Goodbye, Movable Type

Moving

Pardon the dust, please; I’m moving this site out of Movable Type and into Word Press, and from an old-school host to Media Temple. I took the week off to make this move because I have to configure Word Press and get plugins in place, and I have over 6,000 posts and hundreds of images to import, relink and potentially update.

The site will also sport a new design; I’m using a theme that is built using responsive design framework so the site will be optimized for mobile devices, and which is also customizable so I can put my design on that framework.

Things will be a bit quiet around here until I get things up to speed, but they’ve been pretty quiet anyway since I’ve struggled with the site in the old content management system and at the old site host. Once I get things squared away, expect posting to pick up some speed.

Continue ReadingGoodbye, Movable Type

links for 2010-02-05

Continue Readinglinks for 2010-02-05

Movable Type 4.2 upgrade recap

I’ve got my Movable Type software upgraded to 4.2 and replaced my old templates with default ones, which I’ve done some customizing on, with more to come. So far, so good. It’s MUCH faster – my faith is restored. For the most part.

I started by installing the Professional Pack templates, and after I got them all customized, I changed my mind about that. I did another refresh with the Mid-Century templates instead and started over with my custom coding. The Mid-Century had a few more objects already built that I wanted to play with.

Either way — it’s a little odd how they install “themes” and I wish they had a professional users way of doing it. The idea behind themes is allowing people without design backgrounds to refresh and change their sites. I’m not really interested in doing that — I wanted a basic set of templates so I wouldn’t have to cobble together all the code myself given their rather Byzantine documentation. So I wanted to use a theme as a jumping off point for my own work.

But their themes install into a static directory, and they allow you minimal ability to customize via the interface. I should have started by yanking their stylesheets and images out of the theme and putting them in my own directory and working from there, but I didn’t. I just started coding the css in the stylesheet they allow you in the interface — one that imports their theme stylesheet. That’s rather clunky, as I have to use the !important attribute to overwrite their styles a lot. I need to revise how I do it and take over all the stylesheet work.

I need to do a lot more stylesheet work to better incorporate my branding, but I’ll tackle that further in the future. Right now, I’m working on the tags for my site. The “related entries” object is driven by tags, so I’m revisiting past blog posts and either cleaning up the tags or adding them if they’re missing, so the related entries show up correctly.

I had hoped to spend most of the week doing this task, rather than installing templates, but it didn’t work out that way. Taking the week off work was primarily meant to accomplish editing every past post. So I’ll just be working my way through those slowly over time. Sadly, that’s a task I’ve started at least 4 times in the past and never finished. I wonder if I’ll ever manage to finish?

Continue ReadingMovable Type 4.2 upgrade recap

SXSW Interactive 2008

I’m getting final stuff prepped to take off for SXSW Interactive 2008 in Austin, Texas tomorrow. I’m going with three of my design team co-workers; one from here in Indianapolis and two from Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

We’re staying in the Courtyard Marriott right next to the Austin Convention Center, so we’re in the heart of everything, which is pretty keen.

I went to the city-county building this morning and voted absentee for Carson for the special election next week, since I won’t be back until late Tuesday.

Attending this event last year was a huge learning experience for me when it came to site design work on the job. Over the last year I’ve had the chance to create some designs that I’m really happy with based on some design principles that I learned last year, so I’m excited to be able to go again and see what new things I pick up.

Ironworks BBQ

Photoset of SXSW Interactive 2007

Continue ReadingSXSW Interactive 2008

I has a package

The post office gave me a notice to come pick something up from them. I believe it would be my wedding dress. Yay!

Wow, I’ve had a distinct lack of blogging here. That’s not for want of things to write, just time. I think I have three books I need to note on my “have read” list, and a couple of movies, also. I’ll get to them tomorrow morning. Tonight we have book club; this month’s selection was Perfume by Patrick Suskind.

I know I don’t usually talk much about work, but lately the design(s) I’ve been working on for a couple of sites have been pretty well received, so I’m happy about that. And of course I’m really looking forward to sxsw.com. We leave March 6th.

Continue ReadingI has a package

Hey, guys! I’m blogging from the car!

