Tag: import

Vox Exports to Self-Hosted Blogs Now Even Easier

VoxPress?A couple months ago, I wrote about a new ability developed for WordPress.com that allows you to export your Vox blog to a WordPress blog. I was really excited about this at the time, because I’m always in favor of services allowing you to take your data with you when you want to leave – nothing is more frustrating than devoting time/energy to a project/blog/site and then finding yourself with the choice of either staying locked-in to your current situation or giving up all your work and starting over fresh.

At the time, I mentioned that the only way to port from Vox to a self-hosted WordPress blog (i.e. on your own domain, not a WordPress.com sub-domain) was to use WordPress.com as an intermediary – exporting from Vox to WordPress.com, and then exporting a WXR file and importing it into your other blog.  While this technically works (I tried it out), it’s a little messy and leaves all the pictures hosted on the WordPress.com domain site, instead of pulling them into your self-hosted site.

Brian Colinger, a developer of WordPress.com and WordPress plugins, contacted me a few weeks ago to let me know that he’s now developed a WordPress plugin that you can install on your self-hosted domain that will do the same export functionality as before, but this time directly to your self-hosted blog.  Yep, now there’s a Vox exporter to self-hosted blogs!

The process itself is pretty easy, and Brian’s post gives step-by-step instructions, so I won’t repeat them here.  You have to install the WP_Importer base class plugin first, and then Vox Importer plugin.  Pretty soon, you’ll be pulling all your posts over to your own self-hosted WordPress blog!

Just like the ability on WordPress.com, this importer should:

  • Imports posts AND comments.  Comments are captured exactly as left on Vox, and the link to the commenter goes back to their Vox blog URL.
  • Imports photos from Vox into WordPress.  Yes, photos will be native to WordPress, so they won’t just link back to a photo hosted by Vox.
  • Imports tags from your blog.  No option to turn this off, but all tags are carried over and used as tags on the WordPress blog.
  • Imports ALL posts, not just those made “public”.  Adjust privacy settings before or after you import to account for the fact that WordPress doesn’t have all the privacy modes that Vox does, but you get all your content carried over when you import!  NOTE: If you don’t want a post to be public on your WordPress blog, make it visible to “YOU (hidden)” only before you export/import.  Then it will show up as “Private” on your WordPress blog. All other privacy settings (neighborhood only, friends and family, etc.) will appear on your new WordPress blog as public, accessible-by-anyone entries until you change their privacy level from within WordPress.
  • Maintains formatting from your Vox blog – bullets, numbering, centering, font colors, etc all carry over 1:1.  This may cause some minor issues on your WordPress blog if the layout doesn’t support (e.g. white font on a white background), but you can edit this after the fact to suit.

Hat’s off to Brian for another job well done! Stop by his blog and leave a comment for him on the post if you end up using the plugin, and let him know how it went.  Also, if you have any further questions/bug reports, be sure to let Brian know so he can fine-tune this plugin for all the folks out there that had no choice but to remain with Vox, lose their work, or laboriously copy it by hand to another platform!


So Much for VoxPort – WordPress.Com Imports Vox Blogs Directly!

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A few folks have emailed me or left comments on various posts on my blogs letting me know that WordPress now supports Vox blog imports directly.  Seems the code wranglers over there were tired of waiting on my slack butt to get things ready and decided to go ahead and just do it on their own!  And you should probably be glad they did, because my work schedule ended up being something I wouldn't wish on anyone, and left little-to-no free time for me to do anything, let alone work out the kinks in the alpha/beta versions of the tool I was working on.  (Luckily that's pretty much past for now, so I'm returning to the keyboard and back to the blog starting with this post!)

So anyway, WordPress.com blogs can now import from a Vox blog.  Once you have a blog set up over on WordPress.com, you can go under the "Import" tab of the Tools menu and choose to import from a Vox blog.  You enter your blog hostname, your user ID and password, and they pull ALL of your posts and comments over into your WordPress blog.  Private posts are kept private, but I believe everything else becomes public (so you'd want to go through and change privacy notifications if, for example, you have everything on your Vox blog set as neighborhood-only).  The service will even email you when the import is complete, so you don't have to sit around and check the status of the import continuously.  Once it's done, you can go in and configure the settings how you'd like, modify entries, delete comments, etc – everything you could do when the content was on Vox, but now over on WordPress.com.

The importer has some great benefits, such as:

  • Imports posts AND comments.  Comments are captured exactly as left on Vox, and the link to the commenter goes back to their Vox blog URL.
  • Imports photos from Vox into WordPress.  Yes, photos will be native to WordPress, so they won't just link back to a photo hosted by Vox.
  • Imports tags from your blog.  No option to turn this off, but all tags are carried over and used as tags on the WordPress blog.
  • Imports ALL posts, not just those made "public".  Adjust privacy settings before or after you import to account for the fact that WordPress doesn't have all the privacy modes that Vox does, but you get all your content carried over when you import!
  • Maintains formatting from your Vox blog – bullets, numbering, centering, font colors, etc all carry over 1:1.  This may cause some minor issues on your WordPress blog if the layout doesn't support (e.g. white font on a white background), but you can edit this after the fact to suit.

