We are a Windows shop, and have installed WordPress on machines running Windows Server 2008 / IIS 7. We have a development server, staging server, and a production server. We develop on the Dev server, test on the Stage server, and publish to the Prod server. I have an efficient process for moving from one tier to the next, which involves zipping up the WP directory structure and backing up the MySQL database to a .sql file, and then unziping the files and restoring the database on the target machine. Then I run a search and replace script on the database to adjust for the URL change.
This process works well if there is no content in Prod that needs to be saved (e.g. Forum topics and replies). However, we are now adding a forum using the bbPress plug-in. Once the forum is active, we don't want to overwrite the existing topics and replies in Prod by restoring the database from Dev (which will have no replies). We want to capture any design/thematic changes, any media that we've added, etc. from Dev, but don't want to overwrite the Forum content (or other user-edited data).
I tried using Tools/Export to export the Forums, Topics, and Replies. But when I restored the resulting files to the server, the replies were no longer associated with the correct topics. It also only allowed me to attribute the replies to a single user (instead of the original authors). I ran every option in bbPress' Repair Forums utility, and that didn't help.
This seems like a common issue faced by developers, one for which support should exist, either in the form of a plug-in or a WP feature. Has anyone faced and overcome a similar challenge? If so, how did you do it?