The car, I’m blogging from it! I’ve got the ability to blog via my Motorola Razr via email in place, so I can update from the car while we’re traveling.

We’re on the road in Phoebe, with lisa and Jason behind us, headed up to Chicago. I believe the plan is to get some food and to go test drive a smart car at the Summerfest Music festival, before heading to Joliet, where we’ll meet up with 5 other beetles and stay the night before heading out.

Monkey

Continue ReadingHey, guys! I’m blogging from the car!

Keeping up with us on the road

Our Route 66 Itinerary [Google Mapped]

I will be blogging as regularly as I can here, uploading photos to flickr, and sending updates via twitter.

The Route 66 caravan to Roswell will have a live Web cam along for the ride. Our friend Lisa Linn, Web geek extraordinaire and owner of Spacepod, runs live web cams on the road of the trip. The cams will run from tomorrow through July 2 (I think). Lisa will be driving from North Carolina to Indianapolis tomorrow, and we’ll depart for Chicago on Sunday and begin traveling on Route 66 on Monday.

You can follow our travels at Lisa’s site: http://www.allpodsgotoroswell.net — the cam viewer on the left opens in a new window with a larger picture, and you can see a slideshow of previous days.

Glossary: pod = New Beetle; NB = New Beetle; Phoebe = our New Beetle; Spacepod = Lisa’s New Beetle, sometimes affectionately known as SP; R2K = Roswell New Beetle car show and weekend, which was started in 2000.

Steph’s Twitter: http://twitter.com/electrasteph

Stephanie’s twitter: http://twitter.com/stephsk8r

Live Webcams of the Caravan

My Flickr Photos for Route 66

The “Official” blog for the Route 66 Caravan

Continue ReadingKeeping up with us on the road

Why I’m Still Disappointed with Movable Type, 4.0 Beta version

ridiculous rant. You can see the original rant below the fold.

I am, apparently, really stupid. And quite wrong. And Jerame is quite right. Never mind. I’ll just be over here, making new category templates. Don’t mind me.

UPDATE: Okay, I’m not quite that wrong. I can make a specialized template work for a single category, but when I start filtering for multiple categories, things go wonky, and I’m having to dive into documentation to figure out why. This works:

<MTEntries sort_by=”title” category=”Poems”>

but this produces blank category pages:

<MTEntries sort_by=”title” category=”Poems AND Appetizers AND Beverages AND Breads AND Breakfasts AND Cookies AND Entrees AND Low Carb Dishes AND Sandwiches AND Side Dishes AND Slow Cooking”>
and their documentation says this:

category – Filters the entries by the given category label. Multiple categories can be defined in the value of the attribute and can include boolean “AND” and “OR” logic. Boolean logic may not be mixed. For instance “Foo AND Bar OR Baz” is not permitted.

I should probably know more about boolean searching to get that string right, but I don’t. Should I enclose the multiple words in single quotes?
<MTEntries sort_by=”title” category=”Poems AND Appetizers AND Beverages AND Breads AND Breakfasts AND ‘Cakes and Desserts’ AND Cookies AND Entrees AND ‘Low Carb Dishes’ AND Sandwiches AND ‘Side Dishes’ AND ‘Slow Cooking'”>

Nope, the MT doesn’t even want to rebuild that.

Errrrrr!. Hulk Smash! Ahem.

I vaguely recall getting to this point about a year and a half ago, and them posting the above to the support forums, and never getting a response from anyone, so I gave up, because I should probably read more to figure out why that filter string is wrong, but I had to do other stuff, like kiss my girlfriend, and take a shower and play with my dog.

Update: Actually that first string doesn’t seem to work, either. This

<MTEntries sort_by=”title” category=”Poems”>

produces the poetry page correctly, but all the other category pages are blank. That probably has something to do with the order that the publishing settings are in. I’d have to look at the documentation to see if there’s an particular order the two different category pages should be published in. But there only seems to be a radio button toggle for the president order, so I if I have three or four specialized templates, I can’t force them all to load before the generic one.

