Moving TypePad blogs to WordPress MU: TypeLists

TypePad suck, no two ways about it. Why, in your right mind, would you want to use something so limited in functionality on the platform that you have no control over, when there are tons of open source solutions that are way better…

Strangely enough, TypePad being the way it is, made a lot of people wanting to switch to things like WordPress(well at least from what I hear :) . Moving a blog onto WordPress with 0-broken links, no missing images, while keeping all embedded things, such as YouTube videos and Technorati Tags fully functional with 0-downtime ain’t a simple task. Small blogs may not really care about everything I’ve mentioned, but some serious blogs out there however need all that done, done fast and done right the first time.

That’s way a team that I am a proud member of, recently got a nice project that involved moving pretty huge conglomerate of TypePad based blogs onto WordPress MU. As we proceeded with the project, many interesting discoveries were made and few handy tools were developed(few I’ll be posting about soon).

One interesting problem we faced was cause by TypeLists. Even being so strangely built, TypePad has an interesting feature called TypeList, where you can put in an arbitrary content and then render it anywhere on the page. Our client used that stuff for putting up advertisements and keeping their blogroll in there.

Blogroll transition was quite smooth – we’ve exported TypeList into OPML(gladly TypePad provided that functionality) and then imported that OPML right into WordPress(in WordPress Admin, Menu “Write -> Link“, on the right side there’ll be Import Links link-button).

TypeLists with ads were a bit more interesting though. Out of the box WordPress provides similar functionality via Widgets(more specifically text widgets). In order to make them work your template has to be widgetized. WordPress Codex has a great article about that was helpful, but still made me read through API to make our template’s sidebars properly widgetized. Text widget pretty much saved the day! You can post arbitrary HTML content right into any of the 4 sidebars we setup in the template – awesome! :)

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