Pondering a move back to Movable Type (2)

September 08, 2006

Please read part one before reading the rest of this post.

Well, my half-hearted attempt at fooling around with Movable Type again didn't go too smoothly. The install was of course not an issue, but moving my entries over from WordPress most definitely was. I did actually get them moved over, but not without a lot of hassle.

Before I go further, I have to make note of the fact that importing/exporting between these systems (or any CMS-like system) is not yet standardized. Hell, it's almost like both pretend the other doesn't exist. I'm not ignorant of the pressures upon one system to not create an importer for other systems (competition, etc.), but at some point these companies just have suck it up and make it easy to share data between them. It's ridiculous. Wasn't XML supposed to swoop in and fix all this mess? Yes, but the magic potion can't work without an element called cooperation.

Getting the data into the right format

Movable Type makes it fairly easy to import entries from other systems by specifying a format for your posts that MT can understand and ultimately import. However, neither MT nor WP has an application to create the importable file from a WP installation. I'm still on the fence about whom the onus is on to create the "exporter," the importee or the importer, but, like I said above, someone just needs to step up and be the bigger man about all of this. It's not like any of it is rocket science.

I eventually stumbled upon a WP plugin that could put my WP data into an importable format. However, it broke and I'm not quite sure why. After hacking up the MT.php file within this package, I eventually got it to create a usable file that took into account both the fact that I don't use comments at all on my site and that I do use the "excerpt" field for my linked-list posts. There was also some code that stripped <br /> tags from posts and comments; I removed this.

If you've run into similar trouble, e-mail me and I'll send you my hacked file.

Importing the data into MT

After getting all of my posts exported to a usable file, I thought I was money. Eh, not so much. The MT import/export panel offers you two ways to import your file, but both of them failed for me. The first lets you upload the file from your local machine and the second allows you to put the file on the webserver and have MT pick it up from there. Both of these methods reported back to me that the file was too large. To be sure, I have a lot of posts (600+ regular posts and 200+ linked-list posts), about 1.5MB total, but I don't use comments at all and I know plenty of people who've many more entries than I.

OK, so, whatever, the file is too large. No problem. I just broke it up into fourths and from there the import went off without a hitch. However, there was just one more problem. I noticed that my basenames (i.e., the text, based off the title of each post, used to create the tail end of each post's permalink) were being clipped at 40 characters. After finding this new "feature" and increasing the number to 250 so that the basenames wouldn't be clipped at all, I realized that the change isn't immediately made to all the posts, and only applies to those entries created after the variable is increased. You have to re-import all of your entries for that change to take effect. So, I had to drop all the MySQL tables (to keep the ids as close to the number of posts as possible) and then go through the import process again. Ugh.

Now what?

I'm kind of stuck to be honest. I'll delve into this a little more deeply in part three, to come soon. Basically, I just don't think that DreamHost, my current webhost, will give me the CPU time I need to rebuild the entire site (at least not without using MT's dynamic PHP publishing system on my archives, which goes against the idea of keeping everything static, something I may or may not want to do again), and this could be a very big problem should I ultimately decide to move back to MT.

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