Added blogroll managed by Movable Type

One of the things I did in Radio was use the built-in outliner to manage my blogroll, and then use Marc Barrot’s activeRenderer to add it as a component on my home page. Once I moved to Movable Type, I needed to find a way to manage links to other sites from my weblog.

Many people use blogrolling.com to do this. I opted against that for a few reasons. First, I signed up a while ago, and despite repeated attempts to get my login info from them, the site stubbornly refuses to send me my login credentials. I tried signing up with a different e-mail address, and it balked at that too. But the more I thought about it, the more I disliked blogrolling.com as an option. It’s a third party service, which means that this blog’s performance would be at the mercy of their servers. (This is the same phenomenon that causes so many Radio-driven and blogger-driven sites to load slowly: their reliance on third-party comments servers.)

I’m surprised that there’s not a more elegant solution built into Movable Type – the development community has built some pretty incredible extensions to the system (a good directory of plugins to Movable Type is here). Note – there is a blogroll plugin, but it requires an OPML file for rendering; since I’m not using an OPML file that’s stored on my web server, this wasn’t a practical option.

I did find a mention of using as a way of incorporating content into my page. It ended up being a perfect solution.

From Movable Type’s Templates menu, create a new template called “Blogroll”. In this template, create a list in HTML with links to the sites you want to include. (Use the BR tag to force a line break between items.) In your “Main Index” template (the page that controls the look and feel of your home page), under the “Links” sidebar, use the following syntax: . Each time the index page is built, it will incorporate whatever content is listed in that “Blogroll” template.

I went one step further – I created a pop-up window so that I could easily add links to the blogroll from my browser. The URL to the template is:

http://www.sitename.com/movabletypedirectory/mt.cgi?__mode=view&_type=template&id=XX&blog_id=xx

In other words, the template has an ID associated with it, and it’s tied to a particular blog ID. I wrapped that URL inside a simple bookmarklet that creates a new pop-up window and navigates directly to the Blogroll template edit window:

Edit blogroll
(Obviously, if you choose to use this one, you’ll need to change the URL, template and blog IDs.)

Add that URL to your “Links” folder in Internet Explorer (I forget the exact instructions for Netscape and Mac OS browsers, but Google should help there). Now when I navigate to a page I want to add to my blogroll, I just click the button and fill in the sitename and URL. (Ideally, there would be some way to add the URL and page title to the form in the template edit screen automatically, but that’s beyond my capabilities. Anyone care to assist?)