About this site's lack of design: Yes, it's supposed to look this way — I'm helping create a new sandbox theme for WordPress (see it on GitHub).

Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Design, random musings, and the Web. Since 1977


MovableType to WordPress

I’ve done it: as of 10 minutes ago, and thanks to some convincing conversations with Bryan and Steve at SxSW, I decided to finally make the move to WordPress, and leave MovableType behind.

It wasn’t an easy decision: I’ve been toying with the idea for almost a year now, and, like with most relationships, I was comfortable and didn’t see any reason for change (though there were reasons, believe me).

I didn’t just want to use any old existing template for this conversion, and I wasn’t in the mood to use the then-current design of SB (which I haven’t been fond of anyway), so I opted for a new design, using an idea I sketched while on vacation in January. Now, this is an experiment as far as I’m concerned (Firefox users: yes, I know some post titles, such as the one you’re reading now, end up under the speech bubble; it works in Safari, so I’ll just have to play a little… nevermind, I fixed it; IE/Win users: aside from scolding you for not switching to Firefox already, there are a few bugs I need to fix, but it’s not a priority — while you’re waiting, snack on a feed), and I’m pretty sure I’ll replace it very soon, but I wanted to see how it would work on a live site, and I also needed a guinea pig for my first real crack at a WordPress template (I had started converting Keith’s BlueBlog template a while ago, which I had finished on the XHTML/CSS end, but that stalled…). I’ll collect my thoughts on the design itself and some of the issues I faced turning it into a live layout as well as converting it to a WP template, and post those separately soon.

The short of it is, I’m now using WordPress, and I can already tell you that I won’t be going back to MT. It’s nothing personal, I just feel like WordPress is more writer-friendly, and for someone like me who needs a swift kick in the writer’s rump more often than not, a more pleasant writing environment makes for more frequent writing.

I have to thank Bryan and Steve for their incredible patience with my time-restricted learning curve over the last few weeks, and also for their help with WP template tags, MySQL queries, mod_rewrite voodoo, and general moral support. Guys, I owe you each at least one beer…

So the question is: Why do you use (insert CMS name here), and what makes you love it?

This item was posted by Dan Rubin on Monday, April 3rd, 2006.


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24 comments on “MovableType to WordPress”

  1. Posted by Patrick Haney on Monday, April 3rd, 2006.

    What the…?! When did you put this new layout up? And where the hell was I that I didn’t notice?

    Congrats on moving to WordPress, something I plan on doing soon. MT makes me cringe.

  2. Posted by Dan Bowling on Monday, April 3rd, 2006.

    Glad to see another high profile blogger switch over to WP.

    I use WordPress myself too for now, as I mostly do blogging on my site. WordPress offers a great templating system, documentation and an even better community. That, combined with the huge number of plugins, WordPress is clearly the best blogging solution.

    As soon as they get their act together, I plan on switching to Symphony by 21 degrees though. Their XSLT based system and standards compliance seem top notch, but their software is by no means ready for production. Their system is more of a real CMS, so I think I would still keep WordPress as my blogging solution.

  3. Posted by Faruk AteÅŸ on Monday, April 3rd, 2006.

    I use my own hand-crafted CMS; I love it because of many things. I hate it because it’s proprietary to my former company (who I created it for) and I can’t take it with me to a new host :(

    It’s got a lot of aspects that I personally think are done much better than, say, WordPress. The URL structure and general dynamics of the system are much “smarter” to me (i.e. no ?page_id=### by default, no weird distinction between the blog and pages, etc. etc.) but as said, proprietary, limiting my ability to use it in the future :(

  4. Posted by Ryan Brill on Monday, April 3rd, 2006.

    I use TypeSpace, and I love it because I wrote it. ;)

    One of these days (aka years) it will be available for public consumption, and it’s got some pretty nice features, if I do say so myself.

    Unfortunately, a lot has been holding me back from releaseing it, including the obvious issue of supporting it. I bairly have time to finish it up, much less deal with the support requests that are bound to come pouring in…

    Anyway, nice design. The only thing I don’t like is how small the content area is. Makes it a bit hard to read.

