Porting bavatuesdays to a mapped domain on WPMu

I have spent the last few days porting a stand alone WordPress blog with over 800 blog posts, 75 videos, countless images, and PHP executed in several posts (not to mention the over 35 plugins) to a mapped domain on a WPMu installation. This is something I have been dying to do, and I have finally made the plunge. I followed the steps outlined here to map the domain on WPMu and create the site. The actual porting of data from an existing site to WPMu is something I hadn’t done before, and now that I am beginning to emerge from it I have learned a bunch of things along the way. So here they are in no particular order.

  1. The WordPress Import/Export feature sucks. I say this because I originally tried to export my blog using the WordPress eXtended RSS (or WXR) export feature which, in fact, is not really XML, and would drive people like Patrick crazy for good reason. Point is, on more than a few occasions now when I have tried to modify this file to update files and URIs (more on that shortly) and import it to the new blog I get an error message. In short, this feature is extremely buggy, unreliable, and when it does work you quickly realize it didn’t export your blogroll along with a few other features. Moreover, the current version of the WP exporter converts all the tags in your site to a numbers, the fix is here, but this is a major oversight in my mind.
  2. So, the shoddy importer forced me to actually modify and import database tables which is not fun for me. (I used phpMyAdmin and I’ll include a write-up of the steps I followed for dumping and inserting tables into WPMu in my next post.) One advantage of this method was that I got a clean SQL file from the existing database with all of my blogs deepest secrets, not just the erratic data that comes in with the exported WXR file.
  3. The SQL dump of my blog’s database was also key because it allowed me to update a number of URLs that need to be changed. One of the things that scared me about porting the bava to a WPMu installation was the fact that the directory structure in WPMu is different than a single WordPress blog. For example, a regular WP blog has a file structure like this:
  4. https://bavatuesdays.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/02 (for files uploaded in February, 208)

    Whereas WPMu has numerous blogs all of which have their own uploading space, so each has it’s own unique directory path for uploads like the following:

    https://bavatuesdays.com/wp-content/uploads/uploads/2008/02 (which is really a re-write of this absolute path .../wp-content/uploads/2008/02)

    So, every link to an image, video, mp3 file, etc. in the single WP that was located in the /wp-content/uploads/… directory path had to be found and replaced with /files/uploads/ which was pretty easy to do with the SQL data file thanks to the sage advice of the CogDog Blog (does he have an appreciation society yet? I think we need to get on that!)

  5. Once the links to images, videos, and audio were renamed, I had to deal with the fact that a good number of my posts were running PHP within the actual post or page. This is easy to do in a single installation of WP with the EXEC-PHP plugin, but has traditionally failed in WPMu. Well, very good news EXEC-PHP version 4.4 now works with WPMu, at least it does on my install. This is pretty major for now the WordPress SimplePie plugin works along with a host of other custom hacking that was limited to templates only up and until now.
  6. Some other good news is that plugins I had some issues getting to work on previous versions of WPMu (such as PodPress and WordTube) are now fully functional. And while I don’t use PodPress much (Anarchy Media Player is far easier) , wordTube has become my new old obsession. I had used the WP-FLV plugin for most of my videos for upwards of a year, but making the switch forced me to abandon this plugin because it uses custom code that WPMu rejects. I am rather glad I did because wordTube gives me the possibility to create dynamic playlists of videos on the fly, upload videos quickly & easily, and simple inline posting options, all of which has me thinking I might start the laborious process of archiving every external video I have linked to on services like Revver, YouTube, etc, and store them on my blog through wordTube, just in case these videos should ever disappear 😉 The effect of such a reality with WordPress means that creating a bare bones, personalized Digital Asset Management system has never been easier.
  7. Another annoyance was that some special characters like accents and tildas were screwed up in that move, so I still have to look out for those over the next few weeks. I have a number of them and names like Totò look like TotAioA or something similar, that pissed me off. Anyone know why this happens?
  8. Finally, if you use Alex King’s WP Mobile Edition theme/plugin for your blog and, like me, forget to upload it to your themes directory (in my case I have Userthemes installed and didn’t copy the Mobile theme over) the site will disappear in my specific case (for I didn’t copy over any other theme but K2 to my userthemes file) or continually go back to the default theme if you are using a system theme. This foum post explains that when someone hits your site from a mobile device and the WP Mobile Edition theme is not available the entire site reverts back to the default theme. Bizarre, I know, but it seems to have been causing my issues, and I was pulling what few hairs I have left out trying to figure out where I went wrong. Given that, I hope this helps anyone who might have run into this problem.

There is probably more I can say, put I think that’s all I have in me for now. And despite some setbacks, I am happy to report that as of yesterday bavatuesdays is now part of a larger WPMu installation that will be hosting at least eight different mapped domains. And this is really the future of my thinking about WordPress. Mapped domains and a more dynamic CMS style of WordPress across several sites excites me to no end, this is a tool wherein a more sophisticated, user-friendly social site can be created across several domains affording both community and unique identities. But, more on that soon….

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11 Responses to Porting bavatuesdays to a mapped domain on WPMu

  1. Sören says:

    Hi there, I am suprised that Exec-PHP is now working with WordPress MU because I didn’t change anything. Seems the developers did some justifications to the MU code. Congratulations on this.

