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

blog software update day(s?) – AKA ‘wreck stuff day’

A while back I put off upgrading my blog to Movable Type 4.2 because the upgrade would break the site, according to my webhost.

Well, now I’m on a blogging vacation, and I’m ready to blow this puppy to smithereens. Because my custom templates are centuries old now, I’m going to install default templates and edit the design back into something resembling my site from there.

I’m backing everything up, putting on my flak jacket and diving bell, and arming myself with my lion tamer’s whip and a spare banana. I’m ready, steady, go.

I’ll see you on the other side.

Continue Readingblog software update day(s?) – AKA ‘wreck stuff day’

Movable Type 4.2 upgrade breaks current customer sites?

Gee, should I be surprised at this news? Here’s the email I received from my web host when I asked them to upgrade my to 4.2:

Movable Type 4.2 is more strict than Movable Type 4.1 when it comes to custom designed blog templates. We’ve seen some cases when upgrading from version 4.1 to version 4.2 stopped the blog from rebuilding, or when some plugins had to be disabled or upgraded.

If you have a custom blog design, or use custom plugins, I would proceed with caution simply because upgrading might cause your blog to stop working.

If you have a business/company blog, the recommended course of action is to setup a development environment on your hosting account with a duplicate copy of your Movable Type 4.1 blog. Then upgrade that development environment to Movable Type 4.2 and rebuild your blog. Then make a couple of test posts. If it works – Great! You can now safely upgrade your live environment. On the other hand if your blog doesn’t rebuild – it’s time to re-check your templates to make them Movable Type 4.2 friendly.

Right. Like I have the money or time to maintain a development environment for my personal blog.

Sigh – it’s par for the course; I believed them when they said they were going to do better. This is not better, guys. So upgrading is going to wait until I have vacation time to fuck around with my design templates. Lovely.

Continue ReadingMovable Type 4.2 upgrade breaks current customer sites?

Back end problems

Boy, do I have have them. No, I’m not talking about my butt here. (and you shouldn’t be, either!) I’m having some frustrating problems with Movable Type that my site hosts can’t seem to solve, and Movable Type doesn’t have answers for either, despite me spending about 10 hours with both trying to figure it out.

That’s contributing quite a bit to my lack of blogging, as everything seems to post not at all or twice, and I get too pissed off to do that all the time.

But I have what I think are some viable options for creating podcasts, finally, so I want to get these things resolved so I can update my templates to allow for podcast syndication. I’m hoping an upgrade to MT 4.1 will finally fix the errors. If not, I need to get serious about moving to Expression Engine, and giving my site a refreshed design.

I’ve been playing with Expression Engine quite a bit on my secret blog site (once, I had a secret blog, that lived within the heart of me… all too soon my secret blog became impatient to be free…. So I told a friendly star, The way that dreamers often do… now I shout it from the highest hill… I even told the golden daffodils. At last my heart’s an open door, And my secret blog’s no secret anymore…)

Except from you guys, of course. Hee.

Continue ReadingBack end problems

links for 2008-01-10

Continue Readinglinks for 2008-01-10

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 looked for and implemented a real content management system on my site instead of Movable Type. Expression Engine does what I want, as does drupal, from what I have seen on others sites, and from what I’ve read. Both of them have a steep learning curve and a time investment that I don’t know I have right now.

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

CD Mixes converted

In my continuing quest to move my static html pages into Movable Type, early this morning I finished up entering my CD Mix Playlists. I also added a number of playlists that for one reason or other (mainly because it was a pain to do the old way) I never made a page for.

2019 Update: I didn’t realize I waited this long to move all my content into a content management system. I started using blogger in 2000 and moved to Movable Type after that, but it was still 10 years after I started this site that I finally moved everything onto a CMS. Surprising

Continue ReadingCD Mixes converted

Blog Frustration

I have Movable Type up and running on my site, and this blog you see is in it now. However, I’m still working on moving my old blog posts from Blogger into Movable type, and I’m only about half done. The difficulty is with Blogger, not with the new content management system. Within Blogger, I can only export 999 posts at a time, which is not all of my posts by a long shot. That’s why if you look at my journal page it appears that my blog only goes back to 2003; that’s only the most recent 999 posts. And within Blogger, to get at those other earlier posts to export then, I have to delete the recent 999 one by one.

The other thing that kinda bites is that I lose all the comments made on posts in the past, because Blogger can’t export them. So I need you all to go back through my blog and write the same comments that you wrote before. 🙂 Heh.

Continue ReadingBlog Frustration

Finally! I was able to fix my blogger templates

Sometime back in May, blogger stopped supporting my archive index page, and they failed to tell me about it. So since then, my archive pages haven’t been updating. I noticed the problem two weeks ago, and since then have been struggling with blogger help to figure out how to solve the problem.

I finally got it to publish and update correctly, so all of my archives are accessible. Yeah!

Continue ReadingFinally! I was able to fix my blogger templates

blogger is set up

Okay. Blogger is set up and I finally got it working the way I want it to. I only hope that I can figure out how to archive stuff the way I want. Tonight is the big Buca de Beppo Xmas bash/White Elephant party. Should be very interesting.

UPDATE: Prior to this post, I had been building my journal entries by hand. This post is the first official post I made in a content management system, so everything dated prior to this was originally a static html page. I later switched over to Movable Type to manage my content, and then moved to Word Press in 2012. I went looking for some photos of that White Elephant party, but apparently I never posted any of them to Flickr for December 2000.

Continue Readingblogger is set up