Migrate from Drupal to Blogger

For this new version of our blog we decided to migrate from Drupal to Blogger. Drupal is a great and versatile CMS, but Blogger offers several advantages to us.

Blogger advantages over Drupal

  • Blogger is free.
  • Blogger doesn’t require any maintenance.
  • Drupal is not well suited to shared hosting and performance suffers from it, meaning you either have to spend time optimizing it to perform well or you need to spend more money to host it.
  • Less time spent on security and performance, means more time to focus on content.
  • Blogger is complex enough to allow the necessary customization and branding for most blogs, while simple enough that you don’t need to spend a lot of time configuring it.

Drupal advantages over Blogger

  • Drupal is a full CMS, with all that comes with it.
  • You can build custom functionality or install a third party plugin to extend it. Blogger widgets in comparison are very limited and there are a lot of things you just can’t do with Blogger.
  • Drupal is better suited to multilanguage scenarios (we will explain how we overcame this in Blogger in a new article).
  • With Blogger you’re limited to what you can do on the client side. Things like generating sitemaps, conditionally showing ads or redirecting based on the user country become more cumbersome to do.

How to migrate from Drupal to Blogger

Migrating from Drupal to Blogger wasn’t very hard, but it was time consuming.

Migrating content and comments

I used the drupal2blogger script (by Nico Schlömer) to export the content from Drupal. Because I had different content types than the default ones and because we have content in more than one language, I had to tweak the script a little bit. The script is fairly simple and if you know PHP you should be able to accommodate it to your needs.

We used and still use Disqus for the comments, so the migration for the comments was done separately (we will explore that in a future article).

Updating HTML and links

The most time consuming part was updating the HTML and internal links in the content. I guess that’s part of any migration.

We wanted to clean up the HTML, add some common structure (for attachments, article to article navigation in a series, etc.) and change the syntax highlighter. We automated as much as most we could through regexes, but there was still the need to manually correct each article.

Migrating images and attachments

Images were somewhat painful to migrate, because we had to update each source. When you create a blog in Blogger, a Picasa web album will be automatically created for you. You can store the images there freely.

Attachments were not that complicated, since we didn’t have that many. We created a public folder in Google Drive and place all our files there. Then for each attachment you have to get the direct link to the Google Drive file.

Redirects in Blogger

Blogger allows you to create redirects (Settings > Search preferences > Errors and redirections > Custom Redirects), which is essential since we’re migrating to a different URL scheme and don’t want to lose any traffic.

I had to set up over 300 redirects. To do this, I used a wonderful tool called iMacros for Chrome, which basically helps you automate things like form filling. I made one big script and let it run on the browser.

Sitemap

Generating the sitemap ended up being easier than expected. You can use the Blogger Sitemap Generator, which basically generates the robot.txt code and uses the atom feed of your blog.

Conclusion

Those were the basic steps we took to migrate. We built a new layout, so we had no intentions to migrate the old look. In any case, it would be a lot of work to migrate a Drupal template to a Blogger one, so making a new one makes more sense.

If you are starting a new blog and are considering between Drupal and Blogger, think seriously if Drupal is what you really want. Only in very specific circumstances will Drupal be better for a blog. We chose Drupal in the past because we wanted more control and Blogger wasn’t as mature as it is now, but there is a price in complexity.

If you are using Drupal, know that you can migrate to Blogger when you want. It comes with a cost, but it is certainly feasible.