Learning The Hard Way

Over the past few days, I’ve been busy Googling away, trying to figure out all of the various methods of migrating content from a Drupal installation into WordPress. The results are few and far between. I did find a MySQL script here and there to migrate bits and pieces of one version of Drupal to one version of WordPress but there are no tools available to make the process simple, manageable, or effective on the first try. I’ve looked all over the modules section of the Drupal website, along with the forums for help but I have come up empty. Drupal does not contain any way to export your data which makes me wonder why they prefer to have people locked into their open source software. When I say locked in, in this case I mean, not easily being able to leave their platform. This isn’t so much of a problem with WordPress.

Let me give you the summary of the problem in which you as a blogger must think about before publishing that first post. Performancing has been running on Drupal since 2005. This site contains thousands of registered users, thousands of comments, thousands of posts ect. At it’s current stage, Drupal no longer satisfies the needs of the site and the purpose along with the direction of the site has changed. Because of the enormous backlog of content, we have been facing a critical decision. Do we stay with Drupal, upgrade the software, redesign it and deal with it? Or, do we pay a freelancer or an established company to migrate the important data off of Drupal and into WordPress. This is a task which is by no means cheap. (I’ve come up with yet another idea but a little more research is warranted before I can claim that it’s doable.)

To bring things back full circle. If you are a beginning blogger, make sure that you plan ahead a year or so with whatever platform you decide to use. Before using that publishing system, check to see how portable your data is. Will you be able to easily take your data out of the publishing system and transfer it somewhere else? Check around on forums as well as the web to see how people have faired in transferring content from one platform to the one you are interested in using. Check to see if plugins, tools, or scripts are available to make the process easier. If none of these options are present, I highly suggest not using that software no matter how great it is. You don’t want to end up in a position where you are stuck, indefinitely with a publishing system.

Those of you who are established bloggers, (The ones who have been around the block a few times) have you come across these same crossroads? Perhaps you found yourself in a similar situation. If so, I’d love to hear your experience in how you solved the problem. Some bloggers start from scratch while others simply deal with the issues at hand until they have no choice but to do something about it.

Ever hear that saying, “The choices you make today help shape your tomorrow”. This rings true, even in the world of blogging.

16 thoughts on “Learning The Hard Way

  1. Hi Jeff,

    I migrated from Drupal to WordPress myself and have migrated countless proprietary systems. It’s all about what you can stomach. I recommend WP for most people because it is easy to teach, use, and continually gets better – and there are a lot of plugins for it. It’s by no means perfect.

    The issue with migrating systems is running unit tests. I would spend some time and writing down all your potential concerns:

    * Links in Drupal work the same as in WP (or whatever(
    * Logins work in Drupal and WP
    * Posts in Drupal show up in the same place in WP
    * Comments in posts in Drupal show up in the right spot in the right order in WP

    and so forth.

    I’d just write them down… and to your technical skill level write a test in either a scripting language or even using Selenium.

    This test can be preserved and used again if you have to migrate – or if your migration takes a few iterations, it can be used over and over and save you a lot of time.

    If you do end up outsourcing (and you’re right, it will be a lot), make sure they do something like this.

    Good luck!


  2. I’m thinking of doing the same, Drupal 5.7 -> latest WordPress. I fired off an email to Lloyd and he pointed me to Darcy’s post, as well as here. Like others have mentioned, not a lot of free time to put into this so I’ll be watching developments here and will post back if I decide to make the switch and have any luck.

  3. Wow, so the script actually worked for you? Interesting. Let us know what you migrated over as well as how the final product turns out.

  4. If I were in your shoes, I would of done the same thing. I guess these are all signs that data portability really needs to become a reality instead of a topic for discussion. Thanks for the comments and for sharing your experience.

  5. Jeff,

    I definitely understand where you are coming from, except on a much smaller scale. I started my website on Joomla, and when I realized how much better WordPress was it was difficult to figure out how to transition. Of course, I only had about 20 posts, and not too many comments. I ended up cutting and pasting into new posts in WP, definitely not what you would even want to consider.

    I like your thoughts at the end of this post. Its a lesson I’ve been learning lately – “Plan for success.” You have to implement a great base, assuming that whatever you are doing will grow and be great.

