Friday, May 14, 2004

Notes on Movable Type 3.0, Drupal and Word Press

Well, I don’t really care about the massive licensing debate that’s raging in the blogosphere. This is sophisticated software, and it’s worth paying for. End of story. If you want free software, try Blogger. If you want low-cost blogging software, TypePad is fine. Movable Type is a robust content management system that rivals sophisticated CMS software that used to cost enterprises 5 or 6 figures (at least).

But I’m surprised that the purported performance gains aren’t more substantial. I have around 1500 entries in this weblog, with a dozen or more categories, and rebuilding the site (Movable Type generates every entry into a static file on the webserver) is still a considerable process. On my server, rebuilding all individual entries still takes four and a half minutes. And that’s on a mySQL-backed MT install, on a shared webhost with four 2.4 ghz processors (each with 512k cache), 1 gig of RAM and a 1 gig swap file. Seems like 4.5 minutes to rebuild the system is a long time.

Note that if you use MTBlacklist, it doesn’t currently support Movable Type 3.0 (Jay Allen is nice enough to note that it’s not the other way around). I haven’t found other integrations that break (I use quite a few) so far, but will keep looking.

The comment management seems nice, but I’m not certain whether I want prescriptive comment blocking or whether the MTBlacklist approach is enough.

I’m not inclined to switch — MT is elegant, it does exactly what I want, and I know it inside and out. On the other hand, I would much prefer a system that not only stored its information in a database but which published from the database (instead of rendering static files). Both Drupal and WordPress appear to be good PHP-based systems along those lines.

On that front, Jonas is quite fond of Drupal, and I admit to liking it too — just not enough to give it a whirl as my weblog home. It strikes me as not enough of a weblog app while being too much other stuff that I don’t need… its templating system requires a lot of understanding of the Drupal core, and that’s not what I want to be doing these days.

WordPress, on the other hand, looks decent. A full import of my Movable Type system took WordPress about 20 seconds; because it doesn’t render static pages, the entire site was instantly “published”. For a variety of reasons, however, my site isn’t yet ready for primetime in WordPress, nor do I expect to convert. But it was an interesting validation of WordPress’s abilities. The main reason I’d need to some serious tweaking: I use Textile from Brad Choate, a plugin that makes drafting in the browser much easier. But it means that the underlying source for my posts in Movable Type is not converted to “normal” HTML, but is a kind of short-hand. Consequently, my exported weblog (using MT’s built-in exporter) shows the short-hand. In order to be able to use something like WordPress (or any other blogging system, for that matter), I’d need to first get Textile to handle the export — something I’m not sure how to do…

In any event, this is a necessary process for Six Apart and one that will likely yield benefits for users — either as Movable Type gets better, or as the user communities for other systems grow.


  1. I moved to WordPress a few months ago, and it was the best thing that happened to my blog. I wrote a How To move from Movable Type to WordPress over at my blog, which might be of interest to you.
    WordPress lets me do everything MT did, and the support and user community positively rock!

  2. I agree whole heartedly about having a common sense pricing scale for powerful software tool like MT. Though having been through the VC experience myself I could not help but imagine the blood letting that is going on behind the scenes of Six Apart which has gone from an extra bedroom start up to a company with a large infusion of VC money - money that is going to make large demands & dictate course of future development.

    I think MT is a heck of a tool to be used internally for knowledge exchange and management, even at large companies. At the prices they are charging, be it high for a hobbyist blogger, it's a steal for companies including law firms who rummage through emails and email folders looking for messages & attachments.

    Glad to hear your positive comments about WordPress. We use MT for development work but have considering switching to WordPress for a number of reasons including its open source background. Did some testing and looked good. Though would require some backend interface work to get as user friendly as MT for the masses of lawyers.

  3. Re: Drupal "it's templating system requires a lot of understanding of the Drupal core"

    Not true, Drupal allows you to create templates in a number of different systems, the xTemplate system uses plain XTML and CSS files (with a few simple place holder tags) to create templates.

    Here's my template for Drupal:


  4. In the case of WordPress, at least, it has full support for Textile. In versions prior to 1.2, you had to edit a configuration file. In 1.2, you need only turn it on (either 1.0 or 2.0) on the proper configuration screen.

  5. yea i have heard some grea things about word press and i like their layouts too