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Dialing In Movable Type blogging software

Movable Type Publishing Platform (Blogging software)Been dinking around with my new installation of Movable Type (v3.35), configuring both the display page (the part you see) and the admin interface (where I compose entries).

As with Windows, the installation takes only an hour-or-so, but subsequent tweaking and configuration can take days to dial in (just the way you want) .. just like it did with the new forum installation.

I'm done playing with the part you see (.. for a while anyway). Content is always more important than (mere) style.

For example, I tweaked the published pages (you see) so *links* turn orange when you roll-over them with your cursor. (Default style makes them white.) That page can use a little more color to brighten it up.

But I couldn't figure out how to make the link's underline go away on the roll-over. I know how it *should* work, but it wouldn't go away. No biggie.

••••• today's entry continues below•••••

Regarding the admin interface, I darkened the default white, since staring at a white page for hours makes my eyes burn. (It's like staring at a 100-watt light-bulb.)

The style sheet that controls the appearance of MT's UI (the part I see) is enormous. I also installed the Enhanced Entry Editing plug-in("JavaScript WYSIWYG editor," which is pretty cool), so I had to figure out how to tweak that too.

One tool I found helpful in determining *what* needed editing .. was the Firebug plug-in (for FireFox). It put me in the right ballpark (which is how I discovered I needed to edit the WYSIWYG plug-in).

I was about to give up (actually, I *did* give up), and closed the MT program. When I re-opened it later, I discovered that all my style-tweaks had worked. Live-n-learn.

The only thing I couldn't figure out how to do was w-i-d-e-n the entry area. You can see where I widened the wrapper, but was unable to widen the text-entry area. (I was able to do that fine with my old v2.63 installation.)

Update: I finally found the place where to widen the text editing area. Default was 570. I cranked it up to 720 (a 26% increase). Much better.More room to work with (width). See > HERE for an updated screen shot (43-KB).

It's best to do all this configuration tweaking up front, before many entries accumulate, so duplicating work is minimized.

For example, after installing the Enhanced Entry Editing (WYSIWYG) plug-in, I noticed that the first post became one giant block of text. Had to go back and break it up into individual paragraphs. Nothing major (10 minutes), but if it had been many posts .. uh, that woulda suk'ed.

I installed Plug-in Manager. What a royal pain! Wouldn't recommend it to any but the most determined troubleshooters. Need to learn lotsa little tricks in order to get it to install. For masochists only.

Also installed the Comment Challenge plug-in, an anti-spam plug-in .. since I had such a bad experience with spam with the old blog .. that I had to disable all comments on that blog.

I also installed alogblog's MTy plug-in CCode and TCode.. to help control comment & trackback spam. Pretty straightforward. Only problem I had was confusing the file mt.js (found in static directory) with mt-site.js (found in publishing home directory .. for me /blogs or blogs.radified.com).

Also note that you can't simply download this file to your computer, edit it (embed obfuscator.js into mt-site.js) and re-up the file, cuz every time you rebuild your site, it will revert back to the file withOUT obfuscator.js code.

So you must instead open mt-site.js in your MT admin template window and edit it from there. Then save & rebuild. Took me a couple of rebuilds to figure out what was going on. 

I also installed a little plug-in called Wordometer, which counts the number of words in an entry. For example, the first entry .. contains 170 words in the first section (before where it says "today's entry continued below"), and 1861 words in the extended entry (after) .. for a total of 2031.

Anyway, I'd much rather be composing entries .. than configuring the Movable Type software.

The *best* part of this new WYSIWYG editor (plug-in) .. is that I no longer have to re-code links in the blog from text transferred from the site's home page. I used to have to re-code all the links with the old blog. Now, copy-n-paste, and I'm done.

Takes about 15 minutes to re-code links for the average entry (using "Convert Line Breaks" as the text-formatting option. Glad to be done with that.

The TinyMCE plug-in has itself a ton of plug-ins available, such as spell-checkers. Very powerful. I wonder how much of a hassle it would be to use those plug-ins with the Enhanced Entry Editing plug-in I'm using now.

A small quirk I've noticed with the TinyMCE editor .. is that, if you START entering any text using the WYSIWYG interface, you can't make any edits using the raw-code interface (after clicking the toggle on/off button) .. until AFTER you rebuild the page.

In other words, if you want to make any edits in raw-code mode, you need to do it *before* doing anything in/with the WYSIWYG interface. If you have, simply rebuild the page. Took me a while to figure that out.

Regarding TinyMCE (currently at v2.1), Arvind says:

Believe TinyMCE v2.08 comes with latest version EEE. You can upgrade by downloading the latest TinyMCE and upload it to MT_STATIC/plugins/EnhancedEntryEditing/tinymce (the directories should correspond as per tinyMCE's installation instructions). Please note however, that upgrading TinyMCE might break it's implementation in MT, in which case, I can offer no support.

You can also install plug-ins by following TinyMCE's plug-in installation guide. In addition to uploading the plugin files to the necessary directories, you need to activate the plug-in within the TinyMCE configuration (which can be reached through EEE's plug-in settings, Blog Settings > Plug-ins).

