Feb 18

Attending the Microsoft MVP Summit in Bellevue/Redmond, WA

I’m attending the annual Microsoft MVP Global Summit this week in Bellevue and Redmond, WA. This is actually my first experience at this event as I was awarded the MVP title this past summer for my support of Microsoft Access.

Over the years, FMS has had several Microsoft MVPs for Access including Dan Haught, Steve Clark, and Jim Ferguson who was one of the original MVPs when the program started 20 years ago. Book author Alison Balter and Portland Access User Group leader Jack Stockton join me as new MVPs this year. Last night we had a nice kickoff event with fellow Microsoft Access MVPs.

The MVP conference brings together 1500 professionals from across the world to this conference. The MVPs cover all the different product groups for Microsoft which offers a wonderful mix of expertise and enthusiasm. Over the next few days, the different Microsoft product groups will be providing presentations to attendees in an NDA environment. Sorry, I can’t share the content, but I can say it impacts our future planning.

Yesterday, they had a showcase of a variety of technologies from MVPs in the US plus companies from Taiwan, Japan, Germany, China, India, etc. It’s great to see the global impact of Microsoft.

How do you become an MVP? The usual path is to be involved in public forums answering questions and becoming an expert in the field. You don’t need to own a business to be an MVP. Other ways to be selected are to increase your professional visibility through products, writing books, blogs, etc. The MVP program is designed to recognize individuals who influence the market and help the community maximize the value of Microsoft products. So whether it’s XBox, Bing Maps, Dynamics, Exchange, Office 365, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, SharePoint, Visual Studio, Windows Phone, Word, etc., if you have a passion, expertise, and a willingness to share, the MVP community could be part of your future. Good luck!

Feb 12

Portland Oregon Microsoft Access User Conference

Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
May 4-6, 2013

FMS President Luke Chung is one of the featured speakers at this annual Microsoft Access conference hosted by the Portland Access User Group. This will be his third year speaking at this wonderful event.

Enjoy an amazing, rustic getaway to a beautiful state park with fellow Microsoft Access enthusiasts. Book early so you can stay at the limited number of cabins available at the conference center. The conference fees are amazing low and includes meals.

LightSwitch and Microsoft AccessLuke will participate in various talks on Microsoft Access development, running a business, and creating solutions using Visual Studio LightSwitch. He’ll also be staying at the site during the entire conference, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to meet him formally and informally.

For more information, visit the conference site.

Feb 11

Welcome to the New FMS Development Team Blog

Welcome to our New Blog

We’ve migrated our blog to WordPress from our previous BlogEngine.NET platform. We hope you like it.

WordPress has become the most common Blogging format, so we’re happy to simplify the process for people to participate in our blog with their WordPress login. We also gain considerably more options for designing the layout of our blog.

We could have started our new blog from scratch but since our existing blog existed for many years, we wanted to migrate it with all the comments from our BlogEngine.NET host to WordPress. That turned out to be a challenge that required learning the idiosyncracies of BlogEngine and WordPress. With the help of Microsoft Access, we created a table with the terms that needed to be translated, read the XML file from BlogEngine, then created a new XML file that WordPress would import.

For details of how we did it, visit
Migrating BlogEngine.NET Posts to WordPress with Translations Using Microsoft Access.

Feb 11

Migrating BlogEngine.NET Posts to WordPress with Translations Using Microsoft Access

Migrating Our Site from BlogEngine.NET

We could have started our new blog from scratch but since our existing blog existed for many years, we wanted to migrate it with all the comments from our BlogEngine.NET host to WordPress. That turned out to be a tricky process but we managed to do so. To help others who might be facing the same situation, here are the steps we followed so you don’t have to make the same mistakes we did:

Prepare the Existing Blogs for the Migration

The first step is to make sure your existing BlogEngine.NET blog is working properly and ready for export. One of the tricky and time-consuming parts of this is the reference to graphic files. BlogEngine stores its embedded graphics in its own structure using syntax similar to this (our blog was in the BLOG folder):

src=”/blog/image.axd?picture=banner.jpg”

Note that this only impacts graphics that were uploaded into BlogEngine. If you referenced images that already existing on your website, those references are fine and do not need to be modified.

