July 7, 2004

Moving from MovableType to WordPress

By Saturday last I was limping along on the 4U box, and ready to recreate this website, as well as my Photo Album Pro weblog, by re-entering the stories I’d recovered from the Google cache.

But I was hesitating. I was hesitating because I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep using MovableType as my welog software.

I’d used MovableType originally, about 24 months or so ago now, because it seemed to be the best software out there at the time. There weren’t as many options back then, and MovableType seemed to have the nicest interface, the biggest user base, and it was free. And though I wasn’t a Perl-person, I took the plunge anyway.

I didn’t have much trouble getting it working, and in fact I’ve used it quite successfully for the past year. But I’ve never really been “happy” with it. It worked ok. But I never felt like I was going to master it. I was never going to hack on it. I was never going to make it my own.

Recently there had been a 3.0 release of MovableType, but most of that had been under the hood bug fixes, with few new features. And while we’d all been waiting for that release, any number of alternatives had not only appeared, but appeared to have outstripped MovableType’s capabilities. And of course there were the various licensing issues that have dogged the 3.0 release.

So I sat down and wrote down the pros and cons of continuing with MovableType:

Pros:

  1. I’m currently using it.

Cons:

  1. Perl
    I’m not a Perl person. I’ll never be a Perl person. Shell scripts make my head hurt. Perl makes my head hurt.

  2. Comment spam
    I’ve been getting an increasing amount of comment spam. I wrote my own php-based routines to make it easier to delete spam en mass, but there has to be a better way.

  3. Static pages
    MovableType produces static pages. This might have been necessary when machines were slower, with less memory, but I have a machine with plenty of speed and memory. I want dynamic pages.

  4. Templating system
    I find the MovableType template system unintuitive to use, and time-consuming to debug. Edit, change, save, regenerate static pages, view in browser, start all over again. Boring, boring, boring.

  5. YATL
    Yet Another Templating Language. I’m sure there must be a reason to use a templating language, as opposed to a real language such as php or asp or javascript, but I can’t think of one. I wrote my own minorly successful templating language in 1994, and by 1997 had been convinced that the future was not template languages. So why was I still using one in 2004?

Bottomline: + 1 -5 = -4

Add it all up and it looked like it was time to switch. Time to make lemonade out of the site crash “lemons” I’d been handed.

But to what? That was the $64,000 question.

I’ve been tracking some of the various “which blogging software is best conversations", and the one piece of software that stood out was WordPress. It stood out for a number of reasons. First, it was written in php. Second, it had a big and vocal user community. Third, it was free. Fourth, it was at version 1.2 (better than if it had been at version 0.9 or 1.0). And fifth, even Mark Pilgrim had used it to convert his weblog from MovableType to WordPress.

I clicked around Google a bit more, reading up on as many blogging packages as I could find. But when it was time to make the decision I realized I really wanted one based on php and MySql. And so I took the WordPress plunge.

I downloaded the software. Configured the database. Configured wp-config.php to point at the database. And a couple of config screens later I had new weblog software running. A dynamically generated weblog, that is written in php. Ahhhh, I felt like I could breathe again.

In my next post, I’ll describe some of the changes I made to WordPress, and some of the configuration issues I found in using it with Microsoft’s IIS web server.

Posted by: Frank @ 12:20 pm — Filed under:

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