  5. Posted by Nik Steffen on Tuesday, April 4th, 2006.

    Glad to see you moved to the WordPress Camp. I like the new site design aswell, just that the vertical text in the sidebar boxes is a bit hard to read. Part from that, great job!

  6. Posted by Koen on Tuesday, April 4th, 2006.

    I use typo and I love because it helps me to get familiar with/and to become a Rails-guru :D

  7. Posted by ACJ on Tuesday, April 4th, 2006.

    First of all, I kind of like this design. I think I prefer it over the former.

    To answer the question: I have websites that are powered by MovableType; I have websites that are powered by WordPress; and then I have websites that are run by hand-crafted cms. My personal site is currently powered by an older — rather heavily hacked — MovableType install, and it still gets the job done. If I’d ever switch, it could only be to this new cms I have been crafting in my head for over a decade now. I plan to put some serious work in said cms after graduation, which should be in about three months.

  8. Posted by Jonathan Snook on Tuesday, April 4th, 2006.

    I still use MovableType. I haven’t seen enough of a leap in featureset to make the attempt at jumping to WordPress. If I had to start a new blog right now, I’d choose WordPress or Expression Engine. Or roll my own. :)

  9. Posted by Dan Rubin on Tuesday, April 4th, 2006.

    Patrick: You didn’t miss anything, the new layout comes with my switch to WordPress… and it will be changing again fairly soon :)

    Ryan: No fair using your own, those of us not smart with computer-ized thingys have to use what other people build… ;) I agree about the content area, for some reason I have a desire to try things that I know might not work, just to prove it to myself… that’s one of the main reasons why the design will be changing again soon :)

    Nik: Agreed, and similar to my reply to Ryan, it’s more an experiment in shades than anything else. I started this layout as if I were designing a printed page, and I wanted to see how it would fare in the real world, under actual use. And it’s turning out to be a pain in the ass :)

  10. Posted by Anton on Tuesday, April 4th, 2006.

    Nice! I did the same thing recently.

  11. Posted by Nathan Smith on Tuesday, April 4th, 2006.

    First of all, great re-design.

    Secondly, I use Textpattern, and what I love about it are the XML style templating tags. It means no fussing with PHP includes. It also allows you to build your logic fairly easily, for switching dynamic parts of a site.

    If Textpattern didn’t exist though, I’d probably be a WordPress fan.

  12. Posted by Paul D on Tuesday, April 4th, 2006.

    I started building my blog in WordPress but never got it done. There was just too much finicky mucking about in PHP and producing pages that didn’t work right.

    Then I tried Textpattern and had my site up within a day. It’s a lot more intuitive to adjust pages and templates using Textpattern’s system, and writing is just as nice with Textile.

  13. Posted by Dan Rubin on Tuesday, April 4th, 2006.

    I’ve heard many good things about TextPattern, but to be honest every time I’ve tried it I get distracted by the ugly UI — I may be turning into a bit of a UI snob here, but that’s also why I had to install Steve Smith’s Tiger Admin plugin for WordPress before I was 100% happy using it.

    I am attracted to well-designed “things” — UI’s, furniture, cars, tea mugs, phones, computers, suitcases, shoes, you name it. The experience of using something aesthetically pleasing makes my life better.

  14. Posted by Chris Griffin on Tuesday, April 4th, 2006.

    I tried WordPress and I hated the templating system. I hated it so much I got rid of wordpress within hours of installing it. If you are not that familiar with PHP then WordPress is probably not for you.

    Movable Type’s templating system on the other hand was a lot easier to learn than WP. If you overlook the rebuilds and the installation, there’s really not much to not like about it. I guess I don’t know what all the fuss is about.

    I use textpattern to run my Portfolio site and I learned its template system in a weekend and got my site up and running over the span of a few weeks.

    But I don’t think Textpattern is that great of a blog publisher. It seems that its trying to do way too much being a CMS and a blog publisher at the same time. The interface is not pretty but I like a lot more than WordPress.

