Monday, January 2, 2006

Upgrading To WordPress 2.0

Last week really threw things out of kilter.

First, we had to resolve the issues with code I wrote. You see, I had some features on this little blog that I wrote. Now I'm not a programmer. I know a little bit of coding, but I'm not an expert like some others. In particular, I took some plug-ins that others had written and made some changes to them.

What's a plug-in, you ask? Well, WordPress (that's the blogging software we're using here) allows blogs to add features by adding plug-ins. Think of it like adding a room or a carport/garage on to your house. Or adding a scanner to your computer system. The idea is something is added to something else to expand its functions.

With WordPress, there are plug-ins that reduce spam, for instance. I'm also using a plug-in that shows the most recent comments in the column on the side. That kind of stuff.

By default, WordPress lumps comments and TrackBacks together as comments. But I like them separate. And there was a plug-in that did just that. I modified it to allow me to display it in a way it wasn't designed. And I'm thinking I screwed something up. Oh, it worked, but not efficiently. And the Web host I'm using (Dreamhost) sent me a nasty-gram about the "resources" on the server I was using up.

So, I had to fix it. But, I had made lots and lots of changes to many, many pages of code. So much so that disabling a plug-in caused the blog to quit working. I had to clean up my mess.

So, I backed everything up and decided to start over with clean code, then add the plug-ins I needed, taking care to be smarter about how I implemented things.

That's when trouble began. You see, Dreamhost had already upgraded new installations to WordPress 2.0 ... and I was running WordPress 1.5.2 ... and my database backup wasn't compatible!

So I was screwed! Or so I thought for a minute. Then I calmed down and figured a way out.

I found an old copy of WordPress (the same version I had been running) and installed it. Restoring the database worked just fine. Then I went ahead and upgraded to WordPress 2.0, since the upgrade method works just find. (My original attempt to put WordPress 2.0 on wasn't actually an upgrade, since I had wiped everything. It was a "clean" install, and the database I had wouldn't work with a "clean" install, but it did with an upgrade. Computers. Bah!)

Then, I had to find plug-ins that work. Did you know that some plug-ins don't work with 2.0? Well, they don't.

Spam Karma, for one. Oh, it works. Catches spam, lets good stuff through. But for me, it screws with the date of posts. All new posts show up dated in 1969! That's not good.

WordPress 2.0 comes with a spam filter called Akismet. It works, but it gets more false positives than Spam Karma. It hasn't let anything improper through, but it's treating lots as spam that it shouldn't. More so than Spam Karma.

Travis Benning (Metaphysically Wrinkle Free) is currently running both Spam Karma and Akismet. So far, no problems, but neither he nor I are recommending you do that. He's going to watch it for a bit. But so far, no issues. He did mention that it appears that Akismet runs first, then anything it lets through is then checked by Spam Karma. But, the general consensus if that running two isn't wise. We'll keep you posted.

On the other hand, the Commissar had no problem at all with Spam Karma 2, once he installed a patch. So it appears that, if you prefer Spam Karma, you might want to try it. If you have no problems with it, you're in good shape. Likewise, PaulaO of Thought Patterns had Spam Karma issues that were resolved with Spam Karma 2.1 (beta). I followed the suggestions for installing the beta version, and it works. However, because it's still in beta, I'm not recommending it. Yet.
Oh, I had some code on the blog that caused it to break out of frames. It's just something I always put on sites I'm involved with. But you can't do that with WordPress 2.0. You see, when you write a post, WordPress 2.0 shows an actual copy of the post in a frame on the same page. And the break-out-of-frames code I had interferred. Had I read things carefully, I would have known, since there is a plug-in that does the same thing that's on the list of "incompatible" plug-ins.

The final issue I've encountered with WordPress 2.0 relates to TrackBacks. Oh, I receive them just fine. But sending them with the WordPress 2.0 interface doesn't seem to work. I can send them with third-party forms, so it's not the receiving site; it's the sending site.

If I had done a better job of reading up on WordPress 2.0, perhaps I'd have know about these things, and wouldn't have had to figure them out. So, if you have a WordPress blog, and are looking at 2.0, keep these things in mind:

  • Not all plug-ins are compatible. Check the plug-in compatibility list before you upgrade.

  • Spam Karma doesn't work. Okay, it does, but all your posts will be dated 1969. At least, it's not officially compatible. You might not want to use it until a compatible version is released.

  • Akismet is a fairly good anti-spam plug-in. It works, but it doesn't allow nearly as much configuration as Spam Karma. It catches more than it should, so you got to check the queue more often.

  • There's a big change in the database structure. You can't backup a 1.5 database and restore it to 2.0.

  • Many have encountered problems with TrackBacks not working as expected.

Bottom line, if you're upgrade to WordPress 2.0 from a lower version of WordPress, be sure to read the WordPress documentation carefully.

If you're looking to move to WordPress from another platform, that's a "clean installation" and you shouldn't have any issues.

Either way, be careful when adding plug-ins. Not all 1.5-compatible plug-ins work.

Take it from someone who's been there.


  1. Unfortunately, you're experiences are going to save the rest of a lot of headaches. I had someone ask me about moving from Blogger to WP and I just sent them to you. I know what you went through sucks the big one, but we'll all be better in the end for it :)

  2. Oh man, my head hurts just reading that! I'm so glad that you found a fix...


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