More Manila image migration reverse engineering woes

Let us explore more of the travails of converting a Manila site to another format; specifically images. (This 5-part dysharmonious tale is the third or fourth installment in an ongoing discussion of the forehead-bruising process of collecting all the images from my old Manila site into a single location, focusing on the goal to reliably serve those images without trespassing on server bandwidth of any former webhost that I’m not paying.)

Part the first: Manila Shortcuts – the theory

Manila has this kick ass feature for image uploading called shortcuts. In a nutshell, you specify an image to upload (gif or jpeg, can’t recall if UserLand opened it up to png or not; I’ve never used that format). Assign it a title, which will then become a shortcut. After the image is uploaded, whenever you want to display the image, simply place the shortcut name beween quotes. When Manila sees something in quotes, it checks its little internal glossary to see if the quote-thing stands for something else; when it recognizes that it’s an image, lo! it substitutes the full image tag for the quotes. On the whole, brilliant stuff. Very easy to use. And I used it tons. Tons and tons. Like somewhere between 1000 and 2000 times in the last 4.5 years, but I don’t know the exact number.

Part the second: Manila Shortcuts – in practice

But wait. Let us follow the destiny of one particular image, shall we? I take as my example an image of me (ego alert!) standing in front of the countdown clock at the Shuttle Launch at Kennedy Space Center on June 5, 2002 (as uploaded for use in this post).

susan 4-15 and counting:

Full gory details behind the link. Read it and weep.

The image file goes through these steps to get into my old, Manila-hosted site:

  1. susan4-15countdown17352.jpg — filename on my computer
    (The numbers at end of name are the same numbers as assigned by Nikon CoolPix in generating image file; I keep that number in the filename so I can find all derivative images and originals easily.
  2. "susan 4-15 and counting" — the title/shortcut I assigned to the image in Manila’s Picture upload page.
  3. susan415countdown17352.jpg — the image’s new name (note lack of hyphen in 415) on Manila host server at
    Full path:

Part the third: What’s in the Manila Site root?

Much has recently been said in the server takedown/outage aftermath about the necessity of and provision for backing up websites. Very instructive, very true. Back up your site! And of course, this lil’ (!) migration of mine was a planned one. But only in the last day or so have I discovered all (well, okay, not all, but much of significance!) of the implications of what, precisely, is backed up in a ManilaSite.root file.

A ManilaSite.root file is in a proprietary format– UserTalk or Userland Frontier, or UserLand Manila (UserTalk being the language upon which Frontier/Manila is based). You can use Manila or Radio to open up the site root.

I have worked with two different export processes, and can report these findings about what happens to images when using them:

2 responses to “More Manila image migration reverse engineering woes”

  1. PapaScott » Converting Manila Not

    […] Ich glaube es stimmt bestimmt aber ich wollte doch mal fragen * 7 Jul 2004 Susan concludes that converting Manila is nearly impossible I guess the difference between free and […]

  2. Scott

    Strange, did my pingback just write over Alwin’s pingback? And why did my random automated German song text get included? It’s not part of my post, but it still happens to fit the topic. “I’m sure it’s surely true but I want to ask you anyway.”