WordPress 2.7

Image representing WordPress as depicted in Cr...

One more post before I retire with my head cold, a hot drink and some episodes of The Dead Zone to lull me to sleep.

*cough* *hack* *ill noises*

I just have to say a huge “Well Done” to the people who worked on WordPress version 2.7. Simply, it’s a masterpiece. I’m sure there are little bugs that some people will have found, but frankly it’s a stunning piece of work and a huge jump up from 2.6.

Anyone still running an older version, I urge you to upgrade. OK, I accept some plug-ins may break if you do (the “tables” one I used heavily in the 1000 Mile Walk Blog will, hence why that’s still back on an old version) but otherwise make that move.

Everything is so much more professional. The layouts are drag/drop so you can customise what you see and when you see it. Each time I log in I find another little feature I’d not spotted which makes me giggle with glee.

The one that prompted me to post this (finally) is the horizontally shrinking menus on the left. I often use my laptop or a 14″ / 15″ monitor (some of our resort machines are a little dog-eared) to edit, so any extra screen real-estate width-wise is a boon. If you’ve not noticed it yourself, check the little dot and line under the Dashboard and Comments buttons. Click there and the menus drop to icon-size; roughly a quarter the width they were before.

I’ve liked WP since I started using it, but this is just stunning. And free.

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(Blogger and) Haloscan to WordPress

Blogger (service)

That’s what I typed into Google to find the plugins and instructions to get my old Haloscan comments over into this blog. And seeing as Babs asked, I thought I’d rattle off my version of the transfer – including the hiccups I had and how to get around them.

I started with around 900 posts on Blogger and 4500 comments on Haloscan (ah, for the old days when I was popular)! Haloscan is a free service, and works pretty well after some wobbly periods bad in the day, but I just liked the new functions I can get on WordPress with easier control over the comments and so on. As an aside, I highly recommend the Subscribe To Comments plugin. Works a treat and, despite what it says on the WordPress archive it is fine on v2.5.

OK, so we’re moving from Blogger and Haloscan to WordPress. There are things that you must have – settings, versions and so on. I’ll assume you’re moving to WordPress 2.5 as it’s the current release. Anyone using a wordpress.com blog will be using this by default as they upgraded recently. However… you won’t be able to transfer your Haloscan comments onto a wordpress.com-hosted blog as far as I know. I’ll explain why later.

Step 1 – Prepping Blogger

First of all, ensure you’re using “new” Blogger. Virtually every Blogger blog is now on this. It used to be called Blogger Beta. If for some reason (or somehow) you’re not running this version then check the Blogger online help for details of upgrading. It’s quick and easy.

I was publishing my Blogger blog to my own webspace. This is not the default setting for Blogger, which is to publish to a Blog*Spot address. This Blog*Spot setting is required for transfer due to the method WordPress uses to syphon your posts out of Blogger. Just go to Settings and Publishing on your Blogger blog and ensure you’re publishing to a Blog*Spot address. If you’re not, then change it. Any name will do for the address – it’s temporary after all. Don’t worry, this won’t affect your posts stored on your FTP space if you’re doing that – you still have all that in place as a backup.

The instructions I read also told me to change the Timestamp Format in the Formatting section to be “mm/dd/yyyy” – apparently the default. I think this is only relevant for older versions of the import as I left mine on “hh:mm” and had no problems.

Two other settings which must be configured are as follows:

  • Archiving / Archive Frequency must be “Monthly”
  • Archiving / Enable Post Pages? must be “Yes”

The latter one got me for ages as I tried to figure out why I was only importing one post from each month…

Step 2 – Importing Blogger

Next, you go into your brand new empty WordPress database and use the Import facility. Follow the instructions in there and it should be nice and simple. All your posts magically drag over. Do check them once they arrive, though. Some things may be broken – such as internal links. It’s highly unlikely that the links direct to pages that worked in Blogger will also work in WordPress. Also, some formatting may be off, although WP2.5 does seem to handle embedded YouTube videos (for example) where earlier versions didn’t.

