Migrate from Movable Type to WordPress

Migrate from Movable Type to WordPress

Like all household or office moves, converting a website or blog from one platform to another can be a daunting task. However with the right tools and steps, it is very easy to migrate from Movable Type to WordPress.

Moving from Movable Type to WordPress
Photo by: Gavin St. Ours

I had been wanting to convert the Webnames Blog from Movable Type to WordPress for years in order to take advantage of the number of great plugins and widgets available for WordPress.  In 2007, however, the WordPress platforms were having many issues with security and our team wanted a more secure system. Over the past six years, WordPress has made many changes and improved it security through changes in the core software as well as many plug-ins to help. Based on the current content management usage statistics maintained by  BuiltWith, WordPress now powers 51.13% of the top one million sites, Movable Type is used by 0.1% (550 of the top one million sites).

After creating a plan to address performance and security concerns, I started the migration from Movable Type to WordPress. I did a lot a research on how to best move the content. The first thing to note is that our old blog had URLS setup like http://blog.webnames.ca/year/month/article-name-here.html. However, I wanted the new blog to be based on the post name, not the month or year. Also, WordPress doesn’t generate .html files like Movable Type does, so the paths would have to be directory structures.

To migrate from Movable Type to WordPress, do the following:

  1. Install the latest version of WordPress on your new hosting platform. If you are a Webnames.ca customer, you can log into your hosting panel and use the one click install. If your existing hosting provider does not support WordPress or an easy to implement WordPress install, consider Webnames.ca Hosting.
  2. Once you have installed WordPress on your hosting, then you will need to log into your Movable Type platform and export your blog posts. If you do not have admin privileges, you will not have access to the menu Tools->Export. The export file will be called mt-export.txt and save this file locally as it will be required for the import into WordPress.
  3. Setup your new WordPress hosting platform with the correct URL format you want. I highly recommend that you use the post name and not use the date in any way. Your post names should be unique so there should be no reason to use the date as part of the URL. It doesn’t help SEO (Search Engine Optimization).Best WordPress Permalink Setting
  4. Install the wordpress plug in Movable Type and TypePad Importer. Once activated it will appear under Tools->Import.Migration from Movable Type Tool
  5. When you click on the link, you will see the “Import Movable Type or TypePad” screen. The easiest option is to manually put the mt-export.txt file in your /wp-content/ directory and click “Import mt-export.txt”. However, before you start the import, make sure you create the WordPress authors first that you want to map your previous content to.Convert from Movable Type to WordPress
  6. After you click “Import mt-export.txt”, you will be prompted to assign authors to your posts based on the WordPress authors. As stated in the previous step, I recommend you create the authors before you start the import. If you have forgotten, you can easily click on the user tab of WordPress and create the users. Nothing will have started importing at this point. You can create the authors using this interface, but I recommend you not use the author’s name as their username as it is security risk that I will talk about in another post.Assign Movable Type Authors to WordPress Users
  7. After you have assigned all your authors, you will start the import of all your blog posts from your previous Movable Type platform. Once the posts have been created in WordPress, you will need to address the new URL issue. If you don’t care about losing your SEO on your previous posts that you have gained, you can stop here. However, if you have a blog with a lot of history, you will want to setup redirects so customers can view old posts that have links to them.
  8. To setup redirects, you can install a WordPress plug-in called Redirection. Once you install this plug-in, you will be able to access this plug-in from Tools->Redirection.
  9. In Redirection, you will need to setup one redirect per post like the following:Redirection Hardcoded URLs
  10. If you know how to use regex, you can setup a redirect from your old blog path from /YEAR/MONTH/some-name.html to the new path.The source would be: /(\d*)/(\d*)/(.*).html
    Target: /$3/This regex matches slash – any number of digits – slash – any number of digits – slash – any character and any number of characters before – “.html”.

I followed these steps to migrate from Movable Type to WordPress with over a thousand historical posts and it was done in under an hour. I spent most of my time setting up the new WordPress theme, securing the site and performance tuning it. I hope these steps help you with your conversion project.

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