Colin’s ALM Corner – Updated Blog Engine

I have been using Blogger ever since I started my blog back in 2010. Once you get the template right (and set up a domain) it’s not a bad hosting platform. It works nicely with Windows Live Writer (as every self-respecting blog engine should). However, I felt it was time for a change – I wanted to take charge of my own blogging platform.

A couple of week’s ago I read a post by Scott Hanselman about Mad’s Krisensen’s MiniBlog engine. I had a look and liked it instantly – but there was no way to port from Blogger to MiniBlog. So I left it to stew in the back of my mind (*ominous chuckle - BWAHAHAHA*).

Porting to MiniBlog from Blogger

I finally had another look a few days ago to see if I could port my existing blog posts over. While there was no native way to do this, I found a util (BloggerBackup) that let me export my blog posts (in ATOM format). I promptly exported all my posts.

The next trick was to import them into MiniBlog format. Fortunately there’s a little util that converts from BlogEngine.NET (or WordPress) to MiniBlog called MiniBlogFormatter. I cloned the repo and wrote my own formatter. This wasn’t too hard – using some Linq-to-XML I had something going pretty quickly. Here’s the code:

public class BloggerATOMFormatter
    public void Format(string originalFolderPath, string targetFolderPath)
        FormatPosts(originalFolderPath, targetFolderPath);

    private void FormatPosts(string originalFolderPath, string targetFolderPath)
        var oldPostList = new Dictionary<string, string>();
        foreach (string file in Directory.GetFiles(originalFolderPath, "*.xml").Where(s => !s.EndsWith("comments.xml")))
            var originalDoc = LoadDocument(file);
            XNamespace atomNS = @"";

            var entry = originalDoc.Element(atomNS + "entry");

            var title = entry.Element(atomNS + "title").Value;
            var oldUrl = (from link in entry.Elements(atomNS + "link")
                          where link.Attributes().ToList().Any(a => a.Name == "rel" && a.Value == "alternate")
                          select link).First().Attribute("href").Value.Replace("", "");
            var content = FixContent(entry.Element(atomNS + "content").Value);
            var publishDate = DateTime.Parse(entry.Element(atomNS + "published").Value);
            var lastModDate = DateTime.Parse(entry.Element(atomNS + "updated").Value);
            var slug = FormatterHelpers.FormatSlug(title);
            var categories = from cat in entry.Elements(atomNS + "category")
                             select cat.Attribute("term").Value;

            var post = new Post();
            post.Author = "Colin Dembovsky";
            post.Categories = categories.ToArray();
            post.Content = content;
            post.IsPublished = true;
            post.PubDate = publishDate;
            post.Title = title;
            post.Slug = slug;
            post.LastModified = lastModDate;
            post.Comments = GetCommentsForPost(file);

            var newId = Guid.NewGuid().ToString();
            Storage.Save(post, Path.Combine(targetFolderPath, newId + ".xml"));
            oldPostList[oldUrl] = newId;
        SaveOldPostMap(targetFolderPath, oldPostList);

    private void SaveOldPostMap(string targetFolderPath, Dictionary<string, string> oldPostList)
        var mapElement = new XElement("OldPostMap");
        foreach(var key in oldPostList.Keys)
                new XElement("OldPost",
                    new XAttribute("oldUrl", key),
                    new XAttribute("postId", oldPostList[key])
        var doc = new XDocument(mapElement);
        doc.Save(Path.Combine(targetFolderPath, ""));

    private List<Comment> GetCommentsForPost(string file)
        var commentsFile = file.Replace(".xml", ".comments.xml");
        if (!File.Exists(commentsFile))
            return new List<Comment>();  

        var commentsDoc = LoadDocument(commentsFile);
        XNamespace atomNS = @"";

        var list = new List<Comment>();
        foreach (var originalComment in commentsDoc.Descendants(atomNS + "entry"))
            var authorElement = originalComment.Element(atomNS + "author");
            var name = authorElement.Element(atomNS + "name").Value;
            var email = authorElement.Element(atomNS + "email").Value;
            var uriElement = authorElement.Element(atomNS + "uri");
            string website = null;
            if (uriElement != null)
                website = uriElement.Value;

            var content = originalComment.Element(atomNS + "content").Value;
            var publishDate = DateTime.Parse(originalComment.Element(atomNS + "published").Value);

            var comment = new Comment();
            comment.Author = name;
            comment.Email = email;
            comment.PubDate = publishDate;
            comment.Content = content;
            comment.IsAdmin = false;
            comment.Website = website;

        return list.OrderBy(c => c.PubDate).ToList();

    private string FixContent(string originalContent)
        var regex = new Regex("<pre class=\"brush: \\w*;\">(.*?)</pre>", RegexOptions.IgnoreCase);
        foreach(Match match in regex.Matches(originalContent))
            var formatted = match.Groups[1].Value.Replace("<br />", Environment.NewLine);
            originalContent = originalContent.Replace(match.Groups[1].Value, formatted);
        return originalContent.Replace("<p></p><br />", "").Replace("<p></p>", "").Replace("<h3>", "<h2>").Replace("</h3>", "</h2>");

    private XDocument LoadDocument(string file)
        return XDocument.Parse(File.ReadAllText(file));

There is a bit of “colinsALMcorner” specific code here, but if you’re looking to move from Blogger to MiniBlog you should be able to use most of this code. I had some issues with the formatting of the <pre> sections for Syntax Highlighter – once I had that sorted, the formatter worked flawlessly.

