In case you didn’t notice, I’ve converted Chip’s Tips into a WordPress blog. How do you like the new look?
I started Chip’s Tips back in 2001, before most people had ever heard of blogs. Yet, that’s more or less what it was from the start. I created my own XML grammar for outlining the topics, and another grammar for the posts themselves. Then I wrote Active Server Pages (ASP) to transform those XML documents into HTML pages using XSLT. It was my first project in both ASP and XSLT, and it worked quite well.
Lately, though, it’s been showing its age. ASP (not ASP.NET) is now an old technology. Blogs have evolved rapidly, and I wanted to be able to easily implement several key features:
- An RSS feed for the posts
- Comments and trackback/pingback
- Tagging and multiple categories per post
Besides, my process for posting was less than smooth. I would copy an existing XML document for a post, modify its content, add an entry for it in the outline XML file, then upload both of those plus any download file. Often I would create unmatched tags in the body of the topic file so the XML parser would fail. Count on at least fifteen minutes of fiddling in addition to however long it took me to write a post. With a blog, all of that is automagic.
So, how did I migrate?
First, I needed a content migration strategy. I wrote a PHP script to read the existing outline and topic XML files and generate an RSS feed. That way, I could use WordPress’ RSS importer to pull the content.
Second, I set up the WordPress site and tweaked the theme I was using for Chip’s Quips to work here. Different color scheme, some new pages, etc. Add the Google ads and search, and the scripts for Technorati and ReefeRSS.
Third, I applied the same hack I used on Chip’s Quips to redirect the feeds, and burned the feeds at FeedBurner. Then I setup landing pages at FeedPass. Added the subscribe links along with the Chicklet generator and R-mail widget to the sidebar.
The hardest part was setting up all of the new categories (I wanted to reshuffle those) and tag all of the existing posts. I also included one unique tag per post that matched the original mnemonic from the old system.
Next, I modified showtopic.asp to permanently redirect to a tag search for the mnemonic requested, so any existing external topic links will be unbroken. Thanks to Steven Hargrove for providing the most excellent way to do this in ASP, as well as just about any other web language). Then I redirected default.asp to the main page, chip.asp to the “About” page, and resources.asp to the “Resources” page. I’m leaving topics.asp alone, because attempting to map from the old categories to the new proved too daunting. So, any external links to a general topic will still show the old outline page, but clicking on a link to a topic there will take you to the corresponding page on the new site.
Last but not least, I converted licensing to the CCD CopyWrite license, which I have also adopted for Chip’s Quips. No big change there from Creative Commons Attribution – you’re free to copy and reuse this content to your heart’s content, provided you give appropriate credit to yours truly.
Enjoy, and please feel free to comment!