Conversion Done... so far, so good.

So the conversion from .Text .09x to DasBlog seems to be complete. First, I started with the most recent version available on the SourceForge project site (currently 1.8.5223.2).  The conversion of posts mostly went just fine. To create the DasBlog content files, I used the RSStoDasBlog.zip project from Scott Hanselman’s site. After downloading the old site’s feed as XML, this utility went through and created all the dayentry.xml files that DasBlog needs. The trickier parts were in the details:

  • I switched over to using FeedBurner to handle the aggregator feeds. It’s free, provides some good stats, and was an easy switch to make. DasBlog’s configuration allows you to specify a FeedBurner URL and will automatically serve that up whenever a request is made for the site’s feed. This was super-easy. You can subscribe to the feed with feed://feeds.feedburner.com/JeffDonnici Subscribe!.

  • I created a new file at /Rss.aspx, which was .Text’s old feed URL. The new file, simply provides an HTTP 301 redirect to the new Feedburner feed. This will ensure that any feed aggregator’s subscribed to the old .Text feed get updated to the new feed. This was also very easy.

  • Then it became a manual thing… the conversion process doesn’t do anything with post categories. I actually like DasBlog’s handling of categories in that you can easily create them on the fly (as opposed to having to go to a separate Categories management page in the admin site). Unfortunately, the only way I saw around this was to go through old posts manually and apply the appropriate categories. I’m sure there’s a way to do this en masse, but it’s a one-time thing and writing up a script or utility to do it would have taken longer than the manual route.

  • The next manual part involved going through any old posts that referenced other posts. In cases where I had a post that referred to an older one, I updated the URL for that reference to use the new DasBlog permalink. I also updated the few posts that had images or downloadable files on my server… under DasBlog, I wanted to use its content/binary folder so that backups of all content are a single-step. Here again, I’m sure there’s a better way to do it, but it didn’t take long and is a one-time thing.

  • That brings me to external links… Google, other blogs, and various wikis have links to the old .Text archives, which are now gone. I’m not sure what (if anything) that can be done to handle those… short of some sort of hard-coded 404 error page that has all the old URLs and their new URL and then handles the redirection. I know Google will update over time, but it’d be great if there was a clean way to handle the redirection automatically. I’ll probably slap together a custom 404 page so that visitors don’t get a generic IE/ASP.NET error page, but it’d be cool to have them just move on to the new address. Any ideas on that?

  • I updated BlogJet with the new DasBlog settings… it has a built-in profile for DasBlog, so this was actually pretty easy. If you do this, don’t let the default profile’s use of /blogger.aspx throw you off — it works fine under the hood. I haven’t looked at the source, but it seems DasBlog’s HTTP handler catches that URL request and handles the web service calls automatically. I was pleased with BlogJet in the .Text days and it handled converting to the new system without a hitch. Very slick.

  • DasBlog has a CAPTCHA system for discouraging blog spammers, as well as a “Blacklist” feature. I haven’t found any docs on how to use that Blacklist feature (looks like it used to be automated, but there were some problems with that), but hopefully a quick forum post will clear it up. I’m also surprised not to see an option to moderate comments.

I’m sure I’ll be tweaking settings over time as I learn my way around, but so far it seems good. I really like what I’ve seen so far of the DasBlog internals and it fits my needs great. Adding my own theme is the next step and hopefully the CAPTCHA system for comments will keep the spammers at bay.