WordPress Installation – First impressions

I took advantage of this long Memorial Day weekend and installed WordPress 1.2 on my server. I am not a disgruntled MovableType user or anything ? In fact, I am a very happy Blogger user and have been using Blogger since June 2000. With all the attention WordPress has been getting lately, I decided to give it a whirl and see what it’s all about.

In addition to my primary blog, I have two other blogs that I maintain for other content using Blogger. One of the blogs was just created to maintain a list of stuff I wanted to read but didn’t have time at that particular moment. I have taken advantage of Blogger’s email-to-blog functionality to just email content I wanted published to my must-read blog. The other blog was just personal, non-technical ramblings to offset my technical ramblings on my primary blog.

Back to WordPress ? I downloaded the installer and unzipped it on my server. The installation process is very easy and a simple modification to point to my mySQL database was all that was required. Once I have updated the wp-config.php file with the correct database information, I fired up the installer by launched wp-admin/install.php. I love the 5-minute installation guide on WordPress. I wish all software packages were this easy to install. The install.php page went through and created all the appropriate database tables, users and you are ready to go. The blog engine is installed and you can start posting. I literally had the whole thing running in about 4 minutes and this was the first time I had installed WordPress. Great job Matt, Mike, Dougal, Alex, Michel, Ryan, Cena and all the other contributors to WordPress.

Once the blog was up and running, I played around with the settings, templates, etc and got everything working and looking the way I wanted. Then came what I thought would be the hard part – Importing the existing content from Blogger into this new blog. Much to my (pleasant) surprise, importing content was incredibly easy with the bundled Blogger import utility. WordPress includes a PHP page, import-blogger.php that walks you through the import process. The import process involves modifying Blogger’s template to this little snippet provided by import-blogger.php, modifying the data/time string and then republishing the content in the new WordPress directory. Once Blogger republishes the content in this new directory, the import-blogger.php page continues and sucks up the content and slams it in the database. I was able to successfully import about 100 entries from my 2 Blogger blogs into WordPress. The only thing that took time was going in and adding category metadata to the imported content as they all fell into the default ?general’ category. This is a deficiency of Blogger and not WordPress ? Blogger doesn’t support categories for blog entries at this time.

All in all, this was a very enjoyable experience and I didn’t have any problems. I am still learning the ins and outs of WordPress and will find ways to screw up things, but I am not there yet. ;-)

As I was importing my Blogger content, I had an idea on how I could contribute to WordPress. I’ve written a little standalone Java utility to downloaded my Blogger entries using the new ATOM API for local backup purposes. I could enhance that utility to not only download the Blogger entries, but also insert them in the WordPress database directly. I can get fancy and make this a web application that will show you all the content that is about to be imported and you can select categories for content, etc, but that would require Tomcat at the very minimum and I’m sure that is a no-no for most people as most ISP’s don’t offer Java support. I guess I’ll enhance my standalone program and run it by the WordPress dev team to see if there is any interest. In the meanwhile, check out my shiny new WordPress blog @ https://www.j2eegeek.com/life/.

I am now thinking about importing my primary blog into WordPress and the only reservation I have is the permalink issue. I have tons of in-bound links to content from the outside and while I don’t want to duplicate content, I also don’t want people to get 404’s. I’m sure mod_rewrite can do the trick here, but it’s something to think about. If anyone has any clever ideas, drop me a line.