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Stick With Movable Type Or Twist To WordPress?


I’ve been using Movable Type as the power (with a capital ‘P’) behind this site for the last few years and I’ve been pretty happy on the whole. One thing that was missing was a decent WYSIWYG editor (so that when I write a post I can see how it’ll look when it gets published) – but I sorted that one out by using TinyMCE. Another was comment spam but I fixed that with CAPTCHA. Everything was great, it was working happily and despite the fact that I really liked the look of WordPress (more about that later), I was happy to stay put.

Then recently Movable Type 4 was released. I installed a beta version to have a play around and I really liked it. It’s organised similarly to WordPress (which is much nicer to work with than Movable Type 3) and it seemed very slick. That is, until I tried editing a post. Six Apart have implemented their own WYSIWYG editor and, to be frank, it’s nowhere near good enough. I never find myself switching to the plain HTML view to fix something TinyMCE has messed up and it was only when testing MT4’s rich editor that I realised just how good TinyMCE is. MT4 produces some real garbage HTML underneath, doesn’t let you edit the properties of images you’ve placed such as the CSS class or style you’d like to apply to it (unless you switch to HTML view), doesn’t support tables (except with HTML view) and when creating a new post it doesn’t even surround the text with paragraph markers (unless you switch to HTML view) and you end up having lots of line breaks entered instead of paragraphs. These things may seem minor (and there are many more) but they’re annoying enough for me to not upgrade my installation. It’s the 21st century, I shouldn’t have to be hand-coding HTML to produce a basic, standard blog post about my hair or new football boots.

I have attempted to write a plug-in to get TinyMCE working with MT4 but haven’t managed it thus far – the entry editing page is quite different to the MT3 one and is proving rather tricky! Plus I’ve not really sat down and dedicated a lot of time to figuring it out.

I will say though that there are plenty of other slick features I like such as being able to create pages (a la WordPress), manage uploaded files (such as pictures) more easily, some more powerful template tags, finer-grained user permissions, better look-and-feel and just basically a more logically organised front-end. But until I manage to use a better WYSIWYG editor, I won’t be upgrading.

Which brings me onto WordPress. Many times over the years I’ve been tempted to migrate my site over to WordPress. It’s been ahead of MT for ages in terms of features and the fact that it’s written in PHP (which I know) rather than Perl (which I don’t and don’t particularly want to) makes me like it more. The latest version – 2.3 – has just been released and after installing it I’m impressed. The management pages are much faster than MT4’s, nicely laid out, and best of all – it uses TinyMCE for entry editing! I can quite easily write a plugin (plugins are incredibly simple to write since they’re PHP which I know as I said) to use the same options I use in TinyMCE on my current MT install. I’ve looked into migrating the content (pretty straightforward) as well as the layout (time consuming, but not hard) and maintaining the links structure so no links get broken and it’s mighty tempting.

Of course, you as a reader couldn’t care less, you see the output, not the tool that creates the site. “So why are you telling us about this John?” I hear you say – to which I reply that “you’ve got some attitude mister!”. Well I spend most of my time in Movable Type and very little of it actually browsing my own site, and you know what they say: a change is as good as a rest!

I know that the sensible choice is to just stick with what I’ve got now. It works and changing platform won’t really make any different to those reading my ramblings. Just because something is new and shiny doesn’t mean I should instinctively use it. But if I know me I’ll find myself sitting in my house on a rainy Sunday with nothing better to do and then port the lot to WordPress. Or maybe I’ll properly crack putting a decent editor into MT4. We shall see… And in Yorkshire most Sundays are rainy Sundays!

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Creator of John's Background Switcher. Scotsman, footballer, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

10 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Not entirely. I use it to generate the help file that ships with John’s Background Switcher but server based software is the way to go for blogging and such like!


  2. Not sure about iWeb. I think I prefer being in control of the content and the database behind the site. Plus I’d be a bit locked in to the iWeb world.

    As for Drupal Dave, I’ve heard good things about it and had a quick look – definitely worthy of further investigation. Thanks!


  3. Looks like you got around to doing it, but never told us! Just curious – how did it go?

    (I migrated to WP long ago, from Blogger, and I’ve never looked back.)


  4. You’re quite correct Keithius, I’ve already ported to WordPress! I thought I’d leave it for a week or so after I switched before writing about it – just to make sure all was well.

    The short story is that it was incredibly easy and I’m blown away by how good WordPress is. From start to finish it took me about 4 evenings work to do the whole thing including learning how it works, creating the theme, writing a plugin to add some more buttons and relax the HTML restrictions of the WYSIWYG editor plus change the output of the RSS feed slightly, port everything across from MT and recreate the ‘my software’ section of my site as pages.

    It’s incredible how easy it is to extend WordPress and how well written it is. I take my hat off to the developers who work on it! I can’t believe I waited this long to get away from Movable Type, like you I’ll never move back! 🙂


  5. I suggest using genuine Perl CMS only. Why? Because they are safer, faster and less buggy. Drupal and other php CMS systems were created mainly for kids and web designers who find the original Perl language to difficult to learn. It does not take to account the fact that Perl has been there longer and is supplemented with millions of scripts and addons!

    I use WebAPP CMS from: because its both written in PURE Perl and the fantastic 24/7 supporting community.



  6. Ha ha! Rather than call you out on pretty much every assertion you’ve made Murice I’ll say this: you can write unsafe, slow and buggy software in any language – it’s all about the people using the tools, not the tools themselves.

    Oh, and a language being “difficult to learn” is not a positive, it’s a negative if you want people to adopt it – hence why PHP projects like WordPress have such a strong following and development community.

    Web development has come a long way in the last few years and Perl is definitely showing its age – not least by how much quicker you can develop in more modern languages. For an interesting discussion of some of the pros and cons of Perl for large projects (in this case Bugzilla) have a look here.


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