Tag Archives: ning

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.)

Import From Ning now imports Ning content into BuddyPress

[IMPORTANT: I am no longer supporting this plugin. You may contact me for a list of consultants who may be interested in providing Ning import support.]

Back when Ning announced that it’d be cutting off previously free accounts, I took a weekend and developed Import From Ning, a plugin that helped users pull their Ning user and profile data into a WordPress or BuddyPress installation. It was my own little BuddyPress-fanboyish way of helping all those Ningsters.

Several weeks ago, Ning released its Ning Network Archiver, which (finally) allowed network admins an easy way to take their content with them. On the heels of this release by Ning, today I am releasing version 2.0 of Import From Ning, which imports the content from a Ning Network Archive.

Read more about the updated plugin here. And to those Ningsters who are coming over to WordPress and BuddyPress: good on ya!

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

Instructions

  • 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

Importing Ning users into WP

Today Ning announced that it would be ending its free social networking service. I tweeted something to the effect that this event is a wake-up call: When you use closed-source, third-party hosted solutions for something as valuable as community connections, you are leaving yourself open to the whims and sways of corporate boards. It’s not that Ning is evil or anything – it goes without saying that they need to make a profit – but their priorities are importantly different from those of their users. In the same way that Ning moves from a freemium model to a paid model, Facebook could start selling your crap, Twitter could crash, Tumblr could go out of business, etc.

All this is a good argument to be using software solutions that are more under your control. Like – drumroll – WordPress and BuddyPress.

Enough moralizing. I whipped together a plugin this afternoon called Import From Ning that will allow you to get a CSV export of your Ning community’s member list (the only content that Ning has a handy export feature for, alas) and use it to import members into a WordPress installation.

As of right now, it does not have any BuddyPress-specific functionality. But the data that it does import – display name, username, email address – are enough to populate at least the beginnings of a BuddyPress profile. The next thing to add is the auto-import of certain profile fields. I might try to do this tomorrow. The plugin is based on DDImportUsers – thanks!

Instructions:

  • Download the zip file and unzip into your WP plugins directory
  • Look for the Import from Ning menu under Dashboard > Users (unless you’re running a recent trunk version of BuddyPress, in which case it will be under the BuddyPress menu)
  • Follow the instructions on that page

Download the plugin here.