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I'm looking at converting 20 years worth of articles, currently stored as HTML in a MySQL DB to AMS. Each of them contains images in <img src="IMAGE" />, which I can easily convert to BBCODE for use in AMS.

I've done some test converting to AMS, and all looks good so far

Screenshot 2021-08-02 at 15.21.02.png

However, its seems that AMS only makes the thumbnails if the images are attached - is that correct?

Both of these articles have images in the article as BBCODE img tags.

Am I going to need to convert all of these to attachments to create thumbnails for all of these? Or is there a setting I'm missing that will grab a thumbnail from say, the first image in the article?

AMS uses the Core XenForo Attachment System to upload attachments to articles. The COVER IMAGE system that I designed for AMS uses one of the uploaded image attachments OR the Category Image (set on a per category basis), so you'd need develop a function in your import process that takes one of those hot linked images and adds it as an attachment. Hope that makes sense?
Having looked into the XF attachment system, I think what I'm going to do is change our current thumbnail image name to {article_id}.jpg, and then in the templates, check if the article is post-import and if so use the normal way of showing it, if it is before then link to {article_id}.jpg

I'm just posting this here in case (a) someone else wants to do this, or (b) this could be a very bad idea, and I don't yet realise it.