It’s interesting watching the web and its technologies develop. A project that I’m currently finishing up is for a website that I’ve seen through a few iterations now. I did the first design for them a little over four years ago as a sophomore in high school.

At the time, I had already been using WordPress for awhile. It didn’t really even seem like an option for this site then though. As crazy as it seems now, Dreamweaver templates were what we decided on and that kept everything fairly sane — at least by the standards at the time. Managing it today would be considered a nightmare.

The next redesign was a couple of years later. Again, we went with Dreamweaver templates. While it probably would have been possible to switch to WordPress this time, it definitely didn’t seem like a first option for us. I was managing the few pages that were involved in my personal site through WordPress, but I think Dreamweaver was really the only thing we considered for the project. I still remember the process of converting the old templates to the new ones – most of which was done by Travis Wetzel.

At that time, I managed to get WordPress in the door by setting up a blog. It doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but I think it had a pretty big impact in how a large site like that was updated on a daily basis. It was getting obvious where the friction in the process was. And let me just say, I don’t think anyone involved had a strong attachment to the application with the little green icon by the end of this.

Federated Systems

Last summer we setup a multisite install of WordPress along side the preexisting website and blog. The steps started to become clear and the process of federating an entire website of html files plus two WordPress installs into one singly hosted website had begun. No more Dreamweaver templates or weird blog sub-directories or having to do something more than one way. WordPress was going to be the core of this site and make management a dream compared the the past.

Now, the transition.

Converging on WordPress

Even before setting up a second copy of WordPress, I knew that eventually we’d want to get all the information that had been kept in html files across a number of sub-directories into a CMS. And I knew that CMS was most likely going to be WordPress.

Moving it all

Moving everything went over pretty smoothly. I setup a new server, which was extremely helpful.

Moving the multisite install of WordPress involved downloading the entire database as a sql/text file since there’s no good way built into WordPress to export that – yet. Then I tarred the entire WordPress directory and downloaded it to the new server with “a little wget magic”. Setup the database, change some configuration files and that’s done.

Next, I exported the main WordPress blog that I still had to move through the WordPress dashboard. Imported it as the main site and copied over some assets and that was done as well. I’m simplifying this a bit, but you get the idea.

The small problem with the main blog is that the permalinks include /blog with the base url and no way to remove it. They add that to avoid collisions, but I couldn’t think of a scenario where that would be a problem in this instance so that doesn’t concern me and I didn’t really want everything to have /blog before it so I found a fix. Somewhere, probably in wp-config.php or maybe your functions.php file you can put define( 'BLOG_ID_CURRENT_SITE', 1 ); where “1” is the ID of the main blog.

With all the WordPress stuff moved, we had to create some pages that didn’t already or wouldn’t exist as their own sites. Pretty standard stuff from here on.

The Future

I’m sure it will be nice for them to have everything in one database, in one WordPress installation, running on a theme that has to be designed once.

I did a new theme for the site as well that I’ll post up as a portfolio item when I get some time after the transition is complete.