Tag Archives: import

Ning nonsense is an opportunity for WordPress and BuddyPress developers

Another chapter in the Ning saga (see my previous posts on the subject): In the past few days, Ning has been sending out emails indicating that they’ll be wiping out non-premium networks in the course of the next couple weeks (see, for example, this blog post).

It’s no coincidence, of course, that I’ve gotten a number of emails in the last few days about support and/or paid consultation for Ning -> BuddyPress migrations, based on my free plugin Import From Ning. Unfortunately, I’m currently swamped with work, and I’m not available for active plugin support or for paid migration gigs related to Ning.

If you are a WordPress developer looking for work, this is a golden opportunity. For one thing, you can make a good amount of money helping folks to migrate their Ning data to BuddyPress, and generally helping to customize their BuddyPress installations. Most of the hard work is done for you: my Import From Ning plugin, while buggy and in need of some updates for recent versions of WordPress (in particular, the plugin has crummy error handling), has all of the logic you’ll need to parse Ning’s JSON files and process them for BP import. Even if you don’t know much about BuddyPress, you’ll find that the BuddyPress parts of the process are already spelled out for you. You might even learn something about BP along the way!

Furthermore, those developers who are really intrepid could take this opportunity to help the Ning/BP users more generally by taking over development on Import From Ning. If you are doing client work anyway, which may require fixing bugs and adding improvements in the plugin, why not contribute it back to the distribution version? By doing so, you’ll not only be helping to grow the BP community (and the cause of free software over proprietary services!), but you’ll be making a name for yourself as a contributor/committer to a popular plugin. In other words, it’s great publicity, and you’ll be creating a market for your services down the road.

If you are a WordPress or BuddyPress developer who is interested in receiving referrals for Ning migrations, and/or if you’re interested in making contributions to Import From Ning itself, let me know and I’ll add you to my list. (You can leave a comment below, or send me an email – boone <at> gorg <dot> es.)

New WordPress plugin: Simple Import Users

My palz Mikhail and Luke over at Blogs@Baruch needed an easier way to add users to sites in the WordPress network. They’d been using DDImportUsers, which worked, but was finicky: DDIU required you to specify too much information, its formatting was tough for instructors to understand, and, most importantly, it didn’t deal well with existing accounts, which it simply ignored instead of adding as new users to the site in question. So they asked me to modify the plugin for their purposes.

The result is a near-complete rewrite, released today under the name Simple Import Users. Instead of entering all sorts of information about username, password, display names, etc, Simple Import Users accepts only a single argument: email address. That makes it simple enough for anyone to use. Insert a list of email addresses into Simple Import Users, and it checks each email address in the following way:

  • If a WP user is *not* found with the email address in question, SIU creates a new user with that address. The username is automatically generated from the part of the email address before the @-sign, which means that this plugin will probably work best for those setups where you can guarantee unique email prefixes (like schools). Passwords are randomly generated.
  • Then the new user (or the existing user, if one was found) is added to the blog.
  • The user is then sent a customized welcome email. All users get a message saying that they’ve been added to the blog, with information on how to access the dashboard. In the case of new users, it contains their login info as well.
  • If you’re running BuddyPress, the email to new users also contains a message encouraging users to fill out their BP profiles, with a link to the Edit Profile page.

The plugin has no settings, and is intended for this very specific purpose. But if you’ve got a setup like Blogs@Baruch, it could save you a lot of time and effort.

Get the Simple Import Users here.

More Import from Ning goodness – ( Ning to BuddyPress / WordPress )

As promised in my last post, I’ve reworked the Import from Ning WordPress plugin so that it is BuddyPress-aware. That means that, if you run the plugin on a blog where BuddyPress is activated, additional steps will be added to the import process, allowing you to automatically import whichever profile fields and data you’d like from the Ning export.

I also got rid of the pesky copy-and-paste requirement in favor of a direct .csv file upload.

Check out the plugin at its new homepage.

Import from Ning: Import Ning users to Wordpress and BuddyPress

Import From Ning imports the contents of your Ning Network Archive into BuddyPress.

See the initial announcement here.

Download the most recent version


  • Install in your plugins folder and activate. I recommend using the plugin on a fresh WP/BP installation; if running on an installation with existing content, please make a database backup first.
  • Download your Ning network export, using the Archiver tool as described here: http://help.ning.com/cgi-bin/ning.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=3796
  • Upload the content of your unzipped Ning export (a group of .json files, as well as several directories) to wp-content/ning-files. If this is the first time you’ve used this plugin, you’ll have to create the directory ning-files first.
  • Visit the plugin panel at Dashboard > BuddyPress > Import From Ning and follow the instructions

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I’m not running BuddyPress?
Version 2.0 of Import From Ning does not support WordPress standalone. Use version 1.1: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/import-from-ning/download/
What content will Import From Ning import?
Import From Ning currently imports the following items from a Ning export: members, member profiles, member avatars, members comments (the “wall”), groups, discussions, and blogs. The plugin attempts to recognize inline images and copy them to the BuddyPress installation, so that you don’t lose the images you’ve put in your blog posts.
What about my images, movies, and music?
BuddyPress by itself does not currently support photo, movie, or music galleries. The best plugin available for images right now is BuddyPress Album+ , which is in the process of being adapted to support video and audio galleries as well. In the future, I hope to expand this plugin to import content for display with Album+, but in the meantime you can import your multimedia content manually.
What do I do if I have a gargantuan network?
The plugin is most reliable when working with relatively small sets of data, though I have tested it with a network import of over 1300 users. There are various safeguards built into Import From Ning, so that if a particular step fails to complete because your hosting environment runs out of memory, you can simply refresh the page to pick up from where you’ve left off.
What’s with all these new groups?
In BuddyPress, each forum must be associated with a group. In cases where your Ning discussion thread was not part of a group, Import From Ning creates a group corresponding to the discussion category and places the discussion topic there.

Be a pal

I spent many mornings building this plugin, so that WordPress and BuddyPress users – and especially my friends who are WP/BP consultants – could reap the benefits. If you use this plugin (especially for a paying client!) please consider a donation.

Import from Ning has been downloaded 4,953 times. Are you using this plugin? Consider a donation.

Version history

2.0 – July 23, 2010
Added support for Ning network content
1.1 – April 18, 2010
Switched from copy-and-paste to direct .csv upload
Added BuddyPress profile field import functionality
1.0 – April 16, 2010
Initial release

New BuddyPress plugin: BP Import Blog Activity

I wrote a BuddyPress plugin today that is very ugly. It imports activity into BuddyPress from blog posts and comments that occurred before you had BuddyPress installed. It’s ugly because it’s sloppily coded and extremely inefficient and likely to hit PHP memory limits every time you run it. But it does the job, so I thought I’d post it and share it with others.

Read more about it, along with a bunch of warnings, here.