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Documented import from snitz access database

  • Robin W


    Converting a Snitz access database forum to BBpress

    This documents how I transferred from a website using Snitz and an access database to a new site with BBress using Mysql.

    This briefing assumes knowledge of
    • FTP programmes and uploading/downloading files
    • A way to access your wordpress database eg myphpadmin
    • A way to see your access database


    BBpress has a conversion tool that lets you import data from several other forum packages. However two things are needed for this to work.
    1. The data in a MySQL database format
    2. A convertor programme that understands the structure of the source (in this case Snitz) forum.

    If you already have a MySQL verison of Snitz (Snitz supports Access, MS SQL, and MySQL), then you’ll still need to fix the date, and run a specific Snitz converter, but don’t need the upload to MySql in step 2.


    The plan therefore is to
    1. Fix date format (it is different between the two forums)
    2. Convert the data to sql format
    3. Run a snitz converter
    4. Run repair to fix the links


    I can only describe how I achieved this, I suspect there are lots of ways, but this one worked.

    I had an access database on site x with hosting company a, and needed to transfer to a Mysql database on site y with hosting company b (basically I was taking over running someone else’s website management)

    Step 1 fixing the data format

    Snitz stores dates in the format yyyymmddhhmmss
    BBpress stores dates in the format yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm:ss

    You can fix this
    • before you transfer the data to sql,
    • after you have transferred it
    • or during conversion,

    this will depend on where you knowledge lies. But you will need to fix it. If you don’t fix this, all the entries you import will show as posted 2014 years ago (basically year 0)

    I converted before transferring to sql, as I an old and used to working with flat files! If you are more capable in sql, you could no doubt write a small programme to change the data format after you’ve uploaded to sql, and if more capable in php you could do it within the converter programme (see later)

    The Snitz database has two tables with dates in that need changing. These are :


    This is how they showed in my Snitz database, but the prefix may be different with yours.

    In FORUM_TOPICS you need to change

    In FORUM_REPLY you need to change

    I downloaded the access database from the old site to my PC. I then exported the two tables to an excel spreadsheet (in Access go to external data, and look for export to Excel. You’ll need to have created a blank spreadsheet with the name you want to use first) and ran the formula

    =CONCATENATE(MID(N2,1,4),”-”,MID(N2,5,2),”-”,MID(N2,7,2),” “,MID(N2,9,2),”:”,MID(N2,11,2),”:”,MID(N2,13,2))

    Where column N contained the old date.

    I then prefixed the original heading with OLD (eg heading T_DATE became OLDT_DATE) and headed the new column with the heading of the old one (eg T_DATE). I did this to a) preserve the original columns just in case, and b) to use for the clean slug in the conversion (see later).

    I then deleted the old table in access, and imported the two excel ones back into Access (as before external data, then import).

    I then had the same access database, but with the correct date formulas and a couple of extra columns with the old date format in them.

    Step 2 – Convert access database to MySql database

    The first thing you’ll need is a MySql database to upload to.

    You can use the one you presumably already have with WordPress/BBpress. However you’ll just need to check that none of the names co-incide. Since my Snitz database used capitals (I don’t know if they all Snitz databases do), and BBpress uses lower case, I suspect that there is no risk in doing this, but one for you to consider.

    I took the safety of creating a fresh blank database (my hosting package allows the creation of databases and manages them through phpMyadmin).
    There are numerous programmes on the web that do access to Mysql conversion, but for no particular reason I chose Bullzip

    However this needs a 32bit ODBC driver to work, so unless you already have Mysql on your local PC, you’ll need to download the driver from – choose the 32 bit one.

    Once installed it is a doddle to do the conversion.
    You’ll need :
    The access database on your pc
    The host address of your MySql database
    The database name
    The username
    The password.

    Run the wizard, and it’ll upload in minutes.

    Finally if you’re going to do the date conversion discussed in Step 1 at this stage, now’s the time to do it.

    Step 3 – Importing/converting the data

    This is easy once you’ve got your head around it, but initially it can be very frustrating.

    In essence you need to translate what one forum calls something to what the other needs.

    For Snitz, I used the following translation

    Forum section FORUM_FORUM forum
    Forum id FORUM_ID _bbp_forum_id
    Forum parent id CAT_ID _bbp_parent_id
    Forum title F_SUBJECT post_title
    Forum Slug (see note 1) FORUM_ID post_name
    Forum description F_DESCRIPTION post_content
    Forum Display Order F_ORDER Menu_order
    Forum Date Update Post_date

    Topic section FORUM_TOPICS topic
    Topic id TOPIC_ID _bbp_topic_id
    Forum id FORUM_ID _bbp_forum_id
    Topic author T_AUTHOR post_author
    Topic title T_SUBJECT post_title
    Topic Slug (see note 1) T_DATE post_name
    Forum id (if no parent 0) FORUM_ID post_parent
    Topic date update T_DATE post_date
    T_DATE post_date_gmt
    T_LAST_POST_DATE post_modified
    T_LAST_POST_DATE post_modified_gmt