Redirecting Existing Posts

One of the challenges I had was what about search engines that already reference existing posts? Since I wanted to host MiniBlog on Azure and point my domain to the new site, I wanted to preserve any existing reference. However, the naming scheme for posts in Blogger is different from that in MiniBlog.

What I ended up doing was creating a map file as part of my convert-from-blogger-file-to-MiniBlog-file in the MiniBlogFormatter. I then created a simple HttpHandler that can server a “301 Moved Permanently” redirect when you hit an old post. Here’s the code:

public class OldPostHandler : IHttpHandler
    public bool IsReusable
        get { return false; }

    public void ProcessRequest(HttpContext context)
        var oldUrl = context.Request.RawUrl;
        var oldPost = Storage.GetOldPost(oldUrl);

        if (oldPost == null)
            throw new HttpException(404, "The post does not exist");

        var newUrl = "/post/" + oldPost.Slug;
        context.Response.Status = "301 Moved Permanently";
        context.Response.AddHeader("Location", newUrl);

It’s small, neat and quick – keeping in line with the MiniBlog philosophy. Here’s the Storage.GetOldPost() method:

public static Post GetOldPost(string url)
    var map = GetOldPostMap();
    if (map.ContainsKey(url))
        return GetAllPosts().SingleOrDefault(p =&gt; p.ID == map[url]);
    return null;

public static Dictionary&lt;string, string&gt; GetOldPostMap()

    if (HttpRuntime.Cache["oldPostMap"] != null)
        return (Dictionary&lt;string, string&gt;)HttpRuntime.Cache["oldPostMap"];
    return new Dictionary&lt;string, string&gt;();

private static void LoadOldPostMap()
    var map = new Dictionary&lt;string, string&gt;();
    var mapFile = Path.Combine(_folder, "");
    if (File.Exists(mapFile))
        var doc = XDocument.Load(mapFile);
        foreach (var mapping in doc.Descendants("OldPost"))
            var oldUrl = mapping.Attribute("oldUrl").Value;
            var newId = mapping.Attribute("postId").Value;
            map[oldUrl] = newId;
    HttpRuntime.Cache.Insert("oldPostMap", map);

GetAllPosts() add’s a call to LoadOldPostMap() which finds the map file and reads it into memory. I only have 87 posts, so it’s not too heavy.

Here’s the code to invoke the handler in web.config:

  &lt;remove name="CommentHandler"/&gt;
  &lt;add name="CommentHandler" verb="*" type="CommentHandler" path="/comment.ashx"/&gt;
  &lt;remove name="PostHandler"/&gt;
  &lt;add name="PostHandler" verb="POST" type="PostHandler" path="/post.ashx"/&gt;
  &lt;remove name="MetaWebLogHandler"/&gt;
  &lt;add name="MetaWebLogHandler" verb="POST,GET" type="MetaWeblogHandler" path="/metaweblog"/&gt;
  &lt;remove name="FeedHandler"/&gt;
  &lt;add name="FeedHandler" verb="GET" type="FeedHandler" path="/feed/*"/&gt;
  &lt;remove name="FeedsHandler"/&gt;
  &lt;add name="FeedsHandler" verb="GET" type="FeedHandler" path="/feeds/*"/&gt;
  &lt;remove name="CssHandler"/&gt;
  &lt;add name="CssHandler" verb="GET" type="MinifyHandler" path="*.css"/&gt;
  &lt;remove name="JsHandler"/&gt;
  &lt;add name="JsHandler" verb="GET" type="MinifyHandler" path="*.js"/&gt;
  &lt;remove name="OldPostHandler"/&gt;
  &lt;add name="OldPostHandler" verb="GET" type="OldPostHandler" path="*.html"/&gt;

You’ll see that I also added a “FeedsHandler” as well to work with the blogger feeds format, so that existing subscribers wouldn’t be affected by the switch (hopefully).

I then styled the site (since it’s based on bootstrap that wasn’t a problem). I also added a tag-cloud function and a search function. Both turned out to be really simple.