To fix the image.axd? references and eliminate future dependencies, it’s best to store these graphics in your website explicitly. Once you save the graphic files, you can update your blogs to reference them. Saving the individual pictures is a manual process and you’ll need to decide where to store them on your website. You can then manually update the affected blog topics. Alternatively, you can do a search and replace later after exporting the blog’s XML file. We did a combination of both.

Export the existing BlogEngine.NET data to an XML file

Export the existing BlogEngine.NET data to an XML file. This is available as the last option under Settings from BlogEngine. The default name is BlogML.xml

Unfortunately, even if you fixed the picture image references, you’ll still need to translate the file to a format that WordPress can import. That requires making many changes. We actually exported the XML file, then parsed it to find the references to

src=”/blog/image.axd?

to identify any image references that were still in BlogEngine. That gave us the choice to either fix the original blog and re-export, or to fix it directly in the XML file.

Preparing WordPress

The WordPress import tools are under Tools, Import. To import the BlogML file, you need to install the appropriate WordPress PlugIn. The BlogML plugin that worked for us was BlogML-WordPress-Import.zip which can be found here. You’ll need administrator write rights to your WordPress folders to install this.

Before you modify the BlogML file, you may want to import it to see the problems that need to be addressed in WordPress. You can do so and trash them in WordPress without any harm.

Using Permalinks with Post Names

By default, WordPress saves and displays its posts by ID number in the URL. If you want posts to have more meaningful names which also helps with SEO, you should set the preference under Settings, Permalinks, and choose Post. We set this but the pages triggered a 404, Missing File problem.

We discovered that this translation didn’t work on our WordPress host (Windows using IIS) unless we added a web.config file in the root of the blog with this information:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<configuration>
  <system.webServer>
    <rewrite>
      <rules>
        <rule name="Main Rule" stopProcessing="true">
          url=".*" />
          <conditions logicalGrouping="MatchAll">
            <add input="{REQUEST_FILENAME}" matchType="IsFile" negate="true" />
            <add input="{REQUEST_FILENAME}" matchType="IsDirectory" negate="true" />
          </conditions>
          <action type="Rewrite" url="index.php/{R:0}" />
        </rule>
      </rules>
    </rewrite>
  </system.webServer>
</configuration>

Translating the BlogXML file with Microsoft Access

Now that we established the foundation to import the XML file and display the posts with the proper Permalinks, we could see several things still need to be fixed. It was relative easy to do with multiple search and replace terms. We did this in Microsoft Access:

  • Create a table with two text fields. One for the Original value and one for the New value to replace it. We then populated the table with the terms to translate:
    • Hyperlink references. Since we migrated our blog from a subfolder (www.fmsinc.com/blog) to its own subdomain (blog.fmsinc.com), we needed to modify all the hyperlink references that were pointing to our web pages to explicitly point to our www.fmsinc.com web site. That meant, we needed to adjust our href=”/ syntax to “href=”http://www.fmsinc.com/”, so we added these two values to our table.
    • Existing Image references. Similarly, we needed to adjust our image src=”/ references for graphic files to “src=”http://www.fmsinc.com/”, so they were added. Note, we didn’t search for “img src”  because many references included style settings between the “img” and “src”. 
    • New Image references. This is also the time to add any explicit image.axd? references to the new location of the graphics if you didn’t want to manually edit the original posts.
  • Total Visual SourceBookBlogEngine saves category names as GUIDs and references the GUIDs in each post. If you don’t translate these, they’ll be imported into WordPress with the GUID rather than readable category name. We used the CXMLSettings class from Total Visual SourceBook to read the categories section of the XML file so we could pair the GUID and category names.
  • Perform the Search and Replace
    Once the table contains all the terms to translate, we wrote a simple routine to read the XML file into a variable, then go through the table and use the VBA REPLACE function for each record. When we were finished, we wrote the text to a new XML file for WordPress to import.
  • From WordPress, import the new file using the BlogML import plugin.

Because we programmatically perform the translation process, it was easy to test, run, and refined the entire process when things didn’t work correctly. It took us a few iterations but we were pleasantly surprised how well the posts came across.

We found that we needed to manually touch up some of our posts. The HTML in WordPress doesn’t require the use of paragraph styles (<p> </p>) to define each paragraph and automatically strips them out. Unfortunately, it displays the line breaks in paragraphs which is normally ignored in HTML syntax. We had to manually edit and delete those so the posts properly word-wrapped.