Importing blog archive files

It was way back around IndieWebCamp Austin 2017 that I proposed a new archive format for blogs. These .bar files are essentially ZIP files that contain HTML with Microformats, JSON Feed with original Markdown or HTML, and uploaded photos. The nice thing about this format is that you can unzip them and preview your entire site in any web browser, and it contains all the related photos and other files.

I’ve been working on improving support for Blog Archive in Micro.blog. Version 2.3 of the Mac app can now import .bar files with a nice preview window and progress. It can import into Micro.blog or external Micropub and WordPress blogs.

Screenshot of .bar window

When the Mac app uploads photos for your blog from the archive, it rewrites img tags in your HTML to use the new URLs, so it’s a good way to migrate a blog with no or minimal cleanup needed afterwards.

Tools that want to process these files can choose between parsing the Microformats or JSON Feed version of the blog. IndieWeb-friendly tools may find it easier to work with Microformats, and new apps can use any JSON parser.

When generating a .bar file, I recommend having plain HTML in index.html with common Microformats like h-feed, h-entry, u-url, dt-published, and e-content. In the JSON Feed, you can use content_text for the source Markdown or HTML if you have it, and then HTML in content_html. Micro.blog will prefer content_text if it’s there.

For an example to test with, check out this file: example.bar. This contains a few posts and screenshots from our Epilogue blog.

I really hope this format catches on. The files can be big, but they give you a single file that you can backup anywhere.

Manton Reece @manton
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