Thursday, 10 March, 2005

Converting to WordPress

Absent any huge surprises during the conversion, I've settled on WordPress as the content management system to replace CityDesk for the production of this site.  After looking at many different packages (see February 10 and January 18), I realized that no matter which one I choose I was in for a lot of work getting it to look the way I wanted.  WordPress released their new 1.5 "Strayhorn" version shortly after I'd looked at initially, and I found that version to be much cleaner and easier to use than any of the other systems I'd evaluated.  The lack of documentation still troubles me some, but the Codex and the support forums are very informative.

For me, the most difficult part has been modifying the default site template to fit my needs.  I'm a complete novice with PHP and cascading style sheets (CSS), so making changes was very frustrating.  A couple days' study and playing around, though, and I have a decent template.  Now I have to finish up the program that will clean up and convert my 1,000-plus Random Notes entries to a format that I can import into WordPress.  I thought I could use their RSS importer, but that won't convert all my links.  The URLs to the articles and the images will change with this conversion, so I have to write a program that will fix them before the import.

I'm doing all this work on my SuSE Linux test server here at home.  Once I get it all done I'll install WordPress here on the site, copy up the new template, and then convert all of my pages.  It's going to take a few more weeks of my limited spare time, but when I'm done I'll be able to post entries online.  I'll also be able to change the look and feel of the site without having to regenerate every single page.

If you're looking to start your own blog, or if you want to convert your existing FrontPage, Dreamweaver, or whatever to an online tool, I strongly recommend WordPress.  It'll take you a little time to create a template and convert your old entries, but I think it's worth the trouble.