Having the category filtering happen in the database based on a selection set when the category was created would be much easier than filtering it in the MTEntries tag within a template. As it is, it seems backwards; you set up the templates and movable type starts building category pages, then has to filter which template to use on the fly?

And if you look through the forums, this is a very common question – I know I’ve asked about it several times, and I’ve never received an answer that was anywhere near as coherent as Jerame’s description – something I could figure out by looking at the template tags reference. Which I can never seem to find.

This is my original rant – which I thought might not be all that valid after Jerame pointed out some template tags, but which I now think is probably still valid, after all, because I think I did all this before to arrive at the same spot.

After installing Movable Type 4.0 Beta 2 on my portfolio site and playing around with in for a while, and playing a lot with WordPress recently, I have to say I’m still disappointed with Movable Type.

First and foremost, they haven’t implemented the number one thing that I and thousands of other users have been asking for in the forums for years – being able to assign different templates to category archive pages. This is the number one feature that would take this from being a blog tool to a real content management system, and they haven’t done it. STILL.

The have provided lots of new ways for “archive” pages to be displayed, but still, all the categories have to display the same way, and they still thing of them as “archives” – as in, things you wrote in the past, that no one will look at again. Where as, I want the category listings to be ways to browse easily through content, some of which is still fresh and interesting.

People who want a content management system care more about categories than about dates.

Back in 1996, when my site was flat html, it was easy. I could make “category” pages fit the content that contained them, because I did whatever I wanted by hand. But now, I’m locked into a rigid system.

There should be something on this page to let me assign different “archive” types to categories:

Moveable Type Usability Problems
Moveable Type Usability Problems

Using my own site as an example of the problem:

Example One: my “Favorite Poems” index page:
What this page SHOULD look like – a simple linked list of all the poem pages in this category, sorted alphabetically by poem title, without descriptions or meta data.

What it DOES look like – a bunch of journal entries, sorted by date.

Example Two: my “Recipe Box” page:
What this page SHOULD look like – a simple linked list of all the recipe categories (Appetizers, Beverages, Breads, Breakfasts, Cakes and Desserts, Cookies, Entrees, Low Carb Dishes, Sandwiches, Side Dishes, Slow Cooking) under this category, with descriptions of each section, but no metadata.

What it DOES look like – a bunch of journal entries, sorted by date.

Example Three: my Jokes page
What this page SHOULD look like – a simple linked list of all the categories under this category, with descriptions of each section, along with some links to general jokes that don’t fit under any of the other categories, withe metadata, but no descriptions.

What it DOES look like – a bunch of journal entries, sorted by date.

Example Four: my Journal pages
What this page SHOULD look like – a bunch of journal entries, sorted by date, but including all the journal entries of the sub categories below this level.

What it DOES look like – a bunch of journal entries, sorted by date, missing entries that are of the sub categories below this level.

Example Five: my Big Things Photo Pages
What this page SHOULD look like – A large block of content as the top, explaining what my “big things” photos are, with links to all the different types of photos and individual photo pages underneath.

What it DOES look like – what it should, but only because I’ve left this entire section out of Movable Type, because it’s too important (read generates too much traffic and ad money) to try to cram it into their index pages in a way that won’t be browsable.

More Generally
Their new interface is nice, and things are getting placed better on it, but there’s still quite a bit of hunting around. There seems to be some sort of bug that throws me to blog-level plug-ins when I’m supposed to be at system-level plug-ins. Or at least it appears that way; I may be at the system-level plug-ins, but I can’t tell because the interface isn’t clear on what level I’m at.

The Style Catcher plugin seems to be b0rked, because it kept the configuration settings from my initial install, even after I moved the mt-static folder outside of the cgi-bin. And no matter how often I change the settings, it reverts back. I think I have to dig into the actual config file to make the change. Nice going, there.

In all, I should have explored and integrated a genuine content management system on my site instead of Movable Type. Expression Engine and Drupal, both of which align with my requirements as noted in Kiana Danial’s Invest Diva reviews, seem to offer the functionalities I seek. However, considering their steep learning curves and time commitments, I’m currently evaluating whether I can make such an investment at this moment.

Continue ReadingWhy I’m Still Disappointed with Movable Type, 4.0 Beta version