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. http://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/blogs.dir/30/files/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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I am Jim Groom
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