Whoops. I neglected to set up SMTP and my two contact forms (contact and mentoring contact) were not working. Just added in the Configure SMTP plugin and all is set.
I’ve finally done away with my ancient asp.net 2.0 thedatafarm.com that I hadn’t paid any attention to in many years and with it also moved my blog (an early version of graffitiCMS that was starting to act up).
Both are now set up as a WordPress app which was fun to configure with plugins and widgets and not too challenging since I have played with WordPress a bit on behalf of my mom.
So this will be easier for me to maintain and add in modern goodies like the social links.
I’m grateful to a number of people who’s resources helped or inspired me:
Picking a Blog Engine
Many folks on twitter recommended their favorite blog engine. I considered Orchard, the new Ghost blog and initially thought I did not want to use WordPress. My pal Daniel Marbach worked on me on twitter for a while, mystified why I was a brick wall about my anti-Wordpress stance. (He gets the last laugh!) Ghost is new. It will run on Windows Azure. But I was staying with orcsweb (via Cytanium) and that was not an option. Michele Bustamante is loving Ghost on her new site michelebusta.com. Sebastien Ros, from Microsoft, who works on Orchard, was very supportive, even offering to do the big 10 year, 4200 blog post conversion for me. In the end, Steve Smith said two words that swayed me back to WordPress: automatic updates. Yeah I love the ease of one button click wordpress and plugin updates.
Picking a Host
I’ve been very fortunate to have my site hosted by orcsweb.com for many years. While they are one of the highest-end hosts for ASP.net sites and pricey (but oh so worth it), they had offered me free hosting as a benefit of being an ASPInsider. Otherwise, it would have been overkill for my wee web site. But thanks to the gratis hosting, I get the benefits that orcsweb has to offer. Orcsweb has a spin-off company for people like me …don’t need the power (or expense) of the premier hosting, but still want the benefit of their experience, dependibility and great customer support: Cytanium.com. So they offered to host my site on Cytanium which also sports the Microsoft Web App Gallery for auto creating websites using frameworks like Orchard and WordPress. There are about 100 apps to choose from to install from the gallery. Setting up a new WordPress site was a snap.
Migrating 10 years worth of blogging
I have over 4000 blog posts and didn’t want to lose them. I found four resources that made this possible.
- Jef Kazimer‘s blog post on his Graffiti to WordPress migration was very helpful.
- Jon Sagara‘s Graffiti to BlogML tool. It’s just a small project that you can download and run in Visual Studio. I made one tweak to the code which was to handle some issues with the way it tried to emulate the blog URLs based on the titles. I had lots of quotations in those titles. In the end, I didn’t even need those URLs becasue I figured out how to get WordPress to format URLs just the same as they were formatted in the graffiti so my links should all (or mostly all) work. And I got the tool to create valid XML. I pointed the connection string to my sql server database and it processed all of the blog posts and comments in a matter of minutes!
- Once the posts are in BlogML format there is a WordPress plugin, BlogML Importer (which works fine with WordPress 3.8), that does the conversion.
- However it has a limit of 2MB file imports. Searching for a solution, I couldn’t believe that it was my own old Vermont pal, Dave Burke, who presented the solution Importing a Big Honkin’ BlogML.xml Into WordPress . I followed his instructions to a T and was able to pull in all of my posts and comments in 7 smaller files.
And some marketing
I left my blog in a /blog subfolder so that I can continue to have a main page on thedatafarm.com to let folks know that, as a consultant, I do like (and need) to work for a living. It is all just one big wordpress site. Well, really a small one. The other stuff, home page, etc , are just static pages.
I’m using a bunch of plugins. Since they are free, the least I can do is give them a nod:
Pete left a valuable comment that the hyperlinks were much too subtle in my blog posts. So I changed the link color to orange and its everywhere. It definitely stands out, though I doubt I’ll get a design award for it – just clashes a bit. Feel free to suggest a different color if you want!
