Author: Cerrigione, Christopher

Migrating From Other WordPress Servers

For those of you that have been using WordPress elsewhere, there are a few key distinctions you need know about the Aurora server.

Multisite

Aurora is a multisite installation of WordPress, modeled after WordPress.com. Each site has it's own tables, but they are in one database, and share the same library of plugins and themes.

Plugins

Plugins are controlled at the Network level in Aurora. The addition of any new plugins to the network is decided on by the Aurora Governance Committee, and spelled out in the Wishlist.

Themes

Similar to plugins, Themes are also controlled at the network level. Custom themes are permitted, but must pass a Code Audit process before being allowed on production.

Migrating From Dreamweaver

There is no automated method of converting existing content from Dreamweaver template based sites into Aurora. Our research with tools and with writing our own scripts showed that so much work was needed to clean up the content manually that there was no point to trying automated solutions. Our recommendation, and the method we used as well, is to manually copy and paste the content into new pages.

Migrating HTML Files Onto Aurora

To migrate your HTML files onto Aurora, see the guide on manually migrating websites.

Aurora vs. Dreamweaver

From 2002 – 2013, UConn relied heavily on the use of Dreamweaver templates to manage website content. For those of you accustomed to working with Dreamweaver templates, there are some changes you should be aware of.

  • Automatic Backups – Each and every time you hit Publish or Update, Aurora will save a new copy of the page or post you're working on. You can revert to older copies yourself. This means if you accidentally erase a page, you can always go back to a previous version.
  • Drag & Drop Navigation – In Dreamweaver, adding, removing, or renaming navigation items was technically challenging and time consuming. Now, you can rearrange your navigation in a simple interface.
  • No Setup – With Aurora you don't have to configure software with server addresses, port numbers, or other various settings. All you need is a web browser and an internet connection.
  • Multiple Webmasters – Aurora has a lot of features to support multiple people working on the same site, even at the same time. It will warn you if you try to edit a page someone else is working on. You can create users that can only edit certain pages, or whose work always has to be reviewed before being published.
  • File and Image Uploading – In the past, this used to require a lot of moving files around into specific folders to get them to appear in Dreamweaver, or setting up a WebDAV client. In Aurora, you simply click 'Add Media' when working on a page, and you can select any file on your computer to upload to the site.
  • Scheduled Updates – If you need a site change to happen at a specific date and time, you can now just set a timer. The new page, or changes to a current page, won't appear until the appointed hour.
  • Online Drafts – If you're working on a new page, and want some feedback before it appears publicly, save it as a draft. Send the preview link to colleagues without the worry of it appearing on the main site yet.
  • Dynamic Homepages – Add news posts, an events calendar, and a photo slideshow, and control them all yourself.
  • Limited Coding Ability – In Dreamweaver, you had direct access to all code of the page. In Aurora, that access is limited. There is still a Text/HTML view for those that want to write some code by hand, but for those who want truly custom layouts and displays, please read more about Themes and Plugins.
  • Limited Layout & Color Choices – Aurora is limited to the looks and layouts available under the "Themes" menu item. UITS will be adding more options to this main theme over time, and those interested may want to look into custom themes under Themes and Plugins.

Changing Themes

On WordPress, it’s easy to change themes for a website. Simply go to Appearance > Themes, and you can preview how your site might look in another theme.

Before you decide to switch to a different theme, there are some things you should keep in mind.

The Good News

Switching themes does not destroy any pages or content that you’ve created for your site. Moreover, switching themes is reversible; if you change it and don’t like it, you can switch back.

The Tricky Parts

Top Navigation

When you switch themes, it’s possible for your top navigation menu to break. This can be fixed by going to Appearance > Menus, finding your Top Nav menu, and checking the ‘Primary Menu‘ checkbox.

Homepage

Many themes have a custom homepage page template that may not exist in a new theme. For example, switching from Hale to Sherman may wipe out the homepage. However, the widgets that created those homepages aren’t gone. If you go to Appearance > Widgets and scroll down, you’ll see them in an area for ‘unassigned widgets‘. Drag them back up to the correct sidebars and your homepage will reform itself.

In the newer themes (Hale 2015 and Sherman), you can use Page Builder to build the homepage and sub pages.  See Homepage Customization tools.

Sidebars

Some themes have sidebars that are specific to them and changing themes will move any widgets within those sidebars to the ‘unassigned widgets‘ section in Appearance > Widgets. You may need to find a new place to keep that content.

Bootstrap Layouts & Special Elements

The older Hale and Prudence themes were built on the Bootstrap 2 framework. The newer Sherman and Hale 2015 themes are built with the Bootstrap 3 framework. If your site makes use of Bootstrap columns, buttons, or accordion menus, they may not work if you switch from a Bootstrap 2 theme to a Bootstrap 3 theme.  They will fall back to being simple single column layouts, links, or text sections until you change the code to comply with the version of Bootstrap that your new theme uses.

Child Themes

Child themes are a way to take an existing theme, such as Sherman, and change a couple of things about it. For developers looking to create something custom, we highly recommend looking into child themes first.

Resources