Martin Atkins (mart) wrote in lj_dev,
Martin Atkins

Journal Import Facility

Recently, since online journalling is becoming 'old hat' to many people, they have been reconsidering their choice of journal service and looking for a way to make a clean switch.

It would be nice if LiveJournal could be the first service to produce transition tools from services like Blogger and the other one I've forgotten the name of.

All it really requires is that we define a generic XML DTD (ie just the entries: no usernames etc) which all services could theoretically produce documents in. Blogger's template system can easily be set to produce XML, so there's no problem there. All we need is the XML format and the import tools.

Here's what I think the XML stuff could look like:

<subject>Optional Subject</subject>
<body><![CDATA[ Blah blah blah body text I write
 drivellous stuff and post it online for people to
 read hahahaha. ]]></body>
<meta type="current" name="mood">happy</meta>
<meta type="current" name="music">Frank The Goat -
LiveJournal Boogie</meta>

Obviously there aren't currently any other services which would export metadata we also support. If we define metadata for our stuff and make it possible to export in this "Generic WebLog Markup Language" (GWLML? heh) from LiveJournal, we can then just ignore any metadata we can't handle. Blogger doesn't do a 'subject' at all, so we'd omit that when exporting from blogger.

We could get accounts on these other services and find out how to create a style which would output conformant XML with this DTD (I've already done it with Blogger - they actually document making XML output) and then offer migration instructions on our site.

The difficult part is the import tool. I could easily write one in perl using expat, but that wouldn't be very useful to our 'normal users' who probably don't even have perl installed. Therefore we need someone (who isn't me - I suck at Windows programming) to write a cool Windows client which accepts the URL of an XML document or a path to a local file, and then posts a bunch of posts (marked backdated) to LiveJournal based on the data. We could also have a web-based version which does similarly, although that might cause bother as users get impatient waiting and start pounding reload and getting several copies of their entries. We also need someone to make a DTD up defining the format, since I don't know enough about XML to do it and while I could look it up, it seems better to let someone who is already an expert do it. As a side note, I did take another look at AlanJ's DTD for LJ entries that he posted some time back and thought that it was too LJ-specific for this purpose.

I know I'm not saying anything particularly revolutionary here, but I just wanted to start a discussion on this feature which will be potentially very useful. Not so good for LiveJournal the business, but good for LiveJournal the friendly bunch of people, would be that this would enable the reverse to happen... and other services would probably start offering this pretty quickly after we did. I do wonder how many people would jump ship if we allowed them to take all of their entries with them easily...


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