Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Workaround for archiving my "Other Journalism" blog

As discussed at Workaround for lack of sftp in Radio Userland

This is more technical than most things I post here, but it may help some folks who find themselves in a similar situation.

I've been using another blogging software, Radio Userland, for seven years, but the company's "radio.weblogs.com" hosting service and its software updates are both being discontinued in December. Rather than have seven years' work disappear into the cosmic bitbucket, I decided to archive the site as http://stepno.com/oldblog

(http://stepno.com/blog is a shortcut to this current blog -- and in the future will remain a shortcut to whatever blogging site I'm using most.)

As mentioned below, none of this would have been possible without help from Richard Silverman, the keeper of the server that hosts my stepno.com pages.

I tried to post this whole description in Userland's support forum, but either a momentary Web glitch or a length-limitation gave me an error message... so I posted a shorter message and linked it here.

The details:

If someone snuck an sftp function into Radio Userland and I never found it, don't tell me... It would have saved me the day's work described here.

Radio Userland was a pioneer blogging package, but has become old-fashioned in a few ways, most notably its lack of support for secure file-transfer with SSH or SFTP. Meanwhile, my personal Web domain's sysadmin hasn't allowed plain FTP on our server.

That's perfectly understandable: He's a card-carrying security expert who has written two books on the subject (http://snailbook.com for one).

So I've used Userland's radio.weblogs.com hosting all these years. After all, it was already included in the annual $40 license for the software -- quite a bargain by any standard.

Now, with Radio apparently headed off the air for good, I wanted to at least archive my old posts for future reference. I do link to some of them now and then. This post is to share the results.

Basically, I found a way to create a copy of the rendered site on my own machine, zip it up, SFTP the .zip file to the server, and unzip it there. I used a Mac; I assume you can do something similar with a PC. Most of these details will make sense only to other users of Radio Userland with the program open in a browser window. (Good bye to the rest of you reading.)

In Radio, I edited the preferences within the blog to turn off commenting, since I won't have a comment engine attached to the archival copy. I also edited the main template to identify the site as "2002-2009 blog page archive." The rest of the instructions below use the Radio page "Preferences > Basic Preferences >
FTP option"

In the Mac's System Preferences for Sharing, I turned on File Sharing and set its Options to use FTP. (That's the part that must be different under Windows.)

Then I followed these steps:

1. I set Radio to ftp to the localhost Server "" with a folder Path of "/users/bob/oldblog/" on my Mac. (If I remember correctly, Radio created that folder for me when the process began.) I identified the eventual destination URL as "http://www.stepno.com/oldblog/" -- clicked "Submit" to save those preferences, then (to be on the safe side) quit and restarted Radio to make sure the setting took...

2. From the Radio menu, chose "Publish/Entire Website" -- which took a long time. (I left home while it worked.)

The resulting collection of nested files looked complete.

3. After some trial-and-error, I used BareBones' free editor TextWrangler's multifile global search and replace to change all the embedded explicit href links within the blog, changing them from http://radio.weblogs.com/0106327/ to http://www.stepno.com/oldblog/

I also used a series of global searches to correct a glitch that left out the slash between ...oldblog/ and subdirectory names like .../oldblog/stories/... or .../oldblog/categories/... (Probably my fault: I left out the slash at the end of ".../oldblog/ in Radio's "Path" setting above.)

(Aside: I bought the same company's more powerful BBEdit for my other Mac, but just had TextWrangler on this laptop and was pleasantly surprised to find the full search-and-replace command.)

4. I used the Mac's built in archive command to turn the whole file structure into a zip file.

5. Then I used (also free) FileZilla to upload oldblog.zip to our Linux server,

6. I used the Mac's Terminal and SSH to log into the server and unzip the file, then..

7. Returned to FileZilla to set world-readable privileges through all those folders. (The Unix equivalent, I guess, would be a recursive "chmod" command.) In FileZilla you Right-click the main folder's name to get to the privilege-setting menu.

FileZilla took a very long time -- more than an hour! -- to work its way through the site, since it sets each individual file. A more experienced Unix commandline user probably has a faster way, but I had bothered Richard enough for one day.

In fact, there may be ten easier ways to do ALL of this, but for a not-ubergeek, my approach seems to have worked.

Meanwhile, I've already had this Blogger blog for years, so I'm using that (with an alias of http://stepno.com/blog). At some point I may install WordPress on my server at that address. I may even explore the arcane rituals involved in exporting the Radio blog to a MoveableType file, then importing it to WordPress. There are instructions for those things floating around the Web, thanks to other former Radio Userland users. But I've had enough geek-type summer fun for now.

Stop in and tell me if you see anything missing!


formerly (and until December) http://radio.weblogs.com/0106327/

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