After a lot of developing and debates, we are happy to announce our new blog is finally here!

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Although our blog may have looked OK, for many of us here in the office writing and editing blogs caused us (me) endless nightmares. The frustration of not being able to preview blogs before publishing is now a thing of the past. There's no need to be scared about switching between text/visual mode in case you lose chunks of code, or when WordPress is trying to be clever and add extra bits of HTML.

We had been using the same blog platform for years, and with the popularity of our blogs growing, our hacked together version of WordPress just wasn't working for us anymore. We were faced with two options:

  • Fix and try to update our existing WordPress blog, and run the risk of destroying and losing the blog all together
  • Or start from scratch by using a new blogging platform, and redesigning the whole blog.

After a few discussions, the web and marketing team decided to take the plunge and finally move away from WordPress and opt for Ghost.

Ghost is a fully open source, hackable platform for building and running a modern online publication.

Benefits of Ghost

The founders of Ghost went back to basics with blog editing - the editor is clean and simple, and simply focused on blog writing rather than trying to be a full CMS system that WordPress has now become. Ghost use Markdown to format the text, rather than HTML, which is becoming the standard in journilsim writing.

This is good news for our non-techy staff who aren't comfortable using HTML - they can go straight in and write blogs without any frustrations as and when they need to.

ghost-editor

Perhaps, the best part of Markdown is that you're never limited to just Markdown. You can write HTML directly in the editor and it will just work as HTML usually does, which is great for those who hate change and want to stick to HTML.

Another vital benefit for us was having better functionality and usability for our code blocks. This was one of the main reasons we thought about moving platforms in the first place. Although Ghost offers basic code blogs, we added the plug-in: prism.js. This deals with the code-highlighting, and also adding extra features like a copy button. For example:

<h1>hello world</h1> 

The transition

As the decision was made and the new blog theme was in development, the main hurdle to cross was moving the database over to Ghost.

Migrating your database from WordPress to Ghost

Ghost does offer a WordPress plug-in to help with the migration, which should export your WordPress site into a .json file that can then be imported into Ghost. However, due to the vast number of blogs we had we soon realised it hadn't transferred all of the blogs over!

Faced with the prospect of having to manually write all the blogs again, we discovered that WordPress has an inbuilt export tool that can export all the blogs into an XML file. This could then be transferred into a .json file and then finally import into Ghost - which we tried and seemed to work better!

So, we now had a fancy new blog theme and all the blogs migrated over, with all the same URLs and all the authors connected to their correct blogs- YAAAYYYY

Migrating over comments

ohhhh the nightmares of DISQUS! Anyone who has ever tried to migrate over their comments from two different platforms will know the pain we faced, 'surely if your posts have basically the same URLs the comments should just appear??' WRONG.

Whilst in development we had both our WordPress and Ghost site running at the same time using the same Disqus configuration, this thoroughly confused Disqus, causing it to have multiple threads on most of our blog posts which meant they were not appearing on either site.

In order to solve this, we needed to URL map all of the comments, which merged multiple threads - this can be done using Disqus migration tools. After waiting 24 hours for the migration to work, thinking at one point we had lost our comments altogether - years and years of comments started to randomly come back - DOUBLE YAYYYY

Although the migration process was painful at times, the rest of the development process was actually quite enjoyable.

I would highly recommend the move to Ghost. Ghost have excellent documentation to help you through from installation to developing your own theme, they also have their own slack channel for any unique problems and offer amazing support through this.

Since launching our new blog, the team here at Loadbalancer.org have fallen back in love writing blog posts! So hopefully, you should see the pace of new content increase in the next couple of weeks on a range of topics ;-)

I hope you like our blog, but if you think we can make any improvements, just let us know by leaving a comment below - any Ghost tips and tricks will also be appreciated!