There ARE some caveats to their importer, though:

  • Does not import media except for pictures (videos, audio, books, collections don't seem to carry over).  You'll notice in the WordPress blog that these simply link back to your Vox blog where they are still hosted.  If you want to do a true transfer over with any of these, you'll actually have to download all your files (or have saved the originals) and upload these into WordPress directly.  It's very nice that the pictures carry over, but you may need to adjust some formatting on posts where pictures are involved to get them to wrap and/or fit in the borders of your layout since the entries will still have the Vox picture formatting.
  • May screw up your formatting.  I have heard from some others that it worked fine, but at least in my case the formatting on the WordPress blog made it so there was a carriage return at the end of every line so that instead of wrapping naturally, it cut off each line and added some strange line breaks in the middle of the posts – something that I didn't purposefully put in my Vox blog when typing up the entries.  Not sure where this came from or whether it's a parsing issue, but means that I would have to manually hit up each entry in my history and correct to make it appear to be formatted correctly, which sort of defeats the point of an export.  I've followed up with a guy from Automattic who was in touch with me about Vox exports last fall to see if there's anything he can do about this, and he's looking into it.
  • Only works for WordPress.com blogs (for now).  The latest revision of self-hosted WordPress.org blogs still appears to not have an option to import from Vox (if it ever will).  This is probably not a deal-breaker though, as you can import into a temporary blog on WordPress.com, and then export from there to a WXR file and import into your personal WordPress installation.  The biggest issue here is that most self-hosted installs only accept .xml files up to 2MB in size, and your export may be much bigger, in which case you'll have to manually split it up into smaller files that can fit the import process.  Again, the guy from Automattic is looking to work this into self-hosted installs, but it may be later rather than sooner due to development cycles and trying to get stuff like this included in the base code.

Overall though, it looks like the folks over at WordPress/Automattic did a VERY nice job of creating a means for locked-in Vox users to export their blogs to another platform.  From WordPress.com you can go to self-hosted WordPress blogs, Blogger, and any other blogging platform that can process the seemingly ubiquitous WordPress WXR export file.  So whether you're looking to jump ship or just back up your blog somewhere a little more….reliable….I'd recommend you give this exporter a try. 

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BlogBackupOnline… Because Really, Who Wants to Lose Their Posts?

Recently, I've been trying out a free online service from Techrigy called BlogBackupOnline.  Up until now, I wouldn't have recommended it for Vox users due to a bug that wouldn't let them back up my posts past a certain date in history.  However, now they've fixed that and I feel comfortable recommending them here on my blog.

What It Is
What BlogBackupOnline claims to be is "an effortless way to backup, restore, and export your blog".  Supporting more than 10 different blog sites (including the big ones of LiveJournal, Vox, Blogger, Movable Type, Typepad, and WordPress), BlogBackupOnline crawls a specified blog for all your posts and comments, and creates a backup on their third-party servers.  Once the blog undergoes one full backup, you can then turn on daily update scans, that will record changes made to your entries, new comments, and back up any entries made from that point on.

How It Works
Once you sign up for a free account (50 Mb storage per account), you can register one or more blogs to be backed up using this "full scan" crawl.  After the scan is completed (took me about 7 minutes for ~200 entries in my blog history), you can enable the daily scans.  From that point on, all the existing entries, are scanned daily for changes and new comments, which are then added to the blog's backup.  New entries are also backed up the same way.

The Backup
Once your entries are backed up, you can go check it out using the dashboard provided at the BlogBackupOnline website.  The "Content" tab shows you all of the individual entries, and selecting any one of them will show you the full HTML backup of that page, as well as all the comments that have been backed up.  Although some people may only want the text portions of their posts backed up, I like having the HTML because it includes all hyperlinks, text formatting, etc.  Plus, if you ever want to restore/transfer your posts in the future, you're probably going to want this info.  There's no way to turn off the backup of all HTML, though, so for now it's like-it-or-lump-it.

Restoring Your Blog
Although BlogBackupOnline claims to restore blogs, there is NO option yet for restoring a Vox blog.  Although this may be due to the nature of the Vox platform, I hope that at one point in the near future, BlogBackupOnline will have a means to restore individual posts or full blogs to Vox blogs.  In the meantime, you can restore/transfer your posts to Blogger, LiveJournal, WordPress, or Windows Live Spaces.  You can, of course, copy/paste an individual entry from the backup into the Vox compose screen, but that defeats the real purpose of the restore feature and would be tiresome for someone with a large number of posts.

Exporting Your Blog
Are you one of those untrusting souls who can't stand not to do it yourself?  You can always export the entire backup's contents to a single .xml file (in RSS 2.0 format) via the export tab on the dashboard.  You can do whatever you like with it, including burning a copy to CD in case you want a hard-copy backup.  (Theoretically, you could try doing a Vox import off of this file if you hosted it somewhere, and see if Vox was able to pull it all in – that might get around the "restore" issue, but I can't vouch that this works.  If someone would like to test this and let me know, I'll update the review to let everyone know how it works.)

Other Features
The dashboard also contains a "log" tab that lets you view status of recent full/daily update scans (helpful, but not necessary unless you're paranoid about ensuring your backups took place).  There is also the option to back up "media files" (currently images), but this doesn't seem to apply to Vox blogs, as checking this box made no change to the backup content of my blog.  With a 50 Mb storage limit, I'm not sure you'd really want to back up media anyways – you might be constantly pushing the limit if you tend to post a lot of photos on your blog.  A better way would be to post your photos on flickr and link to them via Vox, if they're that important to you.

In Summary
BlogBackupOnline provides a quick-and-easy means to back up your blog.  I like the ease of signing up and setting up an account.  Tech support was very courteous and quickly responded when I had issues with my backup, and worked to fix the actual bug I discovered, rather than just putting it on a "to-do list" for a future rev of the site. 

While the site DOES say that "backups are free during the beta period" and gives no indication as to when this beta period will end or what the fees will be after that point, it IS a free service for use right now, and does a good job of doing what it is supposed to do.  At the very least, it provides a modicum of protection for your blog in case of catastrophic loss of posts/comments.  I'd recommend anyone without a backup solution in place currently to look into signing up.  It only takes a couple of minutes of your time, and can't hurt you to try it out.  Because really, who wants to lose their posts?

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