The Conversion

After playing with Movable Type for the first time last week, I was sold. It’s a fantastic piece of software, and after installing and configuring it for a project at work — seeing how easy it was, there was no reason not to use it here. The volume of features that are automatic make converting a no-brainer.
For a few years, I had been building this site myself, in the end using a homegrown Perl/XSLT app that was fun to build, but didn’t do everything I wanted it to. I’m excited to learn everything that MT can do.
So, I broke a few links. Actually, all old permalinks are currently dead ends. That’s a huge no no, I realize. I’m working on a mod_rewrite solution. There are also many entries still to be imported. For the past year and a half data was stored in XML — which came in very handy for importing these into MT. But going back a ways, posts were basically handcoded. I’ll have to enter these one by one I’m afraid.
This site now sports comments, search and bunch of other features that I probably don’t even know about yet. All hail, Movable Type. I also rewrote SimplePost and am using the new, streamlined version exclusively for the QuickBits mini-blog in the right column. This’ll give me a place to continue to play with Perl and XSLT. I could’ve easily used MT for this, but it’s hard to part with old friends. The QuickBits RSS feed now lists only the most recent 10 entries, rather than the entire archive. Much better.
The reason for the sudden switch happens to be the fact that we (just today) launched a weblog at Fast Company. FC Now will feature entries and comments from writers that grace the pages of the magazine, as well as a host of other web team members. Should be very interesting. Oh, and it’s powered by MT. The whole thing took less than a week to get up and running.
Now it’s time to talk about things other than boring site news. Please bear with me as I work out the kinks around here.

10 Comments

  1. aliotsy says:

    Excellent…great way to commend you on a very interesting site. :)

  2. Dave S. says:

    Congrats on the switch. Good money says the whole web development community will be running MT sooner or later. It’s powerful, but the most important part is that it’s nice and hackable. Just the way we like our toys. :)
    I had a thread going late last month on perma-links, and mod_rewrite showed up a few times. You might find an answer in there.

  3. Alex says:

    Whoo, comments are here! I can finally commend you on your great work with the Inc.com and Fast Company sites.
    (Sorry, been too lazy to make my way to that contact button over there ;) )

  4. Dan says:

    Thanks to all, and welcome. I’m looking forward to making this more than a one-sided conversation.
    Dave – I agree completely, the hackability and plugin architecture is fantastic. Thanks for the tip on mod_rewrite, I’ll certainly take a look. Unfortunately my old permalinks were anchors that used a Unix timestamp, so my best solution might be at the very least pointing people from /200308#some_number to /archives/2003/08/index.html. We shall see.
    Joachim – from the second paragraph: “For a few years, I had been building this site myself, in the end using a homegrown Perl/XSLT app that was fun to build…” Not exactly PHP/MySQL, but I’ve had my fun of building a CMS in the past :) For now though, MT will allow me to concentrate on other things.

  5. I always wondered if you would ever make the switch, and you finally did. So, congrats!
    I, too, am very excited to be able to post comments here now. I always want to say a little something, but it’s never been a possibility unless I wanted to use the contact form.
    So, great job!

  6. Sunny says:

    Congrats on the switch. Opening it to others is also nice.
    Hopefuly, you will continue with your development of simplepost. I intend to try it sometime.

  7. Dan says:

    Sunny – thanks and fear not, I am still working on SimplePost — it now exclusively builds the QuickBits mini-blog. Just the thing it was suited for: quick little posts. I hope to clean it up even more and post the code eventually.

  8. Heh. Welcome to the group of recent switchers. It doesn’t take long to see the light once you start playing with MT, does it? Sure, MT isn’t everything. But it makes so much easier what we were all doing in our home-grown solutions (or in my case, a bunch of Blogger hacks and workarounds.) Congrats on discovering another cool tool and for getting the site converted. We know what you’ll be playing with on the weekends now…
    I faced some of the same issues with archived posts, and how to deal with old broken links to them. Two entries around that time may be useful reads:
    Redirection Complete — How Stopdesign uses mod_rewrite (in a very “light” way) to deal with requests for old entry URLs.
    Mid-Process — specifically here, you may be interested in ways to create links to old posts which don’t require you using a URL at all. You just use the ID of the entry and MT creates the link for you. Useful if you ever change structure in the future (which hopefully won’t be necessary for a long time now.)

  9. Dan says:

    Doug – thanks for the pointers! Your Redirection Complete post was especially helpful, as I’m facing the same string-to-directory problem. And yes, my weekends will be fun :) There’s just an endless amount of customization. Loving it.
    Joachim – Ha! You know, you are the first to tell me that someone actually got SimplePost up and running. That’s good news :) I should probably change the disclaimer though to something like “with a few simple modifications, it is possible that it still will not work”. Which brings me back to MT, and how impressive and painless an install it was. That’s not an easy thing to achieve. It’s one thing to create something that works on your own systems, but to package it up like that…
    Anyhow, cheers!

  10. Mike Wasylik says:

    Movable Type can do all the hard work of writing your .htaccess file. See Phil Gyford’s article on the topic:
    http://www.gyford.com/phil/writing/2003/03/09/changing_movable.php