I've been using Google's Blogger platform for few months now. It is a great platform to start blogging; it offers lots of widgets that can be installed with just point and click interface. I was attracted to it because google is running it and because the service is free.
So I searched for a new home. I wanted to find a .Net solution. So I naturally tried the three most popular .Net blogging packages: dasBlog, subtext and BlogEngine.NET.
subtext turned out to be a cute little package, nice to setup, but it lacked SEO features. And is kinda old, no new releases. So I moved on to dasBlog. Better SEO support, but it is file based and has a substandard search feature. When I tried BlogEngine.NET I knew I had a winner. There are however few things that I still don't like, for example: the template customizations are not as trivial as dasBlog's. Actually, dasBlog was the easiest to modify.
Anyway, I picked BlogEngine.NET and so far I'm happy with it. Next, I needed a web host provider that would allow me to run BlogEngine.NET as well as my own .NET code. I needed a company that would allow me for a full control over my hosting environment.
GoDaddy looked like a winner. It offers very good storage and bandwidth. But one thing I did not like is that they are just too big. So I found this winhost.com company, small, it hosts only ~3000 domains. These guys are niche players in Windows .NET hosting market. So I tried them late last night.
After I signed up, I got an email within 2 minutes, just enough time to finish going through their online c-panel demo, with my login information. So I logged in, transferred BlogEngine.NET files using smartFtp, and I tried to login to blog engine. I was expecting all kinds of problems but to my surprise, blog engine worked out of the box. I did not even have to modify web.config.
Next step was to transfer my blogs from blogger to blog engine. Blogger does not support blogML format so I copied my blogs manually. An hour later, I was running my site with slightly modified standard template.
A move from non .NET platform to .NET always requires some cleanup. At least previously indexed pages have to be visible on your .Net platform. For example my older blog entries were:
now they became:
so I had to setup 301 permanent redirects for them.
There are two ways of doing this. My intuition tells me that the first method would be better, but I have no proof to back this up. Anyway, you can use rewrite module or define a location section in your web.config.
<httpRedirect enabled="true" destination="post/to-certify-or-not-to-certify.aspx"
same for all others...
or add rewrite rules:
<rule name="Redirect1 from blog">
<match url="^2010/02/to-certify-or-not-to-certify.html" />
<action type="Redirect" url="post/to-certify-or-not-to-certify.aspx" />
Please note that location section has to be in your configuration section, not in system.web section. rewrite section should be in the system.web section. You can use regular expressions if you are careful in naming of your new blogs. My entries were different so I just left them as is.
One last thing I had to do was to register DNS servers at my registrar. It took 3 hours for the DNS change to take effect.
However problem started when I removed my hostname from my blogger settings. Now my site is not rechable by name thanks to some google magic :-) I'll give them a day to update their servers.
One last thing I did was to redirect my older blog entries on blogger to my new site. Again this was done just so that if someone gets to by blogger pages directly they will be redirected to my new site. Since blogger does not allow me to do 301 redirects on the web server, I added redirects in the bodies of the posts:
same for all others...
This hopefully will be my new home for some time.
Now I should be able to concentrate on learning blog engine code and start writing my own web controls.
Winhost platform is for developers only. I think an average web user might find it to raw for his/her taste.