Over the last month I’ve realized there is a lot of confusion surrounding Genesis theme XML files, what they include, and how they work. I’m a bit surprised by this since the XML export and import process is handled by WordPress and not Genesis. The key to understanding the XML import process is understanding that WordPress controls the data export and import and in this case, Genesis is just coming along for the ride.
Why Use XML Data?
I’ve blogged before about my negative feelings towards XML files and their use in setting up demos. I think “some” people tend to use this as the website default and not as a starting point. I’ve seen to many people use the exact words in our demos for their real live websites. This troubles me because marketing and a website should be unique to the owner.
My thoughts aside, XML data is available to give theme purchasers a starting point for theme set up and configuration. The process is there to provide base content (or data) to allow fast configuration. Once done, this default content should be replaced by the user’s own content.
XML files are also used to quickly export content from one WordPress installation and move it to another installation. We’ve used this for smaller websites we’ve launched.
Using a Genesis Theme XML File
- Download a copy of your Genesis theme’s XML file (aka the demo data).
- Log into your WordPress admin panel (as an administrator).
- Install the Genesis framework.
- Install your Genesis child theme and activate.
- Install and activate any required plugins used in the demo/exporting site.
- Go to Tools -> Import.
- Choose “WordPress” from the list of available data options.
- If the WordPress Importer is not already installed on your WordPress install, follow the instructions for installation.
- Upload the demo XML file via the importer’s instructions. Don’t worry, this part is really easy. You just need to know where you saved the XML file on your local computer.
- Map the authors in this XML file export to a user on your installation. For each author, you may choose to map to an existing user or create a new user.
- You will then have the choice to import attachments. Say yes to this so you import content images, as well as home page sliders.
- WordPress will then complete the import process by populating pages, posts, categories, tags, comments, images, and menus.
- At this point you have the content, but you are not finished. You need to assign menus, configure widgets, and populate any theme settings.
Something is Wrong! Nope Not Really
The thing to remember is that the WordPress (not Genesis) XML export process only includes menus, pages, posts, categories, tags, comments, and images. It does not include widget settings, menu assignment, or theme settings. You have to configure this yourself. This is not an issue with Genesis or the theme, but a constraint of WordPress itself.
Also, if you don’t have the required plugins activated then the import may leave out some important parts. For example if the exporting site uses an image slider on the home page, has an event calendar or a store, these content types will be in the XML file. Unless those corresponding plugins are activated in your importing site those content types cannot be successfully imported.
If you are using one of our premium WordPress themes, you’ll need to visit our support forum and review the instructions for configuring the widgets, choosing your menu, and setting your theme options.
One last note on XML files. If something goes wrong with your XML import you can try it again. If some of the content didn’t come through for whatever reason you can import the exact same file again and WordPress will usually just import what didn’t come through so you won’t end up with tons of duplicate posts. (Though menus items tend to duplicate at times for some reason – but they’re easy to delete.)
The other option, especially if you see some content wasn’t formatted correctly because a plugin needs configuring before the file is imported you can delete out all the imported content from your dashboard and import again. That can be a tedious process and probably isn’t worth it when bringing in dummy starter content. But it is sometimes necessary when using XML files to transfer existing sites to/from Multisite installations.