Please note that this article is geared towards those with Ning 2.0 Networks as it’s the only version of Ning that allows network archiving.
This article was edited on 09/29/2016 to include the information above and to correct a typographical error in the “Import Capabilities” table.
Edited on 10/01/2016 to reflect update to the Ning to Jamroom Import capabilities.
Last updated on 10/04/2016
First off I’d like to make clear that this isn’t a platform battle/faceoff to determine who gets the crown. It’s simply an article aimed at providing guidance to those looking to migrate their Ning Networks.
There’s a wide range of platforms to choose from but only a select few have a Ning Import Tool readily available. This article will focus on BuddyPress, Jamroom and SocialEngine PHP because I think they’re the best options currently available for those looking to migrate from Ning. Please see the table below for information on data import capabilities for each of the platforms listed above.
|Member Profile (basic info + avatar)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Activity Feed + Comments||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Blog Posts + Comments||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Forums (categories, topics and replies)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Photos + Comments||No||Yes||Yes|
|Videos + Comments||No||Yes||Yes|
|Events (Upcoming and Past) +Comments||No||Yes||Yes|
|Groups +Group Contents (Forums, Blogs etc…)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
The following data will not be imported on any of the platforms listed above:
- Site Settings (privacy etc) and Design
- “Likes/Favorites” on Various Content Type
- View Counts on Various Content Type
- Organized Photos (Albums)
- Member Passwords and Profile Privacy Settings
- Private messages
BuddyPress is not the ideal platform for those with networks in which multimedia sharing is the cornerstone. First off, the Ning to BuddyPress Import Tool does not support the transfer of this content type and that’s because organized multimedia (photo albums, music playlist etc) creation and sharing is not native to BuddyPress. There are plugins available (rtMedia and recently MediaPress) but installing these plugins won’t make a difference and even if it did, you probably won’t be happy with capabilities of these plugins. BuddyPress is just not the platform for networks driven by multimedia sharing. However, the platform is a good option for those who have networks where forum discussions and status updates are the order of the day. Note that bbPress (plugin) is required for forums. WordPress, the parent platform of BuddyPress, is arguably the most powerful blogging platform there is but front end blog posting in WordPress can be a bit tricky (requires plugin) so may need to give regular members access to the back end of the site to publish their posts. There are plugins available that will hide certain areas of the back end but that may be even more tricky and that leads me to the next reason why I usually don’t recommend BuddyPress as a Ning alternative for most – The Plugins.
The unbelievable number of plugins available for BuddyPress or WordPress as a whole is a double edge sword. On one hand, the plugins can be used to extend the functionality of a network to great lengths while on the other hand the installation of multiple plugins (usually from different sources) can dramatically slow down a site. In addition, there’s the possibility of conflicting codes that may lead to a broken site. Speaking of broken site, you may want to steer clear of BuddyPress if you hate doing it yourself and are big on customer service. Help comes in the form of public forums. Some premium plugins offer customer service and there are some fully hosted BuddyPress solutions out there that includes customer support but these solutions tend to limit plugin and customization options.
Stellar customer support has always been one of Jamroom’s biggest strengths and that’s one of the reasons why I’ve recommended Jamroom to some looking to migrate from Ning. The platform comes up strong in other areas as well. The availability of a fully hosted solution – “Jamroom Hosted“, should eliminate the fears of servers that some seem to have about self hosted platforms. In addition, it provides you with access to all modules (plugins) and skins (themes) – free and premium, that were developed by The Jamroom Network. The majority of the plugins available were developed by Jamroom so that essentially eliminates the risk of conflicting codes. Jamroom offer full Import Services starting at $49. The platform also offer features that were customized specifically for Ning Network Creators, however, the lack of a
drag and drop page builder and (Jamroom page builder is drag and drop) design studio may make the learning curve a little steep.
I usually recommend SocialEngine PHP to most simply because it offers the best flexibility and it’s relatively easy to learn. The drag and drop page builder makes things a little less complicated. I still see SocialEngine PHP as the best overall option for anyone looking to start an online community. This is especially true for those looking to go way beyond the standard offerings of an online community/social networking platform. SocialEngine’s vast library of third party extensions/plugins makes it possible to extend or transform a site’s capabilities with relative ease. Of course, the platform has some drawbacks just like any other.
People have expressed concerns about the lack of free support for SocialEngine PHP. The SocialEngine PHP software is backed by a 30 or 60 day “one on one” customer support period (depending on the package purchased). After that period is over, you have the option to extend the “one on one” support for as long as you need for an additional $50/30 days. You also have the option to use SocialEngine PHP free public support forum over at GitHub. This free alternative only provide support for issues (bugs) related to the core SocialEngine software. This means that you won’t get help for issues related to third party plugins or mods.
A Quick Note on GROU.PS
GROU.PS is one of the other (few) platforms with an available Ning Import Tool, however, I always discourage clients from exploring with GROU.PS as a Ning alternative. It looks like the perfect replacement but a quick look beneath the surface will reveal a lot of dirt. You do not want to go that route…trust me. For one thing, the platform is currently in limbo and may be on the verge of collapse.
Last year GROU.PS annoumced that the platform will no longer be available to the general public, effective September 16, 2015. The company planned to focus on a different segment of the market. Get more details about this here: “THE END OF GROU.PS AS WE KNOW IT“. GROU.PS did not follow through on their plans to shut out the general public. They announced plans for a new pricing structure back in August of 2016 (effective September 1, 2016). A move to GROU.PS could mean deja vu for Ningsters.
Hope you found this information useful.