  15. Posted by Dustin Diaz on Tuesday, April 4th, 2006.

    Where’s the naked <body>? – I was expecting to see the redesign come right after ;)

  16. Posted by Aleksandar on Tuesday, April 4th, 2006.

    Now, this is much more likely design. :) Simple (enough) yet very distinctive – very good work.

    I use WordPress. I started way back – used MT pricing thingie as an excuse. I was never comfortable with MT they way I wanted to be and switched to WordPress because:
    – it had fired-up developer community
    – it was free and will stay that way
    – sicne it’s PHP based, it allowed me to do whatever I want without interfering with base code

    Reasons for not going TextPattern way – the same as yours. UI is a real turn-off.

  17. Posted by Tony on Tuesday, April 4th, 2006.

    I use WordPress (on 4 different sites) because I find it to be the easiest *and* most powerful tool for the job. The plugin functionality is very powerful, and users have written so many great plugins it’s enough to make your head spin. Each of my installations is very different…both in look and feel, and functionality. Each has a different set of plugins enabled, although there are some common plugins I install in every new installation.

    The templating system is one of the best I’ve seen. So easy, yet so powerful.

  18. Posted by Dan Rubin on Wednesday, April 5th, 2006.

    Dustin: Nothing like putting a new design in place only to strip it bare less than 48 hours later, eh? :) And I’m still contemplating a new design for the May 1st Reboot…

  19. Posted by Phu on Friday, April 7th, 2006.

    “that’s one of the main reasons why the design will be changing again soon”

    I’m glad I got here before you did. What a lovely redesign!

    Personally, I use WP because it makes the boring stuff easy and allows me to concentrate on the bits I find more interesting, namely designing and writing.

    I’ve done my time developing custom CMS’ but sometimes you want something that just works. No need to worry about spam, or messing around with a templating engine. I know my way around and so, I can figure out ways to get it to work for me without me having to put in a great deal of graft.

  20. Posted by Zach Inglis on Saturday, April 8th, 2006.

    I like the new theme very much!

    Welcome to the Dark Side too :D

  21. Posted by Jeroen Visser on Saturday, April 8th, 2006.

    Congrats Dan, on the new design. Looking good, but I find the contrast of the headings (‘menu’, ‘projects’, etcetera) to be pretty low. And turning them on their side adds a little extra challenge to reading them.

    As for the TextPattern UI: wasn’t it the beauty of XHTML and CSS that you could change the presentation without having to touch the structure? Hence: why not a TXP Tiger Administration CSS?

    My current experience with TXP is that it is incredibly elegant, simple and powerful. But apparently its presentation belies its ease-of-use.

  22. Posted by Dan Rubin on Sunday, April 9th, 2006.

    Jeroen: Regarding the menus, thanks for the input, but remember this is mostly an experiment (a luxury I can afford since this is my personal site). I’m interested to see the reaction to ‘labels’ like those in columns 2 and 3, since they are indeed low contrast and verticle. I wanted to see how far I could push the contrast barrier.

    I take issue with TextPattern’s UI not only because of how it looks, but also how it works (in my experience, it wasn’t as intuitive as WordPress — that’s not really a measurable problem, but I have to feel comfortable with my personal publishing system).

    If someone were to provide an alternate ‘skin’ for TP’s admin, I would indeed give it another try, but it would have to do more than just give it a facelift.

  23. Posted by cristinamarie on Tuesday, April 11th, 2006.

    Not too long ago I owned a domain where I blogged. I used Movable Type and had someone else install it for me. I, not too familiar with installtion etc, I thought having someone else install it to my site would be great. Even afterwards, I found it difficult to navigate and I did read the “how to” install/setup MT to your site. Now I’m with WordPress and I find it very easy to navigate through the so-called undesired mess.

  24. Posted by patrick on Thursday, April 13th, 2006.

    For what it’s worth, I REALLY like this design, especially so because it mimics a print piece (and well).

    Having used both WordPress and TextPattern, I found TxP fare more confusing and much less intuitive than WordPress. If you know PHP, WordPress is a better way to go due to the template tags.

    They are both easy to be up and running with in less than an hour, so they both win there.