Step 3 – Prepping Haloscan

First off – as mentioned above, if you’re using a wordpress.com-hosted blog, then you cannot do this. Stop now. You can continue to use Haloscan, but starting from scratch comment-wise. Your old comments will be there, but you won’t be able to access them via the blog interface. I will now explain why.

To import the comments, you need to use a plugin. You cannot install your own plugins at wordpress.com, or in most other ISP-hosted solutions which use WordPress as their blogging platform. It involved admin access to certain folders which they simply won’t give you.

To configure WordPress’s imported posts to link to the existing Haloscan comments on Haloscan, you need to run queries on the internal database structure – and also run a plugin. Again, you simply won’t be able to do this.

The only way to manage these two options (I’m covering the former) is to host WordPress in your own webspace on your own server, or at least to one where you can get administrative access in some way. Sorry, but I think this rules Babs out!

I mention this now as you have to spend real cash money to get your comments out of Haloscan. They charge $12 per year for an upgraded account, one benefit of which is being able to download your comments as XML files. I thought this was decent value. After using them for maybe 4 years or so, that’s barely $3 per year as a goodbye present. Of course, if you already use the upgraded service then this isn’t a problem and you can go ahead and download.

Each 1000 comments comes down as a single file. Download as many as you need and number them so that it’s obvious they are different files. The order doesn’t matter so long as you make sure not to overwrite any!

Step 4 – importing Haloscan to WordPress

Your next step is to visit Justinsomnia’s page and download his excellent utilities for dragging your comments over. There are two steps: getting the post IDs from Blogger and then importing the comments from the files downloaded above.

As an aside, this is the reason you can’t just plug Haloscan into WordPress and have it viewing all your old comments connected to the same posts. When you import from Blogger, the “new” WordPress posts each get a unique ID numbering from 1 upwards. Similarly, on Blogger, each new post gets an ID. The thing is, these numbers will be wildly different and based on them being unique amongst all Blogger posts. As a result, your Blogger post 1075543567465125 (for instance) could well be number 23 in WordPress.

Haloscan used the PostID to reference “conversations” of comments, so by moving that post from one site to the other, that link is broken. One way to fix it would be to drag the numbers down from Blogger and update the equivalent ones in WordPress with their “old/original” values. I don’t have a plugin for this, but it’s a moderately simple piece of SQL code once you’ve run the first part of Justinsomnia’s routine. Then continue using HaloScan as if you’d never stopped.

But this post’s about bringing everything into WordPress, so we continue.

Following the instructions on Justinsomnia’s page, first install the get-blogger-post-ids plugin and run it. This scans your Blogger blog and takes those PostIDs I mentioned, clagging them onto a table within WordPress where they’re associated to the dragged-over posts.

The last stage is to import the actual comments. The important thing to mention here that’s not included in the original instructions is this: if you have more than one XML file of comments to import, then do them one at a time or you will get errors.

import-haloscan.php is not a plugin, instead running as a standalone file. Upload it into the wp-admin folder as instructed and also upload your first XML file (not all of them!). Run the PHP script and you should find your first 1000 comments dragged in quite quickly. Delete that XML file from the server and replace it with the next. Repeat as necessary.

And that should be it. Once you’re done, you can disable and delete the get-blogger-post-ids plugin, and erase the import-haloscan one.

Job’s a good ‘un. And it works. As you can see.

It’s all change…

This is the final one of my blogs to be transferred from Blogger to WordPress. And the biggest headache as I needed to get all 4500 or so comments across from Haloscan. I think I’ve got everything. Posts and comments all seem to be intact, so I now have to start the donkey work.

Any broken links will be attended to as and when I can manage it. If you spot any, please do let me know. I’ll get a “contact me” page up shortly for those who don’t know my email address, or just post a comment on this page.

Also, I know the layout’s a bit poop but my main concern was getting all the data over. I’ll glitz things up, apply a better theme and replace all the gadgets soon. Ish. Work’s about to get very busy for a week or so, so it’ll be around that.

As ever, comments welcome!