My “constant readers” have probably noticed that I keep changing the look-and-feel of this blog about once every two weeks. It’s mostly because I get tired of looking at the same theme all the time, and there are plenty of free themes out there to choose from. A bigger change has happened this time, however, but it is (hopefully) fairly seamless and shouldn’t affect how people use this blog – basically I’ve changed blogging software again. I’ve used several different tools over the years – Blogger, Livejournal, Movable Type, and now WordPress. I had considered switching to WordPress before. Where Movable Type is closed-source and based on a payment model (if you want full support), WordPress is free and open source. I mostly didn’t switch for a long time because of inertia. Despite any issues I might have occasionally had with Movable Type, it was pretty stable, and got the job done. Changing things around would have been too much effort, especially since I had configured Movable Type the way I liked it – I wasn’t sure if I could recreate the same features in WordPress.
Then, about a month or so ago, the newest version of Movable Type starting behaving pretty strangely, throwing up weird errors and generally taking forever to build new entries. I also noticed from looking at Beau’s site that my copy of Movable Type was actually missing some of the features I was supposed to have, despite the fact that I had installed the same version on both of our sites. The biggest problem was that the “save post” button had stopped working, and it was driving me crazy.
I finally decided at that point to just do a complete clean install of Movable Type to see if that would fix my problems. I had to export all of my old entries and import them back into a new installation of MT. I also had to track down all of the helpful plugins I was using and re-install them. The whole effort took a good night’s work sitting in front of a computer, but when I was done, MT was running better than ever, and it looked like all of the kinks had been ironed out… except that it still took forever to “rebuild” posts, and every once in a while I’d get a weird server error and have to rebuild again and again. I dealt with it, though, because I had invested too much time into MT and didn’t want to make the change… until this week.
I recently set up a blog for my friend Tony. I installed WordPress on the site because I thought it’d be easier to set up and use for someone non-technical. Movable Type is great, but it’s got quite the learning curve. Part of setting the site up meant that I had to go into the WordPress dashboard and play around with the options, and as I spent more time in there trying to figure out how to configure the blog to Tony’s liking, I found more and more features that seemed really great/useful. The biggest draw is the WYSIWYG editor built into WordPress – on Movable Type, I had been working with a plugin based on Textile for a long time to make it so that I didn’t have to write complicated HTML just to post an image, but WordPress makes thing much easier right out of the box.
So, earlier this week I sat down one night and started looking into what it’d take to make the switch. I tracked down all of the plugins I’d need, I exported all of my entries, and I got cracking. You see the results before you now. There were a few hiccups along the way, and I am still finding the occasional entry that didn’t format correctly, but for the most part, things look pretty good. I’d recommend WordPress to others. It’s a much more elegant blogging system, and It’s much easier to change things around.
The plugins are great, but the best part is that when I needed to reconfigure a few things, I could just jump in and edit the PHP code, no problem – this is one of the biggest differences between WordPress and Movable Type. MT is written in a language that I have no familiarity with, and it’s much more difficult to dive in and start tinkering with the MT code. MT also uses proprietary tags to make the template files, where WordPress just uses PHP code and function calls.
As you can tell, I’m pretty happy with the switch so far, although I’m still working on changing around a few things.