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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Migration tool update: launching tonight

A more complete post will follow when the tool is available in production later tonight, but we wanted to let you know that we are in the process of pushing the latest Blogger build which contains the FTP Migration Tool. Before we release it, we will do a final sanity test to ensure that everything behaves as it should - and expect to push it first to Draft and a short time later to www.

I did a screencast of the tool to give you an idea of how this will work. This assumes you're moving from an FTP blog to a Custom Domain; we'll do a separate screencast (likely later tonight) showing the same process but moving to a Blogspot URL.

26 comments:

  1. Quick questions from the video:

    FEEDBURNER - if we've consolidated all feeds to FeedBurner, in my case http://feeds.feedburner.com/KitchenParade, won't the feeds be automatically be transferred as well, so that RSS/e-mail subscribers need do nothing but will automatically remain subscribed to the same feed?

    USER EXPERIENCE - what will the visitors experience during the transition period, will the site be 'down', will a 404 message be presented? what? I know that with my current host, I can actually MODIFY that message in advance, so they are told what's happening, how long it's expected to last, etc.

    TIME - what will be the duration of the transition period, a few minutes, a few hours? How can we estimate the length of the duration?

    SUPPORT - I don't know how many sites are in the .5% of Google blogs but it must be a bunch. Will there be a transition schedule to fit into, to ensure the availability of support mid-stream or at the other end?

    CSS/IMAGES - I'm not understanding the significance of the Missing Files Host. CSS and all photos are hosted at http://kitchenparade.com/uploaded_images/. Are you saying that these will NOT transfer, that they will continue to be hosted on Network Solutions, my current host? Doesn't this split up the site without benefit and with continuing expense? Where would NEW photos be hosted? If they're at Blogger-Host, doesn't this split up the site and force page loads from two sources, one of the things that Google is encouraging us to STOP doing, in order to speed up page loads?

    Okay, sorry, that last one's not so quick.

    Thanks for your help, Rick and Team.

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  2. Will this tool also migrate Draft Posts as well? We have a few blog posts that were once live but are now saved as Drafts, although we don't want to lose these as we will be making them live in the future. Are we going to lose our Draft posts or will the migration tool migrate the Drafts as well?

    Thanks (the tool looks very easy to use and very straightforward!)

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  3. I've gone to my dashboard and there is no notice about the migration tool. Do I just need to wait until tomorrow?

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  4. @Alanna: 1: If you use FeedBurner, after you migrate, you'll want to update your source feed in FeedBurner to pull from the new URL's feed address. Users will not have to update anything.

    2. At no time will your FTP server go down. We simply republish your blog, including two lines of add'l code, along with a final post (that also gets written to your feed), announcing the new URL. (In your case that's not strictly necessary, but not all users use FeedBurner, so we needed a generic solution that would work for all users.)

    3. Not counting DNS propagation (if you register the CNAME ahead of time, you won't need to wait), the only time limiting factor is the time it takes to do a full republish. The rest of the process is quite simple - the screencast I did was filmed in real time. Took just a couple minutes (full republish may take you longer, depending on the size of the blog).

    4. Not sure what you mean by support: we're not going anywhere, this blog will remain active and we're also setting up a dedicated forum to aid with questions.

    5. CSS/Images will not be affected. Use the missing files host to ensure links will continue to work post migration (you set that up after the migration tool completes, or if you choose to migrate manually, during your manual switch-over).

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  5. @Lisa: Draft posts will not be affected, and will remain in your blog's dashboard for you to return to later.

    @Stephen: The code push completed within the hour, we're now doing the sanity checking before flipping the switch. Will be soon (within the hour), unless something unexpected arises.

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  6. Rick and Google Blogger Team:

    Please clarify - I have important concerns that I cannot find answers to anywhwere (and I've spent days looking through all of your blogs) :

    (First a note: I'm also concerned about the transition period affecting search traffic and users getting missing files, not to mention the effect on page ranks, SEO and so on. It seems like it would make more sense to 301 all of the old URLs on my host's server to another platform - like WordPress - rather than to trust that the migration tool and Custom Domain architecture will address/reconcile/handle the concerns raised below.)

    Another note: For me, I have hundreds of posts going back to 2006 and lots of drafted posts as well that I hope to someday complete. Will the drafts be lost? Does the backup - which seems to only publish as XML file - backup drafts as well???

    For the Custom Domain: In the video you show that you are declaring a subdomain to do your migration. I don't understand that (unless you are saying that www. is treated as a subdomain). Why would you need a subdomain (like blog.yourdomain.com) rather than the root domain? (www.yourdomain.com) Is that a requirement? So once FTP publishing ends, will the existing www.yourdomain.com still work as a Custom Domain?

    Also, what about archives/, labels/, 2008/ and 2009/ subfolders and filenames created by Blogger FTP publishing? Will the migration tool redirect and rel=canonical all of those existing pages?

    Just to be clear about the last point, after migrating, the following EXISTING folders AND the file names will no longer exist and require the migration tool to meta refresh/rel=canonical label pages, archive pages and post-title pages??

