Friday, May 2, 2003

Site overhaul

As of today, I’ve converted from using Radio Userland to Movable Type for the maintenance of this weblog. The net effect to most readers will be transparent – for readers in the aggregator, you’ll continue to get the same RSS feed you’ve always read. (Note: there’s also an abbreviated feed available if you’re interested.)

First, a few reasons why. Radio is a powerful application that serves many functions, some of which have little to nothing to do with weblogs. (Radio’s outliner is a wonderful organizational tool, and paired with activeRenderer it serves as a powerful web publishing platform.) That said, it was hogging CPU cycles on my laptop (Pentium 4 2 gigahertz processor, 1 gigabyte of RAM), so much so that frequently I had to shut Radio down just for other apps to run. This meant I couldn’t just leave Radio running in the background. (Note: this is a somewhat unique situation, as I frequently use CPU-intensive applications like VMWare to do software demos; VMWare needs the cycles, while Radio’s consumption of CPU cycles was less predictable and less necessary – it was idle for long stretches and still would use 97-99 available CPU cycles (out of 100).)

In addition, I was finding myself frequently away from my primary PC. Since Radio is an application installed on one PC, this meant I couldn’t publish to my weblog without having my laptop fired up.

But the biggest reason I switched was Movable Type itself. It is a powerful application, clearly designed to be the best-of-class weblog application. I’ve now used Blogger and Blogger Pro (from 12/01 to 4/02), Radio Userland (4/02 to 4/03) and Movable Type and MT is far and away the most elegant, most polished app I’ve used for managing content on this weblog. Once I figured out I could force MT to export to the same archiving naming convention that Radio used (thereby preserving all inbound links from Google, other weblogs and articles I’ve written), I made the plunge.

I will be working over the next few days to polish off a few rough edges. I need to build back in some functionality that MT handles differently than Radio – my blogroll (will likely use for this, but I’m not positive that’s the case), my many outlines (which were previously created and edited in Radio), and some other minor details. If you find anything that needs fixing, please let me know!

I will document my conversion later on (I’m writing this post from an airport lounge in Boston), but I started by using Bill Kearney’s Radio exporter tool. The output was not particularly clean – many URLs were broken (spaces got inserted in strange places), and a lot of HTML code remained where it didn’t belong. I’m not sure how much of that is Radio’s issue and how much is Kearney’s, but either way I wanted to have a clean import. I then used Vestris’ XReplace, a phenomenal text editor I’ve used for years for projects like this. (It’s a powerful search/replace tool.) I then ran a few test imports into my Movable Type installation at, and finally did a final import and went live at around 10am central on Friday, May 2.

On the balance, I’m very happy with this switch. (I moved my other weblog, focused on the Dean campaign, on Monday.) I’ll follow up periodically with lessons learned. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.

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