Just had to share this funny comment that came through my other blog. Not as a comment on a post but from the contact form.
"hi dear kese hoooooo i learn C# but i can’t understand what should i do please tell me "
Yes, you are reading this on a dasBlog site and I love dasBlog, but I spent the Christmas holiday playing with the public beta of Graffiti and I really do think they have nailed it for a lightweight CMS/blogging system.
Out of the box, it is really simple to use, but don’t let it’s simplicity fool you. It is so customizable on two levels. For any end user, the widgets are fabulous and take no braincells to use. For those adept in CSS and HTML, the themes can be customized very deeply. The macros expose gobs of functionality and the views are really easy to leverage. I was able to give the site my own look by starting with one of the available themes, then replacing most of the image files that are used in the theme.
I believe that in using Graffiti, I’m getting a really good taste of either MVP or MVC here.
Also, the fact that you can just plop in an Access database (default) or other database without having to set up SQL Server if you don’t want to is a big advantage. This closes the gap between one of the important features of dasBlog – all of the content is stored in files so there’s no need to deal with SQL Server – and something like Community Server which requires a database. However, my blog is now made of up over 1300 separate xml files. This definitely makes me nervous. In fact, I looked at CS first, but was stopped by the fact that you have to host the database independently. I didn’t see a way to just add the tables and other elements into my existing hosted database.
I’ve been building something that is not even going to be used as a blog, but a mini-site where I can aggregate some particular blog posts and other content.
One tip regarding the Access database I can share is this. If you want to test Graffiti out locally and you are using Vista, there are a show-stopper issues with permissions to MDB files in IIS7. I spent hours trying to get around it and finally gave up. I was able to open and run it in VS2008 using the web development server instead. When I FTPd everything to my webhost (which means IIS6) there were no problems at all using the Access file. I ended up doing 98% of my customization on the hosted site anyway.
The DevLife blog posts for May 2005 – March 2007 are now being hosted on my personal site at www.thedatafarm.com/devlifeblog.
Thanks to everyone at Ziff Davis and Ziff Davis Enterprise for rescuing the old posts and allowing me to continue hosting them.
Ann DeMarle is the director of the Emergent Media Center at Champlain College in Vermont. She has started blogging at http://emergentmediacenter.blogspot.com and I look forward to her great insights!
I was honored to be invited by Ann to participate in a Degree Advisory Council for this program.
I spent a part of Thanksgiving day updating my blog to 2.0 (written in ASP.NET 2.0). One of the reasons was that my host (ORCS Web) has been having big problems with my blog app (not like I have the kind of traffic that Scott Hanselman gets on his dasblog blog), but still there’s enough and it was eating up server resources.
Rather than upgrading the existing site, I just created a whole new app in a temporary folder and then moved over all of the important pieces – content, images, configuration settings, etc. Once it was ready I had Pam at ORCS Web just change the folder names (not so easy on a running IIS website) and voila, blog now points to the new 2.0 blog.
Already I can tell a HUGE improvement in the speed of things (such as particular administrative tasks). Hopefully the server issues will now go away and they can move my website off of the server that problem sites are relegated to.
Just in time for ASP.NET 3.5! 🙂
verb: to manually aggregate selected blog posts
I actually used this in a sentence the other day. Egad!
My DevLife blog that has been on the DevSource blog since June 2005, has been consolidated wtih the other Ziff-Davis blogs onto Movable Type. The old blog was on an OLD version of .Text and the comnent spam had gotten way out of control. I asked if they could just update to Community Server, but it made a lot more sense to move me onto the same blogging engine as all of the other ZD bloggers. MT is so different to use and I will miss all of the great formatting features that I’m used to having easy access to in .Text and in dasBlog which I use for THIS blog. Oh well.
But the spam situation was unbearable and it was impossible to keep up wtih attempting to delete 100 new spam comments a day. We had to turn off the comments which also meant hiding all of the valid comments, too, which was a bummer.
Anyway, here’s the new blog: