The Story of the Blog Move

January 2nd, 2010

Filed under: None | 6 comments

Normally I write about technical topics like Xcode, Mac development, SDL, and game development. But I am in the midst of a 30-day trial of MarsEdit, and I can’t think of a good technical topic right now so I am writing about my experience moving my blog to WordPress.

What I Was Using

For the past 18 months, I used RapidWeaver’s blog software to create the blog. RapidWeaver is a Mac website building application for people who want a good-looking site without having to hand code HTML and CSS. The biggest advantage of using RapidWeaver’s blog software is the blog matches the look of the rest of the site. But RapidWeaver’s blog software has two disadvantages.

First, the entire blog is treated as a single page. When you add a new post to the blog and export it, RapidWeaver creates the entire blog, not just the parts that changed. If your blog has a lot of posts, creating the entire blog every time you add a post is wasteful.

Second, RapidWeaver blogs do not provide navigation links to read older posts. Suppose your blog has 50 total posts and displays 10 posts per page. Someone visits your blog, reads the 10 most recent posts and wants to read the next 10 posts. The visitor can’t do that. All he or she can do is click archive links to read older posts.

I could live with these two weaknesses, but I encountered a third problem. When I created the blog with RapidWeaver, HaloScan was the built-in way to add comments to the site. HaloScan was purchased by JS-Kit. They are currently in the process of discontinuing HaloScan, moving them over to Echo, their new commenting system. Echo is not free, and I didn’t need all of its features so it was time to move on.

Finding a New Commenting System

Because a blog without comments isn’t much of a blog (I can write articles on my site if I want to share information without comments), I searched for a new commenting system. I found two systems to examine: Disqus and Intense Debate.

Disqus and Intense Debate had instructions on adding it to blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger, but no RapidWeaver instructions. They had code to embed into a blog, but I couldn’t find a place to place the code in RapidWeaver.

I decided to see if there were better blogging solutions, and I came upon WP-Blog, which is a plug-in that lets you use a WordPress blog that matches the look of a RapidWeaver site. So I decided to try WordPress and WP-Blog.

Installing WordPress

Installing WordPress was very easy for me because my web host has support for Fantastico. Fanatastico lets you perform a one-click install of WordPress. The only thing I had to do was rename my old blog directory on my FTP site because I wanted to use the same directory for my WordPress blog.

After installing WordPress I logged into my WordPress account. From there I could access tools to import old blog posts to the WordPress blog. I used the RapidWeaver blog’s RSS feed to import my posts. As a bonus, I was able to use the Blogger import tool to import the posts from my old Blogger blog. It even imported the comments from Blogger.

The importing went well. The images from the RapidWeaver blog were missing, but I expected that. I didn’t have too many images to upload so it wasn’t a big problem. There were some line spacing issues importing the Blogger posts, but the posts were readable.

One last thing I did was change the permalink structure. The initial permalink structure is to use the post number like p41 or p92. I wanted more meaningful names so I changed the structure to use the month, year, and title. But this caused a problem because I didn’t have a .htaccess file in the blog directory. I created one in a text editor, pasted the code WordPress provided, and uploaded the .htaccess file to my site.

Installing WP-Blog

At this point I had my WordPress blog working, but I was using the default theme, which didn’t match the look of my site. I had to install WP-Blog. I copied the plugin, WP-Blog.rwplugin to the following location:

/Users/Username/Library/Application Support/RapidWeaver

After copying the WP-Blog plugin, I opened my site in RapidWeaver and added a WP-Blog page to my site. I opened the page inspector and configured the blog, including setting up the following information:

  • The location of the blog
  • The date format
  • The number of archive links to show on the sidebar
  • The location of the search field
  • The RSS feeds
  • Whether or not to allow permalinks
  • Whether or not to allow comments

When I had the new blog set up, I exported the page. The export created four items:

  • A files folder
  • An index_files folder
  • index.html
  • index.php

I uploaded the files folder, the index_files folder, and index.php to my site, and my WordPress blog looked like the rest of my site.

Conclusion

So far I’m happy with the switch to WordPress. I have a blog that matches the rest of my site, has comments without my having to install a separate commenting system, has navigation links for older posts, and has search capabilities.

Update

I did not make myself clear when I originally wrote this post because I keep getting questions about commenting systems. I use the built-in WordPress commenting system.

I have not used or installed Disqus, Intense Debate, or any other commenting system. Because of this, I cannot answer any questions about what commenting system is best or answer any question about installing Disqus, Intense Debate, or any other commenting system.

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6 thoughts on “The Story of the Blog Move

  1. Sebbe says:

    Hey,

    I’ve got WP-Blog, too.
    But my problem is, I can’t log-in with my Disqus Account at the wordpress Plugin Configuration Page.
    If I enter my Log-in data i get “unexpected error”. I hope you can help me and sorry for my english – I’m from germany ;)…
    I also can’t log-in with polldaddy.com – but maybe that’s another problem….

    Hope for help =)

    Greetings
    Sebbe

  2. Sebbe,

    I had all sorts of problems logging in when I tried to install WordPress plug-ins automatically from WordPress. I gave up and installed the plug-ins manually by downloading them to my computer and uploading them to my site by FTP. I know my answer does not provide a solution for you, but I know the pain you are going through.

  3. Sebbe says:

    Hey,

    I don’t know what I should do :(…
    I also uploaded disqus manually to the FTP Server, but there is still the same problem…

    “Unexpected Error” – If I insert my account details.
    What is my mistake?…

    Hope for help 😉

  4. Mark Szymczyk says:

    I have never used Disqus so I do not know why you are getting errors. Disqus and WordPress have support forums. I recommend asking your question on their forums.

  5. Rohan says:

    Hi Mark,

    I came across your post while doing a google search on disqus commenting and RW. I am just setting things up in RW and for now have decided to use the Disqus commenting system.
    No matter what I do, I am not able to get the commenting system to “look right” on my blog. Its a photo blog with just two blog posts on it right now (www.rohangupte.com). the main landing page will take you to the photo blog. Problem is that Disqus shows up correctly on the main landing page but if you click on the image itself, you will go to the next image from archives and this is where things start to look like being broken for the Disqus commenting block.

    I am like you and think that there is no fun in running a blog if you dont have a solid commenting system. This reason alone is gravitating me to switch to WP to get that seamless experience.

    Would you mind sending me a quick note to share some of you experiences in moving things over to WP? I am new to RP, dont know much about how WP on a RW site works, etc. But am willing to learn stuff to make my site look and work the way I want it to.

    Sorry for the long post.

    Cheers,
    Rohan

  6. Mark Szymczyk says:

    Rohan,

    I moved to WordPress 18 months ago so my memories of the move are not fresh. The post covers most of my experience moving the blog over to WordPress. If you have a question about something that I did not cover in the post, send me an email. I have a Contact link in the sidebar on the left side of the blog and the rest of my site.