Late last year my webhost suddenly switched from MySQL to MariaDB for its back-end databases, which meant that my aging installation of Movable Type, which had powered this blog for a decade and a half, stopped working. Short of finding a new host, paying a fortune for a newer Pro version of MT, or adding individual posts by hand indefinitely, my best option was to make the switch to WordPress, which I’d tentatively started with a blog project in 2015. I figured I’d switch over in 2020 so that the static archives from before the start of the year could persist unchanged.
Moving the site across has been a complicated process, and isn’t finished yet. I thought I’d keep track of some of the tips and posts I found along the way that made it possible.
First I had to figure out how to move a single-site installation of WordPress into a multisite installation, with a blog at the top level of the site, another in a subfolder, and the WordPress application in another subfolder.
Once WordPress and my blogs were all in the right locations, I could work on how they looked. At first this meant using a standard WordPress theme, but that was never going to be satisfying for long. Instead, I started learning how to make a new theme based on my 2016–2019 site design.
The new theme looked right, but was missing most of the old design’s bells and whistles. Adding them meant spending a lot of time with the WordPress theme handbook, searching the names of functions to see how they worked, and paying close attention to user-submitted snippets of code.
First I worked on displaying comments and tweaking the form for adding new comments. I had to adjust the title tags so that every single page had more than just the site name in its title. I’ve bookmarked how to hide page titles in WordPress, which I used to do on a post-by-post basis in Movable Type, but haven’t got there yet.
Adding monthly and category archives was another piece of the puzzle, along with getting the navigation links for the monthly archives working. Read More links were next, although I wasn’t able to replicate their precise positioning in the old templates without going way deeper into the code than I wanted.
Finally, I looked at creating category archives by year with permalinks of /category/YYYY, although I’d prefer /YYYY/category/ to echo my old structure. An old snippet of code on date-based category archives for WordPress (as later modified by another) seems like it will be helpful, but I haven’t reached the end of that process yet. There’s a plug-in that does something similar, but I’m trying to get everything working without plug-ins.
The site’s look and functionality is slightly different from last year’s in a few respects, but it’s as close as I can get without some industrial-strength hacking. Once I solve the issues around yearly category archives, and get RSS working again, it will all be good enough; although now that I think of it, there’s a home-rolled gallery script that will need attention too.