    Tags section

    Post section FORUM_REPLY reply
    Post id REPLY_ID _bbp_post_id
    Forum id FORUM_ID _bbp_forum_id
    Topic id TOPIC_ID _bbp_topic_id
    Author ip R_IP _bbp_author_ip
    Post author R_AUTHOR post_author
    Topic slug R_DATE post_name
    Post Content R_MESSAGE post_content
    Topic id TOPIC_ID post_parent
    Topic date R_DATE post_date

    User Section FORUM_MEMBERS user
    Store old user id MEMBER_ID _bbp_user_id
    M_NAME user_login
    M_PASSWORD _bbp_password
    M_EMAIL user_email
    M_HOMEPAGE user_url
    M_AIM aim
    M_YAHOO yim

    [NOTE if you copy this and post in a word doc, you should be able to get a nice tabbed table]
    Note 1

    I used OLDR_DATE & OLDT_DATE from the step 1 as my clean slugs. A slug is what BBpress uses for a URL to reference a post. It needs to be clean – ie not have formatting, odd characters like spaces etc. in it. I did debate using the topic ID, but was unsure if this was unique for BBpress – it may well be fine. So I used the references above as I was pretty sure that with our forum being not that busy, that no two people would have posted in the same second. If you choose to use some other field, such as topic ID, you’ll need to change the field in the converter document – see below.

    This is then used against the example converter that BBpress supplies.

    Whilst initially looking daunting, this is fairly easy to change to get it to work.

    Step 3.1 Creating a Snitz.php

    Firstly go to your site. Using FTP go to web/wp-content/plugins/bbpress/includes/admin/converters and locate example.php. FTP this to your PC and using an editor (notepad ++ is good – download it from you need to change the default “froms” to those above

    But first save it locally as “snitz.php”, and change the first couple of lines to read

    * Implementation of snitz converter.
    class snitz extends BBP_Converter_Base

    If you don’t do this, the converter won’t recognise it.

    Then you need to work through each of the lines of code changing the “default” source database tables and names to the correct ones.

    So looking at you new snitz.php, you’ll see for instance the first conversion is :

    // Forum id. Stored in postmeta.
    $this->field_map[] = array(
    ‘from_tablename’ => ‘forum’, ‘from_fieldname’ => ‘forumid’,
    ‘to_type’ => ‘forum’, ‘to_fieldname’ => ‘_bbp_forum_id’

    So to get this to work for Snitz you need to change the source table from ‘forum’ to “FORUM_FORUM” and the from field needs changing from ‘forumd’ to’ _bbp_forum_id’

    Making the lines now read :

    // Forum id. Stored in postmeta.
    $this->field_map[] = array(
    ‘from_tablename’ => ‘FORUM_FORUM’, ‘from_fieldname’ => ‘FORUM_ID’,
    ‘to_type’ => ‘forum’, ‘to_fieldname’ => ‘_bbp_forum_id’

    Using the translation table above you work through each of the lines, doing the substitution.

    I commented out the tags section, as I couldn’t see that Snitz had tags. I also commented out the “
    Store old user salt” and “User password verify class” sections as passwords won’t come across – see later on this.

    CRITICALLY I also added the following as the example doesn’t had a bit that brings the actual topic content across !

    // Topic content.
    // Note: We join the posts table because topics do not have content.
    $this->field_map[] = array(
    ‘from_tablename’ => ‘FORUM_TOPICS’,
    ‘from_fieldname’ => ‘T_MESSAGE’,
    ‘join_tablename’ => ‘thread’,
    ‘join_type’ => ‘INNER’,
    ‘join_expression’ => ‘USING (threadid) WHERE post.parentid = 0′,
    ‘to_type’ => ‘topic’,
    ‘to_fieldname’ => ‘post_content’,
    ‘callback_method’ => ‘callback_html’

    Once all that is done, save the file locally.

    Then using FTP upload it to the same directory that example came from
    Viz : web/wp-content/plugins/bbpress/includes/admin/converters
    Now you’re ready to run the conversion!

    You’ll need the following info
    Database server (localhost if your using you local Mysql database)
    Database name
    Database User
    Database password

    Then in Dashboard, go to tools>forums>import forums

    Select “snitz” from the converter list, and fill in the database info from above.

    Click to select users, presuming that you want to bring these across.

    Then click start, and sit back and watch. If you’ve got everything right, you’ll see a steady stream of lines such as “converting topics 1-100”

    If Fails :

    If it falls over, then you’ll need to work out which part of the snitz converter it doesn’t like (it’ll give you a line number). Usually you’ve got punctuations wrong, or called something by a wrong name. Remember snitz (in my case anyway) uses capitals, and bbpress needs lowercase, so ensure that’s all ok.

    If nothing comes through (it usually says “starting conversion…conversion complete”), then you have got the connection wrong, as it’s not finding the database and tables.

    If Success :

    Then you’ll need to repair the links (Dashboard>tools>forums>repair forums). Otherwise in my case the forum listings came through, but with no topics listed against them.

    Do as the tool suggests – I ran several at the same time, and wrote most of this document whilst waiting !

    Finally – users

    If you successfully imported your users, they’ll have accounts, but their passwords won’t work – Bbpress can’t bring these across.

    The easiest way is to tell them to click “lost password” and enter their email address and then they can reset their own.

    And that’s how it’s done !

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