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Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Suffering from chronic idiocy since 1977

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MTSETUP Alpha Testing

New on the list this week is a little project I’ve been thinking about for a while, but never started work on (until this weekend).

When I first discovered MovableType, I marveled at its abilities, at the freedom it gave to its users. I was then perplexed at its lack of any kind of automated setup script to assist folks who might not be too comfortable with editing even a few lines of a configuration file. The thought crossed my mind to create on myself, if only to help speed the process of setting up multiple MT installations, but since that wasn’t a process I was actively engaged in at the time, the idea was shelved.

Fast-forward to the present: Webgraph is using MT for quite a few personal and commercial projects (paying the licenses of course), and we’re doing more installations than before — enough to make me revisit my idea.

This weekend, I set about creating a basic script that would take input from an HTML form, and write out a basic mt.cfg file. It is in very early alpha stage, but I believe it is ready for some brave alpha testers, since my input alone will result in a project which serves only our specific needs, and I believe this sort of utility is best made in the public interests.

Thus, I present to you MTSETUP 0.1a — the initial version has been built in PHP (since we use it on all our servers), though I intend to port it to Perl and ASP once the features and functionality have been decided upon.

If you would like to add your name to the list of alpha and (future) beta testers, please send me an email and I’ll get you started.

I’ll set up a separate page for MTSETUP soon, but in the meantime, a quick description of its current behavior:

MTSETUP 0.1a / PHP Edition
MTSETUP uses a stripped-down version of the standard mt.cfg file distributed with MovableType, eliminating all the comments, and leaving only the configuration lines. All comments/instructions are moved to the HTML form. The form initially hides most of the settings (via the DOM) and every setting that is disabled (commented out) by default in the stock mt.cfg file has its input field disabled by default in the HTML form (this is intended to prevent new users from enabling a feature by mistake). After submitting the form, the script writes the config file to a new subdirectory, ready to place in the default MT directory.

A few notes of interest: I am not a master PHP developer, so there are many items at this stage which can (and will) be optimized (for one thing, I’m sure there are quite a few opportunities for using arrays). Also, currently the script only writes a new file, it does not read in existing CFG files (this is planned for a future release). Finally, the script does require that it’s containing directory is set to world-writable (chmod 0777) so it can create the subfolder and CFG file.

I’m completely open to comments and suggestions, and even PHP tips for those of you who may be so inclined.

“To Infinity, and Beyond!”

This item was posted by Dan Rubin on Monday, September 15th, 2003.

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13 comments on “MTSETUP Alpha Testing”

  1. Posted by Mike on Monday, September 15th, 2003.

    That sounds like a great idea Dan, can’t wait for it to be fully operational!

    I’m not sure when the next time I’ll be installing MT will be, but count me in as an MTSETUP tester.

    Sorry I couldn’t email you, I’m on a computer at a lab right now ;)

  2. Posted by Brye on Monday, September 15th, 2003.

    Good idea. I’m surprised that no one else has done this already.

  3. Posted by Bryce on Monday, September 15th, 2003.

    i misspelled my own name above. it’s Bryce.

  4. Posted by nate on Tuesday, September 16th, 2003.

    Same here, i think it is a great idea… I wish it was around when I started to use MT. I emailed you about being a tester.

    and BTW, nice site!

  5. Posted by Mike Steinbaugh on Wednesday, September 17th, 2003.

    Ah yes, a very good idea indeed. I signed up for beta testing. Let’s get the ball rolling. Did you e-mail Ben and Mena about this? I bet they’d be interested.

  6. Posted by Scrivs on Friday, September 19th, 2003.

    I am still amazed no one has done this before.

  7. Posted by Dan on Friday, September 19th, 2003.

    Thanks to everyone who’s signed up for testing so far. I’ll have the download/info site ready for you tonight or tomorrow.

    As for notifying Ben and Mena: I’m sure they have probably heard about it already via the grapevine, but I don’t want to officially contact them until MTSETUP reaches beta, at which point I will actually be able to show them how it works, rather than how I expect it to work :-)

  8. Posted by Jeroen on Tuesday, September 23rd, 2003.

    I remember once installing a search script, which made me wish all scripts could be installed like that.

    I only had to fill in a small form (site URL, FTP username and password) on the site of the creator of the script, after which the install procedure would detect the perl path and cgi extention, FTP all files to my server and create the configuration file. Within a minute I had my script configured and running, without any technical knowledge about my server!!!

    You can see this installation in action at http://install.xav.com/. Maybe you can have a look to get some inspiration?

  9. Posted by Jacob Patton on Wednesday, September 24th, 2003.

    I’d like to test out your script, too!

  10. Posted by Dan on Wednesday, September 24th, 2003.

    Quick Update: The first alpha version has been released to the testing group, so we are officially moving forward. Since this is a job in my spare time, the schedule may vary for new releases, but it will continue to be improved, with the main goal being a public beta release in the not-to-distant future.

  11. Posted by Rahul on Monday, September 29th, 2003.

    Jeroen – Wouldn’t something like that be hideously insecure? Giving off your private FTP information to a site without knowing what kind of dodgy things they might do with it?

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