    6.) This may because of different character set encodings between your old and your new blog. Just this weekend I have helped a friend of mine to convert his database tables to the proper encoding. The point is, that if you are using WordPress since version prior of 2.2, your database tables are most probably encoded with MySQLs default setting of ‘latin’. Usually that’s not what you want. You may want to have ‘utf8’. If your new tables are utf8 encoded but you haven’t converted the database content, then extended ASCII characters will mess up the blog.

  2. Tom says:

    After all that, still feel you’re “just a used car salesman?”

    You got mad skills and most importantly the desire to share them.

    Face it.

  3. reverend says:

    Sören,

    I was very happy to see that we could finnaly run your plugin with no issues in WPMu. It saved me a ton of work template hacking 🙂 More than that, the work you have been doing on the latest versions of this plugin is absolutely amazing. The options tab that defines user privileges and the additional options of PHP in Text widgets is pretty phenomenal, so thank you for all your hard work.

    Also, my database tables were in Latin, so that is definitely the problem. I guess the fix is as easy as switching the text formatting to UTF-8, a painless fix for anyone else who is going through this process.

    @Tom,

    You wanna buy a watch? 🙂 With your mad skillz I got a lot of keeping up to do. nohing like i little push to keep me on my game.

  4. Greetings, Mr. Groom,

    RE: “After all that, still feel you’re ‘just a used car salesman?'”

    Holy Crap! I can buy a car on the bava?

    Man, this is a full service blog!

    RE: “all of which has me thinking I might start the laborious process of archiving every external video I have linked to” — what’s your tool of choice? The FF browser plugin, or something like javimoya.com or keepvid.com — It’d be sweet to be able to do this via some type of automated process.

    Cheers,

    Bill

  5. reverend says:

    Bill,

    I am currently using the Video Download Helper (a FF extension): https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/3006

    I wonder if there isn’t a script one could run to process all the YouTube video on your site though this tool on TechCrunch: http://www.techcrunch.com/get-youtube-movie/

    Wow, I agree with Chris Lott entirely, it’s nice to know a guy who can both think through edtech and program like a champ. I’m always out of my league here.

    On another note, does it strike you as odd how nice we are being to one another? It almost seems like the world is out of kilter. So in the spirit of returning to the natural order of things: how’s the dynamic subdomains and domain mapping going with Drupal 6? 🙂

    You know I love you, have fun at DrupalCon! A sure fire indicator you haven’t seen the light just yet, you are making the reverend work harder than needs be.

  6. Hello, Jim,

    RE the niceness — I think we’ve opened a new chapter 🙂 I tell you, I’ve been thinking about your eloquence (and yes, that is the *exact* word I’m looking for) during the session we did at NV — when you were describing the teaching and learning going on in the WPMU install, it was pretty amazing stuff — the passion, the clarity, and the great examples. I love you too, my friend — I just might need to fire up a WPMU install and see what all the commotion is about.

    RE bulk harvesting of videos: I’m curious what could be done with installing the FF browser plugin, and then feeding it a bunch of Goo-Tube urls. I bet we could make something work, at least in batches of 10-20. That might be easier than working directly through an external service, particularly without access to an API.

    RE: programming — I actually don’t write code — I am, however, incredibly fortunate to work with two amazingly talented developers, Marc Poris and Jeff Graham — they write the code that makes it possible for me to talk.

    RE: your own chops — Good Reverend, you do yourself a disservice. You have some mad skills, and your ability to tie the technical innovations into the service of teaching and learning is uncanny. This also gets back to the eloquence piece — you describe the connections incredibly well.

    RE: Drupal and domain mapping — Drupal has supported a multisite feature for the last several years, since at least 4.5, IIRC. It works best on linux-based systems, and once you have the DNS info and the Apache settings worked out, you can set up multiple sites off one codebase pretty easily. The thing that’s nice about it is that you can have a core set of modules and themes used in all sites, and then add particular themes and modules on a site by site basis. It’s all handled via the magic of the “sites” directory, and a symbolic link.

    Cheers,

    Bill

  7. reverend says:

    I just might need to fire up a WPMU install and see what all the commotion is about.

    Are you already drunk at Drupalcon? Did you follow your own margerita recipe I heard you give Friday night? It was very strong, which may explain the craziness above! Hmmm, I wonder if they are gonna have a twittervision up or something liek this so I can show it off to all the folks there 🙂

    I would be more than interested in exploring that YouTube arhiving in 20s or 30s option. I was wondering if there might be a way to scrape one;s site fro YouTube URLs and then run them through that tool on TechCrunch, that would make it simple, but I am just imagining here. If you want to talk about a test soon when your done in Boston, let me know.

    As for the eloquence, Brian nailed it when he quoted your part of the session which was dynamite and on the mark: Why aren’t schools using this? That is the point, and you and D’Arcy nailed it beautifully. It was an honor to present with you cats, and given Brian sent the audio and no one has posted the session just yet, I may give it a loisten again this week and reflect on it more, because it was the best session i have to be a part of because everyone did their own thing but we gelled like a smooth set of edtech improvisers. It was a blast, Bill, and I am certain it is only the very beginning of a long, fruitful series of collaborations. Long live EDUGLU!

    Finally, how did I know that Drupal has already been there and done that. If the future works out as I expect it might, I may have a chance to run the two (WPMu and eduglu drupal) in tandem, which will make for me having to start moving away from the tool discussion I cget so much base joy from :0 Enjoy Boston, and I’ll be looking for your updates on Drupalcon.

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