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FairFieldMirror Switches To WordPress

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October 14th, 2009
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themirrorlogoThere are a ton of stories out on the web that talk about WordPress but some of the most interesting stories consists of large websites that contain thousands of articles that describe their process from switching from their previous content management system to WordPress. The Fairfield Mirror previously used a system called College Publisher. After spending a few weeks with it, Joseph Cefoli decided that it wouldn’t be the best tool for the job. After spending time checking out all of the different alternatives, the decision to use WordPress was made.

The site uses a revamped version of the Gazette Edition theme developed by WooThemes. The switch included over 7,000+ articles which were manually sorted through to ensure a smooth transition.

We received the database around June, and CoPress helped us convert its structure to something compatible with WordPress. All 7,000+ articles were unsorted and many authors’ information was redundant. I spent many hours merging user accounts, removing dead images, cleaning up dead links and adding some basic functionality. This is where all the technical stuff goes (the PHP, the SQL and the CSS) but I’d put you to sleep if I went on, so I’ll skip further detail here.

I invite you to read their story of how they made the switch considering it was not an easy process and contained many hours of manual labor. There wasn’t a script that did everything for them although I’m sure that would have been nice to have. Reading stories like this reminds me of how important it is for the various open source projects including WordPress to not only provide an easy way into the system with your data, but an equally easy way out. My hope is that some day, there is some sort of protocol adopted by the majority of publishing systems that makes switching between them as easy as 1,2,3.

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  1. Daniel Bachhuber (1 comments.) says:

    Thanks for the post, Jeff. I’m the Executive Director of CoPress and it’s great to have our partner’s projects get the press they deserve. I’d like to clarify on one point, however. We did actually migrate their old College Publisher database to WordPress with a custom conversion script that we maintain. The issue isn’t so much with what the script does in the conversion process, but rather how the data is delivered from College Publisher. There are sometimes significant inconsistencies in the archives, which also vary from archive to archive, that we can’t always handle with our conversion script. I haven’t talked with Joseph about this specifically, but I imagine the time was spent cleaning up some of the data after we converted and imported their old archives.

    Also, if you’re interested in switches with large databases, CM Life was over 38,000+ records. That was a significant undertaking with a few tricks we had to invent.

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      I’ve spoken with Joseph via email and I would love to have you and him join me on an episode of WordPress Weekly in the near future. Let me know if you’re interested or have been in contact with Joseph regarding this opportunity.

      • Daniel Bachhuber (1 comments.) says:

        Sure, I’d be happy to

        • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

          Ok, Joseph is in the process of getting me his schedule and I say we collaborate via email from here on to try and nail down a date to do the show. This will be a good one!

  2. Chris says:

    Joe Cefoli is my homeskillet.

  3. dotpro (3 comments.) says:

    Great story.

    WordPress truly is a dynamic and modern CMS platform. I recently converted all of my sites from joomla+article manager CMSes to wordpress… one site alone had 16,000+ articles (between joomla and article manager by interactivetools.com). The switch was painful, had to think about if it should be done, lost a lot of backlinks but it was worth it.

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      Wow, sounds like even more of an undertaking than what FairFieldMirror went through. How much of the conversion process was automated and how much of it did you have to do by hand?

      • dotpro (3 comments.) says:

        Jeff,

        Thanks. Article Manager allowed me to create XML files… so, it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. I just imported the XML files (20 of them) into wordpress (an awesome feature). It imported author (still had to create the author username manually though, used a mass user creation script for wp), article content, etc and I didn’t really care about pictures as there weren’t that many to begin with.

        On the other hand, for joomla, there is a great script out there that allowed you to import articles from each joomla section and/or category into wordpress category. Majority of my articles were in article manager.

        I would say most of the work was done by the XML feature both in article manager and wordpress, manaul work was just importing them one by one.

  4. Dana@Online Knowledge (3 comments.) says:

    This story tell me how powerful is WordPress engine. I am glad that i make a right choice to choose wordpress as my blog engine.

  5. Amy (1 comments.) says:

    After reading this I switched to WordPress as well – best choice I’ve ever made online :) :D

  6. Anand (2 comments.) says:

    This is a great story of how open source projects can really be successful.



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