In the spirit of Own Your Words I recently completed importing all 81 articles I published on my “Windows Live Quantum Mechanics” blog on MSDN while I worked at Microsoft in the Windows Live development group (2006-2007). These articles are now archived on my personal web site under the Windows Live Quantum Mechanics category.
I’d like to give a huge thanks to John Wood of Allyis Inc for his assistance in extracting the post content from the MSDN database for me, and to Scott Hanselman for being my champion in the search to figure out a way to extract the articles from the old MSDN blog. Scott introduced me to John, and John made it happen. Thank you both!
Why So Complicated?
Normally, transferring blog content from one server to another is fairly simple and straightforward – you just import the RSS from the old blog into the new blog using an RSS import plugin. Content migration in ten minutes or less.
That didn’t work for importing from my MSDN blog because MSDN only includes the last 10 articles in its RSS feeds. Support for REST-like pagination of the RSS feed (either as link elements in the feed or as URL query params) to reach articles further back in time would have been a way to work around this, but MSDN’s feeds don’t support pagination.
There are many WordPress plugins available that automate blog content transfer from specific blog services or APIs, such as Blogger, Moveable Type, etc. To avoid RSS pitfalls and get full access to all your content including comments, most of these plugins require login access to your old blog account.
I don’t know of any plugins that directly import from whatever system MSDN is running, but that doesn’t really matter because I didn’t start thinking about transferring my blog content off MSDN until after I had left Microsoft and lost access to the MSDN account.
Things might have been simpler if I had the presence of mind to make some sort of archive or database dump before closing the account. Ah, hindsight. We’ll file that one under “educational opportunity”.
Ravages of Time
Many of these old articles talk about or demo tech bits that were current at the time of publication but have long since faded away. Microsoft’s Windows Live online platform has gone through many changes as Microsoft went through the process of figuring out what the new social networking and cloud networking really meant – to Microsoft. Microsoft’s current Windows Azure cloud services platform reflects a lot of the lessons learned from Windows Live. Windows Live itself, though, is long gone, lights out, 404.
I’m not going to remove broken links from the archived articles. The articles are readable without following the links.
In the fullness of time, historical content (in the software industry at least) is less about the details and more about the journey.