If you love WordPress, don’t be put off by my overly cute post title. I come not to bury WP, but to praise it (well, mostly praise it). It’s just that I like that old movie title, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and wanted to use it here.
I recently wrote a glowing report of my experiences with my new WordPress blog and a less than glowing review of my experiences with my old Typepad blog.
After scores of hours of installations of a new theme, plugins and just plain finding my way around the new system, I’m still pretty happy. Sure, I can’t get my spellcheck plugin to work properly (UPDATE: the plugin author Brian Dupuis personally just did a virtual blog housecall and fixed the problem–now that’s service) and can’t quite figure out why the Exhibit plugin doesn’t seem to be working quite right (or else I’m missing something). And why the WYSIWYG TinyMCE editor conflicts with so many things that I had to deactivate it I don’t know. But, as with Firefox and its extensions, they take some getting used to and there are bound to be bugs and other issues that need some TLC to iron out. As I wrote in my earlier post about my conversion experience–everything’s a tradeoff. And for me, the dodgy plugins are more than offset by the immense diversity, utility and power offered by most WP plugins.
I’m immensely pleased by the new blog power I have at my fingertips. My biggest issue with Typepad was comment and trackback spam. I love WP’s comment moderation feature and I’m not even yet using any anti-spam plugins. I haven’t had a spam comment yet (though that’s probably because not all the search engines have caught up with my new site yet). But even if I did, I can delete the offending comment with the click of a button. I like that.
I also love wp-amazon and the ease with which you can upload Amazon products (in my case CDs) into your posts. Now, if it would just allow you to do the same within your sidebar! In-Series is a plugin I’ve been waiting for for two years which allows you to organize posts written on a single subject or theme so that your readers can follow them in a series. I’d probably activate David Chait’s cg Amazon plugin since it does insert products into the sidebar, but David wants to insert his Amazon Associates ID into 20% of my links and that makes me feel uncomfortable (though I don’t begrudge him offseting his costs in producing the plugin). And Technotags are splendid. I never could understand how to use them reading the Technorati specs. This plugin makes it all so easy.
But I saved the rough part for last: there IS a problem that’s presently causing me to tear my hair out. Anyone using my old Typepad post hyperlinks cannot reach those same posts in my new blog. Here’s what’s happening…Typepad uses a .html/underscore link format for its posts. Carhik, who helped set up my initial WP installation, tried to create an analogous WP link format. But you cannot use underscores or .htmls in WP post links. So he used the hyphen format. He then tried to create mod_rewrite rules in the htaccess file that would convert the .html links into hyphen links.
So much water has flowed under the bridge since then I don’t even remember whether Carthik’s attempt ever worked. But it sure doesn’t now. Since my old blog and new have the same domain name & path structure, people using the old links are getting to my new blog. But they’re not getting to the post because no conversion happens. See for yourself…a new link (https://www.richardsilverstein.com//2005/05/george-bush-don/) and an old (https://www.richardsilverstein.com//2005/05/george_bush_don.html).
Carthik has once again saved the day by recreating a series of mod_rewrite rules which are now correctly converting old TP permalinks into new WP permalinks. Many thanks once again to this stellar fellow. It appears that what had happened is that the code he originally wrote for htaccess was overwritten when I either created new pages or performed some other blog function which caused material to be written to the htaccess file. I wonder if any other WP users have found this phenomenon to happen? And is there any surefire way to avoid code being overwritten (Carthik wrote his code OUTSIDE the BEGIN and END terms in htaccess which meant they shouldn’t have been overwritten but were nevertheless)?
Also, if anyone else is migrating from TP to WP and would like the benefit of Carthik’s code (I’m not sure it will work in blog configurations that are different than mine–but it may be worth looking at) please e mail me here. And while I’m in no position to offer Carthik’s help, he was very generous in helping me and might be able to provide a few pointers.
I’m no expert on ht access nor on mod_rewrite. So I’ve gone to the Codex, checked every link there to external solutions recommended. I’ve posted this to the support forum. I’ve posted at webmasterworld.com too. Many have tried to help, but all to no avail.
One of my problems is that unlike MovableType, TP blogs are hosted by Six Apart on their servers. You pay them (in my case $13/month) for the privilege. I’m guessing that most who move from MT to WP maintain their MT installations and use their MT templates to help in the redirect process. Since I want to shut my TP blog down, I don’t have that luxury.
If anyone out there feels confident they can help me either as a volunteer or for pay, please contact me. I’m desperate! This last technical hurdle is the only thing standing between me and blog bliss. Won’t you help me realize my bliss (and end my heartache)??
If your new blog has the same domain name as the old typepad one, there’s absolutely no reason why mod_rewrite won’t work — it’s all done on your server. you just need someone to write the rules for you. Unfortunately I can’t help you with that. I’d love to, but I don’t know enough about it. Perhaps you could post the code that’s currently in your htaccess file, so that people who know about these things can diagnose the problem for you?
I had a quick look at your post in the WordPress forum. The code you referred to is for use in a Movable Type/TypePad template, and will generate a htaccess file. You can’t put that code straight into a htaccess file. You’ll need to find someone to help you write the rules — I can do basic redirects, but I’m not good with the syntax, etc, for complex ones.
But there might be a way to use a plugin. Scott Yang wrote a redirect plugin that I’ve been using without problems. It’s for a different purpose, but I don’t see why it couldn’t be modified by someone with PHP knowledge to do this job as well. I noticed that when people visit the “wrong” URLs, they are parsed by WordPress. A modified version of this plugin would take the bad text and redirect it towards the post. You might be able to ask Mr Yang himself, or perhaps a friendly volunteer will come along?
Anyway, I hope this is helpful. Sorry I can’t help with the technical side of things.
Richard Silverstein says
Thanks, Robert. As you discovered after following my link to support posts, I have asked for help with the problem. Some have tried but nothing’s worked so far.
The redirect plugin sounds promising, but only if Scott is willing to work with me to modify it for my need. I hope he is because if it does work it would be immensely helpful for any other Typepad users switching over to WP. I think more would if hurdles like this were lowered significantly. And a good plugin would do just that.
I’ve left a comment for Scott at the URL you linked & look forward to hearing from him.
I too wish you could help but thanks for doing what you could.
It is all working now. As i expected it was just that the .htaccess files got overwritten. I hope you won’t have the problem again. Please save the .htaccess files that I also emailed you.
sorry for the inordinate delay.
(the tex tin the comment entry form is too small for me to see, please excuse any typos 🙂 )
Neil Parks says
Personally I think blogger.com is as good as the others. And the price is unbeatable.
Richard Silverstein says
You’ve got to be kidding. How much do you know about other blogging software? I’d guess not very much by the ill-informed comment you left above. For those who’d like to know more about my opinion of Blogger.com, pls. take a look at this post I wrote as a comparative review of Blogger vs. Typepad. I haven’t used blogger in over two years so I suppose it’s possible it’s improved somewhat. But based on its deficiencies then I can’t see how it could improve enough to make it a credible alternative to MT or WordPress, let alone Typepad.
My advice about blogger.com: stay away.