    If the answer to that is YES, why wouldn't the custom domain architecture in Blogger PRESERVE the *EXISTING* folder/filenames to avoid all of the messiness?

    For example, EXISTING (published via Blogger FTP) subfolder/filename structures:

    http://www.yourdomain.com/archives/2007_06_01_index.html

    http://www.yourdomain.com/labels/some-label-name.html

    http://www.yourdomain.com/2010/03/the-title-of-the-post.html

    As a test, I bought a new domain with the same registrar (NOT via Google's Custom Domain), changed the CNAME records to Google, and then successfully ADDED it as a Google Custom Domain using of a new blog I created using the Classic Template (which allows more flexibility - oddly - than the NEW template module).

    Why was /search/ subfolder added to the URL? Why was labels changed to label (no plural) and why was the .HTML extension removed? DOES the migration tool address each of these THREE considerations just for the LABELS themselves? (God, what a mess)

    To reiterate, Labels - again using CLASSIC template - in the *new* Custom Domain publishing architecture sets the following URL for a label page (please compared these to above example) as:

    http://www.yourdomain.com/search/label/some-label-name/

    whereas the default in Blogger FTP was

    http://www.yourdomain.com/labels/some-label-name.html

    Does the migration tool correct this?

    1. the addition of the /search/ folder (whatever that means?) ?

    2. the dropping of the plural from labels/ to label/ ??

    3. the dropping of the .html extension from the name of the label page and thus URL?

    (Note: From SEO and management POV, these changes in Custom Domain publishing realm of treatment of 'labels' do not make sense.)

    (Note: If the migration tool does not address each of the three examples above - just talking about labels right now - Is there a way to PRESERVE the http://www.yourname.com/labels/some-label-name.html WITHOUT being forced to have all existing instance of http://www.yourdomain.com/labels/some-label-name.html become 404s?

    Additionally, if these folders and filenames for existing label pages, archive pages, post title pages are on my non-Google server, will the migration tool delete or alter them, and if so, why?

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  7. Also:

    Is there a way to reverse test Custom Domain back to FTP publishing (and then back again? for testing purposes and to test migration tool). ?

    For example, to test the Custom Domain treatment, I bought a new domain with my registrar, changed the CNAMES to Google's, and then converted a new blog in classic template to Custom Domain.

    Now, I want to go in and change that test blog back to FTP publishing (and change it back again before I migrate my main existing, years held domain - so I can see the shortfalls), but the only choice is blogspot publishing. Therefore, I'm assuming that even though May 1st is the cut off date for FTP publishing, a blog/domain using Custom Domain cannot be reverted to FTP publishing prior to May 1 deadline?

    Thanks

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  8. All right, this is dumb. I waited 3 weeks to do this because I wanted the tool to help me do the redirects, instead of fiddling around with 301 redirects or htaccess. And now I have the tool, and I try asking it to move my blog from www.dsng.net to www.dsng.net - basically, with no change. And instead, I get a message saying that if I want it on www, I need to do Advanced setup, and saying I need to move the blog manually, in case there are missing files. I mean, I don't mind a warning, but it's galling that it won't even let me take the risk and go ahead. Completely infuriated.

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  9. To add to my further comment, so looking at my Dashboard, it looks like custom domains are set up, but I have zero idea if the redirection is set up and in place, and what has happened to my search results. The migration tool seems pretty much not particularly useful for people who publish on www, rather than other subdomains. Or am I missing something?

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  10. To vent further: I can't even set up a Missing Files host, having used the migration tool. Despite the reassuring "Blogs using our custom domain feature will see an additional option on the Settings | Publishing tab regarding a missing files host", I have now a nice screencap of the Settings | Publishing tab with the missing files host option missing.

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  11. @Daryl: In user testing, we saw too many cases where users who knew exactly what they wanted - as you do - nevertheless inadvertently wiped existing files off the net. In one case, a user earlier this week (not using our tool, but doing this manually) had their ISP remove their account, resulting in the files being gone completely.

    There was simply no way to programmatically guarantee that we wouldn't put the user in a corner case that would result in precisely the one place we didn't want them: a blog with broken links to files and images. As you have no doubt seen in looking at the comments here, FTP users span the spectrum of sophisticated users to basic users - and we need the tool to work for as many as possible. If you can handle the DNS config and the basics of htaccess, then you can do the migration manually and not risk any possibility of the tool guessing your intent.

    Re: the inability to set up the missing files host, I'll contact you directly and see what's wrong. That's clearly not supposed to happen.

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  12. @googe: No, there's no way to revert once a blog has been migrated.

    1: Drafts will not be lost.

    2. "www" can absolutely be set up as a Custom Domain, but not through the migration tool. Reasoning is in the comment I left above.

    3. Yes, the migration tool properly redirects to the new naming convention.

    4. If you use the migration tool, yes, we will update any pages published by Blogger to include the redirects to their counterparts on the Blogger-hosted blog. If you would rather have more control about what points where, you're free to manually migrate (or point the files elsewhere, off Blogger).

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  13. @Rick - "Once again, things that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!"

    I appreciate that you don't want people to lose files, but if you weren't going to make the tool work for people who publish on www, why not just say so beforehand? Yes, I can figure out the htaccess necessary, but now that I've run the tool, I seem to be in some sort of limbo where I can't even have a missing files host to help my readers see the files which the Tool claims to have been so concerned about.

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  15. @Rick - said to you via e-mail but I now see the problem with the missing files host. Since I was an FTP user, I wasn't used to the new Publishing settings with Custom Domains, and didn't realise I actually had to click on "Advanced Settings" under Publishing to find all those settings (what was showing was the screen about trying to get me to buy a domain). So that's a relief.

    Still annoyed that I waited all that time for something I didn't need to wait for. I'll move my other blog manually. Just extremely frustrating all around.

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  16. Well, I'm so very very very glad to see we finally dropped that very problematic and difficult to follow rule about "doing no evil". That's been slowing you guys down. Do I have your attention now?

    I've been using Blogger since 2003. I have a mix of FTP and custom domain blogs (total on Blogger: 17) that I use for a variety of my hobbies and interests.

    One of the things that I've used to my advantage is that you can post via FTP to two separate blogs into the same hosting account or even the same folder. For instance, these blogs were all in different sub-folders of the same main site:
    *Friends of ArcoJedi
    *Musical Holocron
    *Mudhorny
    *R-Quotes
    *Lisa is 30!!!
    Since all of these were posted with .ASP file extensions and my own includes on the back end, I got to do some more advanced stuff over the years that 'widgets' just aren't going to cover.

    One of my blogs - http://arconati.net/ - is even hosted in the same site as a separate wordpress site - http://james.a.arconati.net/ - and the two do not interfere. I could have the first site also be .PHP, though it's just .HTML files right now. With your plans to drop FTP, I'm not even sure there's a way to continue what I'm doing now. Unless of course, I simply install Wordpress and import all posts and be done with it.

    Additionally, for clients that want a simple blog added to their existing site in a subdirectory, your FTP was a lot easier to implement than Wordpress. I've got some projects on complete hold now because of your changes.

    The more knowledgeable 0.5% of us who know what we are doing enough to get FTP to work and care enough to do more advanced things with the blogger tools on our own hosted sites, we are your most loyal fans. When asked the Wordpress vs. Blogger question, I have always stated that they both have very valid and useful features with plenty of expansion. I have recommended Blogger just a little bit more because I simply had more experience with it and I couldn't think of anything I couldn't do with it.

    Now? Yeah, not so much.

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  17. The migration tool is still not appearing in my dashboard. Is it being rolled out in phases?

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  18. I switched to Blogger in Draft and found it.

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  19. Not sure if this has been covered, but do the atom.xml files get updated and also redirected? I might have many users pointing to the old place for the atom.xml after migration, and can atom.xml files be redirected? I'm not so sure about that...

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  20. @Dan: The only way to redirect XML files is via .htaccess (more here: http://httpd.apache.org/docs/1.3/howto/htaccess.html), which is not something we can do for you automatically. You can configure that yourself, but one of the reasons we post the final "This blog has moved..." posts is so that gets written to the feed, which then provides subscribers with the new URL.

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  21. Rick:

    Can you please confirm this:

    If we use Custom Domain to publish rather than years of doing it FTP, we can NO LONGER keep www.yourdomainname.com, but must instead use something like blog.yourdomainname.com ??

    If TRUE, why is this?

    If NOT TRUE, then we can always keep www.yourdomainname.com with Blogger Custom Domain regardless of the web host?

    You realize that most people with a www.yourdomainname.com will lose significant type in traffic and even with a 301 redirect will lose on branding.

    Thanks

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  22. Rick and Team:

    To amend my last question: OK, so it looks like www. for an existing domain that used FTP publishing will NO longer be able to be used with switching to Custom Domain AND using the migration tool.

    Can you please confirm that the existing domain, changed to Custom Domain publishing, WITHOUT using the migration tool can be preserved for www. subdomain?

    Also, I assume that Google will honor 301 redirects from old FTP naming conventions (such as labels/, archives/, and post-title-name.html posts) - as in honor I mean preserve those page ranks.

    OR should the 301 redirects be executed in the Webmaster account RATHER THAN the server side 301 redirects?

    Thanks.

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  23. Apologies:

    One more amended question:

    Switching to Custom Domain publishing - without using the migration tool - won't that mean that older folders/files created by Blogger FTP will be preserved (page rank and 200 http status codes) because those folders/files already exist on the FTP server, and isn't this the same case for images (such as the logo imgs/logo.jpg) ???

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  24. KEEP your old site... use this script:

    http://www.documentroot.com/2010/03/how-to-fix-bloggers-ftp-bug.html

    If you can't run it, let me now i'll run it for you. I have it running for 4 blogs. Works great.

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  25. Note: Comments are closed on this post. Please direct general questions to the FAQ page, and specific problems with the migration tool to the issue tracker. More details about support for the FTP migration are here.

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