I have changed my blogging software from Movable Type to WordPress, and it took a little while to get over feeling guilty about it. I never really gave Movable Type a real chance, as I didn’t learn to use it beyond just writing posts and having them presented in the default appearance. If it’s possible to feel a sense of betrayal for abandoning something that is not only inanimate but ephemeral, I felt it. For a few hours.
The blog had been added, as had many features of the site, quickly and improperly. I kept meaning to go back and alter the appearance to fit the rest of the site, and to integrate my own header so the menus were present. As so often happens, it didn’t happen. Finally this weekend after constructive criticism from my sister, I put in a bit of time to get the blog looking like every other page.
Movable Type is excellent software and makes great blogs. A couple of things about its design, though, meant I hand’t learnt how to fully customize it. It uses a proprietary system of markup tags to enable formatting and page layout, and I didn’t really want to learn another markup language. Also, pages are implemented as static files, so changing the layout resulted in a lengthy republishing step, even for my small blog. Mostly, though, it was a feeling that I was dealing with an application rather than a language. I’d have to ask MT to do something for me, and then guess where the files were that had been changed, and what had been done to them. I suppose the point is that you’re expected to deal only with the application, and allow it to perform the site publication. But I wanted to change things, take out their header and include my own, and to have snippets of the blog on other pages, and so on. I’m sure there’s a way to do this in MT, but it wasn’t something I could learn quickly.
So I had a look at WordPress, and liked several things I saw. For starters, it’s written in PHP, so to learn to change things I’d have to improve my minimal PHP knowledge, which would be a good thing. It seemed easy to customize and there was not the same feeling of separation from the source files that I’d had with MT. The programmer in me isn’t happy unless I can see the source, and preferably, work on it directly. Anyway it took only a couple of hours from starting reading about WordPress, until I had it running, with my previous content imported, and the header file modified to include my own header and menus. This will also shame me into upgrading the 90’s-era server side includes (.shtml) files) currently serving as the front and back pages, which include a variety of Perl CGI programs through a rather fragile system of hacks I put together. I’ll re-do all the static pages in PHP, and put the CGI functionality directly into the page rather than off in a separate process. Hopefully this will speed things up.
So overall a positive experience, I felt definite pangs particularly when I asked MT to export its own content so another program could take over, but I’m glad it’s pushed me to PHP and the many advantages that offers.