Movable Type 3.2 Impressions
I just upgraded to Movable Type 3.2 a few days ago, and as predicted, it has just enough nice new additions to keep me, once again, from switching to WordPress (sorry Matt!). If I were starting from scratch, WordPress might be my chosen platform, but MT gives me enough to keep me happy, and it’s still arguably better than WordPress in several important categories.
- I’ll start with perhaps the only major disappointment in MT 3.2 because that is what I would like the community’s help on: search. Since the beginning of time, Movable Type’s search function has been a severely limited raw CGI query which outputs ugly search results incapable (without serious hacking) of displaying themselves on a PHP, ASP, JSP, or other dynamic page. If you wanted the search results page to look nice, you had to either hack some design love into the cgi output or do what I currently do: set your CGI search results as a PHP variable and output the results with PHP. It’s a horrible hack and the worst part about it is that it doesn’t even return results 100% of the time. If the CGI query doesn’t return in time or gets throttled by MT’s search throttler, you get an empty record set. Anywayyyyyyyyyy, I am sick of this. Really, I am. So I got to thinking… why hasn’t someone just written a simple PHP function to query MT’s database and return a record set? Am I missing something here? Why would that be a hard/bad thing to do? If anyone is willing and able to do this, I, and plenty of other Movable Type users would be eternally thankful. The function would just need to take in search terms and return an unordered list showing a linked entry title, entry date, and either the MTExcerpt field or the first X number of words in the entry. Anybody see any problems with this? Seems like something a PHP/mySQL expert could do in like an hour, no?
- Movable Type has vastly improved the cleanliness of their URLs. You no longer need a mountain of hacks to produce custom, extensionless, search-engine-friendly URLs. This is a huge improvement and I am very thankful for it. However, it’s still missing one bit of flexibility I’d like to see, hopefully in the core, but perhaps in a plug-in: I like to save my files out with .php extensions for easier identification and editing, but on the web, I want to refer to them as extensionless. Movable Type will let you refer to them as extensionless, but only if you save them out as extensionless. What’s really needed in this case is the ability for MTPermalink (and any other tag which returns a URL) to automatically strip the extension off the end. Right now, I’m stuck using a regex in all of my MT templates to accomplish this.
- The Movable Type interface has been tidied up and beautified quite nicely with this latest addition. One of the main reasons I chose MT over WordPress from the beginning was the nicer interface, and MT has widened their lead in this department with 3.2. Matt showed me the new Aqua-like WordPress admin skin in San Francisco last week, and it looks nice, but I’m pretty happy with what MT 3.2 has done (besides using 10px Trebuchet all over the place… had to switch that to Lucida Grande, ASAP).
- The new trackback moderation is nice. I’ve already pretty much licked comment spam on my own, but illegitimate trackbacks have always bothered me. With MT 3.2, you can keep trackbacks from being posted immediately without applying this moderation rule to your comments as well. I want comments posted immediately. However, with trackbacks, immediacy is not as important… so this new feature is great.
- The new plug-in framework sounds great, and I like the name: BigPAPI. Good times.
- My favorite plug-in, MT Notifier, has been updated to work with MT 3.2 and it functions even better than before.
- Still no live preview, Six Apart??? C’mon! I need the ability to publish a new entry directly to a non-publicized URL (without it pinging anyone or adding it to my feed) to check visually intricate entries for design completeness and general visual quality. The only way to (kind of) do this right now is to publish your entry with a date long in the past and turn off pinging temporarily. That way, it’s live, but nobody knows about it. Horrible solution. Please fix.
Anyway, my overall opinion of this new version of Movable Type is a positive one, and I do recommend all MT users install this upgrade… but we’re still not quite there yet. I’ve been bugging Anil on IM a lot over the last couple of weeks, and both he and the Six Apart team are aware of these little nagging issues. They are dealing with them as time allows, but I of course, must continue pushing…