Tag Cloud

I needed a method that would return all the categories and their frequency for the tag cloud. Here’s the code in the backend:

public static Dictionary&lt;string, int&gt; GetTags()
    var categories = Storage.GetAllPosts().SelectMany(p =&gt; p.Categories).Distinct();
    var tags = new Dictionary&lt;string, int&gt;();
    foreach(var cat in categories)
        var count = Storage.GetAllPosts().Where(p =&gt; p.Categories.Any(c =&gt; c.Equals(cat, StringComparison.OrdinalIgnoreCase))).Count();
        tags[cat] = count;
    return tags;

Next I had to find a way to present a tag cloud on the page using javascript. There are lots of ways of doing this – I ended up using this jQuery tagcloud script. Here’s the html for my tag cloud:

&lt;div id="tagcloud"&gt;
        var tags = Blog.GetTags();
        foreach (var tag in tags.Keys)
            &lt;a href="/category/@tag" rel="@tags[tag]"&gt;@tag&lt;/a&gt;

&lt;script type="text/javascript"&gt;
    // tag cloud script
    $("#tagcloud a").tagcloud({
        size: {
            start: 0.8,
            end: 1.75,
            unit: 'em'
        color: {
            start: "#7cc0f4",
            end: "#266ca2"

I regularly search my own blog – it’s a “working journal” of sorts. Having a search function was pretty important to me. Again the solution was really simple. Here’s the search code:

public static List&lt;Post&gt; Search(string term)
    term = term.ToLower();
    return (from p in Storage.GetAllPosts()
            where p.Title.ToLower().Contains(term) || p.Content.ToLower().Contains(term) || p.Comments.Any(c =&gt; c.Content.ToLower().Contains(term))
            select p).ToList();

Once I had the results, I created a new search.cshtml page that shows just the first few lines of the blog post:

    var term = Request.QueryString["term"];

    Page.Title = Blog.Title;
    Layout = "~/themes/" + Blog.Theme + "/_Layout.cshtml";
    if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(term))
        &lt;p&gt;Something went wrong with your search. Try again...&lt;/p&gt;
        &lt;h1&gt;Results for search: '@term'&lt;/h1&gt;
        var list = Blog.Search(term);
        if (list.Count == 0)
            &lt;p&gt;No matches...&lt;/p&gt;
            foreach(var p in list)
                @RenderPage("~/themes/" + Blog.Theme + "/PostSummary.cshtml", p);

The final bit was to get a search control. I ended up doing one entirely in css:

input {
    outline: none;
input[type=search] {
    -webkit-appearance: textfield;
    -webkit-box-sizing: content-box;
    font-family: inherit;
    font-size: 80% !important;
input::-webkit-search-cancel-button {
    display: none; /* remove the search and cancel icon */

/* search input field */
input[type=search] {
    background: #ededed url(images/search-icon.png) no-repeat 9px center;
    border: solid 1px #ccc;
    padding: 5px 5px 5px 10px;
    width: 130px;
    -webkit-border-radius: 10em;
    -moz-border-radius: 10em;
    border-radius: 10em;
    -webkit-transition: all .5s;
    -moz-transition: all .5s;
    transition: all .5s;
input[type=search]:focus {
    width: 100%;
    background-color: #fff;
    border-color: #6dcff6;
    -webkit-box-shadow: 0 0 5px rgba(109,207,246,.5);
    -moz-box-shadow: 0 0 5px rgba(109,207,246,.5);
    box-shadow: 0 0 5px rgba(109,207,246,.5);

/* placeholder */
input:-moz-placeholder {
    color: #999;
input::-webkit-input-placeholder {
    color: #999;

And here’s the search control in my side-bar:

    &lt;br /&gt;
    &lt;form action="/search" method="get" role="form" id="searchForm"&gt;
            &lt;input type="search" placeholder="Search this blog" name="term"&gt;
    &lt;hr /&gt;

Approve or Delete Comments from the Alert Mail

When someone writes a comment on a post, MiniBlog sends you an email. I like to moderate comments, so that’s how I’ve configured MiniBlog. In the mail there are 2 links – one to approve and one to delete the comment. However, I kept getting 403 “unauthorized” then clicking the links if I wasn’t logged in on the site. I made a small tweak to the CommentHandler Accept and Delete methods to redirect me to the login page instead of throwing a 403:

if (!context.User.Identity.IsAuthenticated)
    // was throwing 403 here

Now when I hit the link from my mail, I get redirected to the login screen. Once logged in, the comment is approved/deleted and all’s well.

Publishing to Azure

After testing posting from Windows Live Writer (no issues there) I then published the site to Azure. I changed my DNS records from Blogger to Azure and hey presto – new site is up!


I’m really happy with the new look & feel and with the other modern web benefits (like SEO optimization and of course, speed) that MiniBlog brings. Thanks Mads!

I expect there may be a glitch or two for the switch over, but hopefully everything works well. Let me know in the comments if you experience any issues.

Happy reading!

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