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Ning Importer


The Ning Importer Tool has been completely revamped in SocialEngine PHP 4.8.13. The new tool has been designed in a way that not only addresses all of the shortcomings of the old one, but also provides a user friendly interface for Admin to manage and troubleshoot the import process in many ways. With the new Ning Importer Tool, the process to import Ning data into your SocialEngine site has been made both more simple and much smoother.

If you have an existing Ning Community that you would like to transfer to SocialEngine PHP, then don’t think twice as we’ve got a stellar import tool that makes the transition process quick and easy! However, before you start importing your Ning Community to SocialEngine, please have a look at the following advancements we’ve made in the new Ning Importer that comes along with release 4.8.13:

  • Single import request broken down into multiple requests: Issues generally arise when large amounts of data need to be imported via a single import request. Breaking it down into multiple small requests (one request for each module) minimizes the probability of any issues.
  • Better visibility to admin: The process is now more visible to Admin: 
    • Admin can view which modules have been imported and which module is currently being imported which was not possible in the older Ning Importer. 
    • Errors are directly shown to Admin so that the required steps to fix those errors can be taken.
  • Displaying progress to admin via ajax: After each file is imported, Admin can click on the link “View Details” to view details of the import of the particular module. These details would show the total number of entries existing that were to be imported, number of entries imported successfully, and number of entries failed to import:
    Total: X

    Success: Y

    Failure: Z

    This makes the whole process quite clear and understandable to site admins.
  • Ability to Resume and Restart: With the new Ning Importer, you can stop the Ning Import process whenever required (e.g. if you have to do some other work and are not able to finish importing now etc.) and can resume it from the same point where you’ve left it.

Resume Import- Clicking on this will resume the import process from where it was last discontinued. Admin can resume the import process within seven days of the time when it was last discontinued.  

Start Import - Clicking on this will truncate the complete data (except super admin) and import process will begin. In other words, this button will restart the Import Process after clearing all the data that would have been imported so far.

For example, if the website’s server memory limit gets exhausted, the Admin will be able to resume the import anytime in next 7 days instead of having to reinstall and re-import everything.

How to accomplish this task:

Here’s a brief overview of the steps you’ll take:

  • Install the Ning Network Archiver application
  • Archive your Ning site using the Ning Network Archive Tool
  • Install a fresh, blank copy of SocialEngine
  • Import your Ning content to SocialEngine using our Import Tool

First Things First: Archive your Ning site

First, install the New Ning Network Archiver application on your computer. Then, generate the archived files, which are in JSON format, using the Ning Network Archive Tool.

Note: Ning also provides a separate export option which will export data in XML format and shut your site down 30 days later. Our import tool does NOT work with the XML format; it only uses the Archive Tool.

During the archiving process, you should also download the media files to your computer. This will give you .json files that point to the media file locations on your computer, rather than the internet destinations in the original .json file. Those files are required by the Import Tool.

To do this, after downloading the main JSON file for a feature, click on the “Download Media Files” button. This will give you a new .json file for every feature ending in “-local”.

Note: After you archive all of the Ning content, upload the archived files on the server of your site within the document root of your site, please make sure you apply recursive 777 permission to all Ning directories and files.

Time to import!

If you have not already installed SocialEngine, please do so now. You can refer to the README.html file or read the related KB Article for detailed instructions.

Log into your SocialEngine Package Manager (this will typically be in the /install/ directory, such as www.example.com/install/, though you can also access it through "Admin > Manage > Packages & Plugins"). There is a tab at the top to access "Import Tools"; click on that tab, and then on "Ning Import". You’ll be able to see the Ning Import instructions.


Click on “Start Import” to start the Ning Import Process. 

In the field Ning Data Path, you need to mention the path where you’ve placed all of the archived Ning data on the server within the document root of your site. 

You’ll be able to see the Ning Import process running. If you need to, you can stop the process in between by clicking on the link “Click here to stop the import process”.

Later on you can resume the process exactly from the point where you discontinued it by clicking on the button “Start Import”. Please make sure you resume the process within seven days of discontinuing it.

What if an error arises?

Sometimes,  errors can come up during the import process (e.g. the memory is exhausted as shown in the above case). In that case, the process will be halted and then Admin will need to take required steps to overcome that error. After the error is resolved, the Import process can continue. 

That’s all! When the import process is completed, you’ll find your newly imported SocialEngine site running well with the content of your Ning community. Enjoy!

Important Notes:

Fresh Installation of SocialEngine PHP: The Ning Import Tool requires a fresh installation of SocialEngine PHP without any content. If you have already created content in your site, then the new importer tool will automatically detect this and will give you a warning that “Your site already has content.  The content will be removed from the existing installation if you use this import tool.”Any content and user accounts (except for the original super-admin that gets created during the installation itself) already in  existence will be deleted while doing the Ning Import. 

Friendships: The Ning Archive Tool does not yet include friendships. As such, your friendships will not be imported to SocialEngine. If Ning decides to include Friendships in a future update to their archive tool, we will be sure to add it to our importer as well.

Members’ Passwords: The Ning export does not contain passwords. As such, our import script will automatically generate a new password for each member, and can optionally email it to them. If you choose not to email your members during the import process, your users can log in for the first time by using the "Forgot Password" feature.

What is imported?

Here is a listing of everything our importer will import. Should you need more items imported, you’ll want to contact an expert for assistance.
  • Activities
  • Photo Albums
  • Photo Comments
  • Photos
  • Announcements
  • Blogs
  • Blog Comments
  • Core Content
  • Core Pages
  • Event Comments
  • Events
  • Event Membership
  • Forum Posts
  • Forum Signatures
  • Forum Topics
  • Group Comments
  • Groups
  • Group Memberships
  • Group Posts
  • Group Topics
  • Music Songs
  • User Comments
  • User Fields
  • User Migration
  • Users
  • Video Comments
  • Videos
Great work! Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need further tutorials. Visit our community to have more interactions with us and other clients or third party developers. We’d love to see you there!
support@socialengine.com
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