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Moving 15.000 articles from Ventrian NewsArticles to OpenContent


Although Ventrian NewsArticles is still a widely used module in the DNN ecosystem, it has no development and support anymore. This has been the case for quite some time already, and because of the interests of our clients, we have been trying to keep the module up to date with each new version of DNN.

For new clients, we have been using OpenContent for functionality like that for several years now. But what we didn't have, was a way to convert an existing instance of a NewsArticles module, to OpenContent.

Recently, a transition of a client with over 15.000 articles to OpenContent, pretty much forced us to build such a conversion. And since we hope to have more conversions like this coming, we decided to build a solution that would be reusable, even when using the full flexibility OpenContent offers.

So, what did we do to finally convert those 15K+ articles?

First of all, we obviously needed an OpenContent template. Timo created that one based on the client's requirements. On the NewsArticles side, this site uses several custom fields that needed to be converted, and on the OpenContent side it includes several kinds of "Related data" like categories.

Since this blog isn't about OpenContent template, you might want to have a look here for examples.

Having that template, we were able to put our new plugin for DnnMassManipulate to work. Note: we're currently not planning to make this plugin open source or even freely available.

The plugin obviously need to know which module to convert to which module, so we need to specify some ModuleID's and PortalID's.

Then, we have the option to limit the articles to convert by adding a where clause. Obviously this came in handy during development, where you want to start of with 10 articles in stead of waiting for 15.000 over and over again:

For each of the fields in NewsArticles, we created a mapping to the right field in OpenContent. A mapping is simple in most cases, like mapping the Title to the Title:

or even a custom field from NewsArticles:

or something a little more complex by using conditional values:

or the attached images to an article:

or even a lookup using the related data in OpenContent:

Using these features we were able to handle every situation we needed to handle.

Then, we needed to convert te Related data itself, to OpenContent. Our MassManipulate-plugin offers the option to configure a SQL Query to define the available data for each fo the related data fields in OpenContent:

The proof of the pudding

Having finished all the above, running several test --> review --> improve iterations, we successfully converted all articles to their new location. Out client is very happy with the much improved user experience for editors, and that's just one of the improvements.

You can check out the result yourself here on Observant Online, the online version of the independant magazine of Maastricht University.

That's sweet. I also need to convert NewsArticles to OpenContent

Great! We're happy to help out, with our new tool. Please do contact us, and we'll get back to you with a quote when we know what it is you need our assistence with. Besides this conversion, we can also help out building your OpenContent templates, for example.