Migration and maintenance

At various times since our granddaughter, Claire, was born with Cri du Chat syndrome in late 2010 I’ve been involved with the website for the Cri du Chat Support Group. Our first effort was built using Drupal hosted on Drupal Gardens (since defunct). That worked but seemed a little complicated for most members to engage with.

One of the parent members later built a site on Wix but at some point the committee decided that was not entirely suitable. Around 2018 one of the committee members found JMACreative who offered as a pro bono contribution to build a site using WordPress. They arranged hosting on SiteGround and set up the skeleton for the site with a design that the committee members thought suitable.

JMA used WPBakery to build the site in WordPress. When I agreed to take the content from the exisiting Wix site and elsewhere and move it into the skeleton created by JMA I had no prior experience of WPBakery. I managed to work my way through the process late in 2019 though I never became entirely comfortable or satisfied with WPBakery which produced a mass of shortcodes and page structures that seemed more complicated than necessary for the job. Part of that may have resulted from the theme that had been selected and occasional glitches with WPBakery.

About a year ago I attempted to clean up the site, hoping to be able to fix the occasional visible shortcodes and other issues. I found a simpler theme that looked not too different, applied that and cleaned up some pages but switching off WPBakery resulted in pages full of shortcodes and some other issues. That cleaned things up a little but did not resolve all the issues in the background.

A week or so ago we decided to migrate the site from SiteGround to UpTime Web Hosting which has its servers in Australia rather than Singapore, offers a full cPanel implementation rather than the quirky SiteGround interface, and charges about half as much. My first attempt at pulling the site across using Softaculous had some missing files so I uploaded files and database from backups. That worked but I somehow broke the link to WordPress Toolkit. It took a couple more attempts to get that all working. Even then, the pretty permalinks failed and I had to revert to the plain ones. No amount of tweaking seemed to fix that.

Earlier this week I used WordPress Toolkit to clone the WordPress site to support staging and worked on the copy to clean up the WPBakery mess. I deactivated WPBakery and worked through the entire site putting the content into standard WordPress blocks. The new Gutenberg Editor does at least enough of what WPBakery offered for structuring pages without all the funky overhead. Once I had done that I was able to reactivate the pretty permalinks and find most of that was working.

I used the copy facility in WordPress Toolkit to update the live site from the cloned staging copy. It’s all working again though there is still some work to be done on the permalinks.