rediscovering movable type

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This blog has been running on Movable Type ever since I started it in back in the fall of 2002. But in recent years I've stopped building new sites with MT because I found it increasingly complex and convoluted--from the install process to the templating tools.

Unfortunately, I haven't had much luck finding a replacement to straddle the line between blogging and CMS. I gave WordPress a try, but it's too limited. Creating non-blog sites on a WP backend requires complex hacks, and not being able to run multiple sites/blogs from a single install is aggravating. My next stop was Drupal, but the learning curve for Drupal is just too freaking hard. I don't want to spend days poring over reference texts just to be able to put up a quick and easily edited site.

Faced with a new web site building project over this holiday break, I reluctantly decided to take another look at Movable Type in its latest incarnation. And I must say, I've been pleasantly surprised. The included templates for a "professional website," along with an easier install process and a clearer template/module implementation, made it fun for me again.

Yes, the documentation is still woefully lacking. And yes, it's still a bit of pain to customize templates. But compared to learning Drupal or creating my own custom CMS, it was a walk in the park. It took me about two days to figure out how to significantly hack the basic professional templates to provide things I needed (like automatically-generated drop-down menu navigation using folder and subfolder names). And in the process, I gained enough comfort with the overall templating language that I feel as though I could easily build something more customized now.

The best part of all this is that I now feel comfortable updating and expanding my original Movable Type courseware system for packaging and distribution using the new version of MT (which is free for personal and educational use, so there are no price obstacles, either). I suspect I won't get a chance to work on that for a few months, most likely over the summer, but you can plan on a new version being available for download and install in plenty of time for the 2009-2010 academic year.

(As an aside, in case you were going to ask, the site I'm building now will be public in about a week. I'll post about it, and the extremely cool company I'm building it for, when it goes live.)

1 Comment

That's wonderful news! I'll be eagerly awaiting your new and updated courseware system. Still using the old templates in my courses (e.g. http://eew712.leidenuniv.nl/~zandee/statistiek/blog0809/ )

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This page contains a single entry published on November 26, 2008 4:03 PM.

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