and providing insight into their experiences.

Once the basic process was figured out,it was basically just a matter of setting up WordPress. This took a decent amount of time because a) we have a lot of bloggers and b) I didn’t know much at all about WordPress when I started. Like I said before, there are so many people using the platform that you can find information on almost anything, including the best plug-ins to use or how to do various administrative tasks. We also had to figure out how we wanted to structure things from a navigation standpoint. We have a mix of a main Clarity blog along with some individual blogs for more prolific bloggers.

Special thanks to John Regan from our design team for doing a lot of work on our custom theme. Michael Greenlee also provided some PHP and WordPress knowledge when I was lacking, which was often.

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