Changing Content Management Systems

Having long been an advocate of several open source content management systems, I’ve also done the difficult task several times of moving content from one system to another.   Given these systems rarely (if ever) have built in export and import abilities (WordPress being one of them however), you can expect to do much of such a conversion by hand, one article at a time.  If you have a large amount of content, obviously, this is a very time consuming and expensive endeavor.  Moving users and passwords would require several complex database queries and testing as one must also understand how the passwords are encrypted. It’s a painful process and often too expensive for many clients to consider doing.

CMS2CMS

Here’s a resource to make this no longer an issue. CMS2CMS.com can make the conversion from one CMS to another in a matter of minutes.  They’ve written the complex scripts needed to perform these tasks and appear to be adding to the list of what they can support all the time.   They even have a script that will spider a site and push the content into the CMS of your choosing — take a look at the HTML to CMS path.  Here is the full list of supported platforms.

I used their services to move a Joomla based website running on 1.x Joomla to the latest WordPress version and their tools captured all of the content and most importantly, moved all 138 members of the old site to the new.  This was done in about 10 minutes time, including the time for me to put their “bridge” script on the client’s server.  This allowed me to get the conversion done in an amazingly fast way — my client could not be happier.  Me, too.

Open Source Time Management Software – timeEdition is Perfect

timeEdition

For years I used TimeSlice on my Macintosh (it’s a cross-platform app though) for tracking my freelance hours.  It was simple, easy to setup for jobs and printed out a nice report for my clients to see.  However, it wasn’t open source.  It wasn’t expensive either, really, but I like the idea of using an OS app that I can contribute to if needed both in terms of feedback or code edits for improvement.  Having updated my version of Mac OS  somewhat recently, it was time to look for a good replacement.  I found something I think I’m coming to like even more than my trusty old TimeSlice app.  timeEdition.

This little app (and Dashboard widget if you are so inclined) does all I need it to do and more.  With it, I can setup clients, projects, tasks and the rates applied to each of these tasks.  The ability to specify a different rate for simpler tasks is something I valued a great deal in TimeSlice.  With TimeSlice, you had to have a file for each client – not so for timeEdition.  I can shift between clients and tasks in one simple (and small) interface.  See this screenshot provided by the developer –

timeEdition Version 4.x

Note that there are multiple windows shown here, but that’s just to give you the different color options really.  Note also that this app is cross-platform, too.  There’s a Macintosh, Windows and Linux version!  Very nicely done.

manage your projects with timeEditionAnother feature I found extremely useful is the ability to select where the database file and backup file one can create are stored on your computer.  I chose to put mine in a DropBox folder so that I could have assured backup and potentially do work on another machine if needed.  I had configured some clients, projects and tasks before changing my database location over though and these items were not automatically moved to the new location.  Beware of that.  It was a pretty simple process to find the default location and import my data into the new database, too, but that’s really the only complaint I can make about this very well laid out and simple tool.  The reporting is more than sufficient for my needs too.

If you are in need of a time logging tool, I highly recommend timeEdition.

 

Mantis – Open Source Bug Tracker

Mantis Bug Tracker

Need a great tool for bug reports?  Want something that will help facilitate your quality assurance process?  Mantis is simple open source tool that fits this bill quite nicely.

Mantis is both a wonderful tool, and at times a source of frustration for me.  It’s very helpful in guiding reporters of issues during a quality assurance period.  I like the tools ability to help get issues reported fully so that developers can understand fully what the issue is and how it can be recreated – assuming that the reporter has indeed completed the bug report form completely and accurately.  If this is done correctly, this tool is great.

Features include:

  • User levels with different permissions
  • File uploads for screenshots or other
  • An intuitive interface with custom search refinements
  • Email notifications
  • Login / password protected management
  • Public and private projects may be created
  • An easy installation

It can’t stop people from submitting reports that are duplicates or incomplete, but it does do a good job of guiding all users to a well documented bug report.

Dropbox

DropBoxI’ve known about Dropbox for quite a long while but hadn’t really checked it out until recently. I’m an instant fan!

Years ago, I used YouSendIt for some similar feature. I found their service to be both annoying and also heavy on the “let’s-spam-the-*&#@!-out-of-you” marketing style, which pretty much guarantees more than just a thumbs down in my world.

Having used Dropbox for the past month, I can only sing its praises.  It does everything I could want it to do, and so far, flawlessly.  The 2 gig free account suits me perfectly right now but I could see using a paid service if I needed it, too.

For anyone not familiar with this tool, here’s a list of the features –

  • It installs a folder on your hard drive that is for your ‘Dropbox’ files
  • This folder is then synced – folder and files and all – to your Dropbox account
  • You can have a “public” folder that you may direct people to for downloading files without needing to share your Dropbox account username and password
  • You may authorize more than one computer to connected to your account
  • Every time records are updated on your computer, an onscreen notice is generated
  • There is an iPhone and iPad app, too

This is a great tool for anyone that needs to have a set of files always available to them wherever there’s an Internet connection.  For me, this is highly more suitable than a thumb or flash drive and with 2 gigs, that’s plenty of space.  I store my encrypted password “KeyPassX” file there, a backup of my Transmit FTP bookmarks (also encrypted) and several work files.  I could also see using it for a TiddlyWiki page for GTD use, too.