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I've converted a client website from Joomla to WordPress. However, there is one aspect of the old site I haven't been able to replicate perfectly without modifying core WordPress.

The goal is to automatically create a tree navigation menu where each link in the menu links directly to a page similar to the way Drupal and Joomla created the menus for this site previously. Obviously, I could build each link by hand using the new "menu" feature. But for 500 pages, this is going to take a long time and it would result in losing one of WordPress' best features!

The only way I can think of to solve this is to make every blog post a 'page' so that articles can be children of parent pages. The drawback to this approach is that I can no longer create categories or tags which is a major setback. However, the main problem with this approach is that it changes the URL permalinks for the website which haven't been altered in over 7 years.

Rather than having a URL of example.com/my-keyword-phrase/ the URL would become example.com/parent-keyword-phrase/child-keyword-phase/

I need a solution to keep the URLs the same, yet still have a hierarchical CMS style menu. The only solution I've found online is one that requires breaking updates by modifying core!

http://wordpress.org/support/topic/page-permalinks-without-hierarchy-parents

Any ideas?

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You'll need to get around a custom walker. This answer by @toscho is detailed enough to help you get around it.

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In case someone comes across this thread, the answer to my question is to use a filter to modify the URL via a plugin:

http://webdevstudios.com/2009/11/02/change-wordpress-permalinks-on-pages-to-have-a-html-extension/

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