  6. Right now, we would love to keep the old URLs. But we are reviewing all methods of how we would accomplish this.

    And about your note, perhaps they don’t want to lock anyone in. But because Drupal lacks an easy to use migration tool or an importer/exporter makes Drupal that much more a CMS not worth using. Even if it is a do it yourself community, any CMS or any publishing tool which does not make importing or exporting a reality is behind the times and is not worth using. That is my new stance on which platform to use.

  7. Thanks for stopping by Lloyd. I have in fact got in touch with Alex and D,Arcy both through email to see what they could do to help us out. Haven’t received a response just yet but I am hoping they will be able to tell us that moving stuff over is in fact doable.

    The situation is bad, but because we are willing to cut the fat off of what we really need, I think that makes the situation easier to manage than before. Instead of a straight migration, we would love it if we could just get the content, post authors, post date, comments, and URL Aliases into a single category into WordPress. Then we would take it from there.

    As we move along this process, I’ll be writing more posts which highlight the decisions we are making.

  8. Are you going to keep the old URLS ?
    Cause if you not, you could export the Mysql data as CSV, and reimport it into WordPress.

    Or you could write a php script that
    1. Takes the drupal nodes
    2. Examines the drupal SEO URL
    3. RePosts the title and content one by one into WordPress and enforces the old SEOed URLS

    You could outsource this to someone on Elance.com.

    Note: The Drupal community isn’t trying to lock you in… It’s just a very do-it-yourself type of community.

    I see you guys implemented my CAPTCHA idea on Drupal
    Well maybe…

  9. Hi UltraRob, I hear you about not enough time in the day. Switching from Blogger to WordPress is our bread and butter. So, when you are feeling inspired, the builtin Importer from BlogSpot has your back.

  10. Joomla is super active and involved because they have much more commercial modules.
    Money gets things done. The Drupal community is a bit shy in that area – at least when compared to Joomla.

    If you willing to lose your links, you could try exporting your titles and links directly from Mysql.But of course you will need to know what your doing with the export. So might as well outsource the task.

  11. Ouch, sounds like you are in a similar situation. I’ve noticed that it’s possible to migrate any cms to another but you need to have uber MySql skills to accomplish the feat. Do you ever get that feeling of looking up at a wall that is impossible to climb? That’s what I feel like when thinking about this migration situation.

    I mean, if you can pump out the content, thats great. But eventually, you’ll have to do something about it and it’s better to get it done and over with now before it becomes an impossibility.

  12. Funny you say that. I was originally going to use Joomla for my own blog but decided against it as it was too much of what I needed. I eventually went back to WordPress and it’s been a great experience thus far. You are correct in that, it takes time, patience and an SQL guru who is affordable to migrate content from one to the other. I wish it didn’t have to be like that.

    The Joomla community is indeed super active and helpful. I used to get quite a bit of help from the forums back when I actively used their software. Drupal on the other hand, not so much.

  13. I really wish I hadn’t started out on Blogger. I went to all the work of moving from blogspot.com to self hosted. Now I really wish I was using WordPress. I’ve looked at making the switch. It’s doable but still a lot of work. Between my day job and family, I barely have time to keep my site going let alone migrating from Blogger to WordPress. For now I’m not going to make the switch since it is working.

    I look at people that have successful blogs on blogspot.com and keep thinking how much their limiting themselves. I’m guessing they really don’t feel they have the tech skills to run their own site. I’ve talked to some that don’t even understand why they should be self hosted.

  14. I am dealing with a similar issue with a Joomla ->> WordPress conversion, also with many years worth of content. But fortunately for me, this is for a client of mine and not my own blog. Thank goodness, I started my own blog on WordPress when I decided Joomla was too complicated for my purposes. I ended up helping them to hire someone else to do the conversion. From what I understand, it takes a SQL guru, patience, and money to accomplish the feat.

    With all that being said, I did a lot of comparison between Joomla, Drupal, and a few other CMS platforms. If you are unhappy with Drupal and don’t want to go through the hassle of converting to WordPress, another alternative is to convert to Joomla. I find that the Joomla team and contributors are much more responsive and innovative than those supporting Drupal. Just my personal opinion of course.


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