I spent way too much of last Sunday figuring out how to import over 300 articles from my database of published articles into WordPress, to make it easier to find and manage all that work. Those articles are now visible in the published work category here in my blog.
The old writing database was something I built a few years ago from scratch, using PHP with a MySQL database on the back end. It was a great learning experience and worked well for keeping track of, and showing off, work that I’d done as a freelancer. What I learned while building that database also helped me build the custom CMS that ran on tinywords from about 2004 until last year.
There’s something really satisfying about building one’s own content management system, no matter how simple or bare-bones. But in the end, managing content in a custom CMS gets to be a pain in the ass, and you look more and more enviously at the features that WordPress users keep getting, without any effort on their part. I was already using WordPress for this blog, so it made sense to consolidate it with my older database.
Fortunately WordPress has the ability to import RSS files, so Sunday’s work was mostly a matter of getting the RSS feed into the right format, making sure it included all the articles, and eliminating stray, non-ASCII characters. In other words, a lot of work tweaking PHP.
The WordPress RSS import tool doesn’t give you much feedback — it just works or it doesn’t — and there are no particular options, so it was mostly a matter of trial and error.
Again: a learning experience.