Byrne says the next version of Movable Type is going to include the Rich-Text editor used in Vox. Haven't yet tried the editor in Vox (free), but will soon to see what's in store.

I updated my copy of TinyMCE to v2.1. It installs *all* the plug-ins, or at least the files are included with the download, and I uploaded them to my site. Seems to be working okay. (I'm using v2.1 right now. Now I need to figure out how to activate those plug-ins in EEE. Actually I only wanted the spell-checker.)

Okay, I got IE-Spell working. No problem. Maybe I'll see about the other Spellchecker, see if that works too. Oh, SpellChecker doesn't come with the rest of the plug-ins, with TinyMCE download. Need to download that one separately. Wonder why they didn't include it? Maybe cuz you first need to edit the PHP file: config.php. Here's the download.

Okay, I got SpellChecker working too, the Google option (since it was default), altho I think I like IE-Spell better. Doesn't hurt to have two. SpellChecker toggles on/off and underlines questionable words.

Also tried the Pspell option. Think I like Google option better than Pspell (not much difference, really)but I like IE-Spell best of all.

I also added the ContextMenu plug-in to TinyMCE. It's okay. Easy to install. Nothing ground-shattering, tho. Also added emoticons plug-in (to TinyMCE). Cool They have a small white border that I'm not crazy about (on this black background). Also added full-screen plug-in. Now *that's* cool. Gives you a lot more room to work with.

Also added the style plug-in, which lets you do some cool stuff with text. Also added visual characters plug-in. This one doesn't seem to do much of anything for me. These plug-ins are simple to add, which is why I'm adding so many.

I also enabled LaunchBackgroundTasks, as mentioned here > How to Speed Up Publishing in Movable Type. This produced a noticable result. Of course, I only enabled LBTs *after* I was unable to get FastCGI to work.

The more I use this upgraded version of Movable Type (4 years newer than the old version I was using), the happier I am that I upgraded.

There are a few more plug-ins I'd like to look at.

Update 19.May.2007 - I installed the Live Preview plug-in. Very cool. Easy to recommend.

Caution about your prveviously posted entries disappearing from blog's main page, if you decide to continue editing (prior to "publishing" a previously published entry) > by clicking the "Re-Edit this entry" button. Could be confusing before you figure out what happened to your entry.

But it changed the status of my entry from "published" to "unpublished". See HERE for more. Not sure if a site rebuild was responsible for the confusion. But all links to the entry disappeared!!! Only a direct link to the page's URL revealed the (previously published) entry was still there.

So yes, I think the problems arises when you rebuild your site after clicking "Re-Edit this entry" (for a previously published entry). Another side-effect of this is all your pings will go thru again after you finally do "Save" a previously published entry. You'll see what I mean. Not really a problem, but I'd rather n ot re-ping previously pinged sites.

It shows (previews) *exactly* how your web page will look. I installed it using Byrne's Plugin Manager, which seemed to work fine. (Very cool when it works.)

I'd also like to read thru the User Manual (120 pages), but for the most part, I'm done configuring this puppy.

Today's entry contains 1344 words (147-primary 1197-extended). If this installation of blogging software serves me 4 years, like the last one did, I'll be happy.

For more along these lines, here's a Google search preconfigured for the query > movable type admin interface configuration 


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Comments (4)


Test of Comment Challenge plug-in.


You must type the word 'rad' below.

Yeah, Plugin Manager needs some love. It is a hard core proof of concept that is insanely powerful when it works. I have a lot of mods in development which I haven't released yet which will go a long way to make it suck less. Stay tuned to its blog and be notified when the unsucked version is released. :)


I woulda been more diplomatic if I knew you were gonna stop by. =)

I stayed with it, cuz I could see how cool it would/could be to have your Plug-in installed & working properly.

I'd be glad to share some of the specific problems I had, in the hope it might help others.

First, I think you assume folks using your plug-in know more than they do. If you assume they're idiots, and spell things out in more detail, it would be appreciated. Or maybe one set of instructions for power-users, and another for dummies.

I had a problems with trying to unzip tarball. For some reason (I use IE7 with WXP Home SP2), the file was changed from *.tar.gz to *.tar.tar. (Weird, I know. Never had that happen before.)

Took me a while to figure this out. Soon as I changed file extension back to*.tar.gz, I was in business (could extract using winzip).

Adding a *.zip file, as most other sites do, would've saved me trouble. Seems easy for you.

I also tried to extract the tarball in the MT home directory, but could not figure out ow to do this. I uploaded and right-clicked on the file, but could find no "extract" command. I use SmartFTP,latest version.

Some simple instructions for Windows-users would've helped.

That pre-checker you have is very cool. Similar to MT pre-install checker. Gives a warm-n-fuzzy feeling when it says you're system is good to go.

I only needed to archive file (archive/extract?) and the Simple file (simple.pm?). I working from memory.

After the install, I errored on launching the plug-in, but found a post that said re-launching mt.cgi would do something to the tables which would fix that error problem.

I don't recall the exact error, but I sure you know what I'm talking about. I searched for the error in Google and found a helpful thread.

Once I launched mt.cgi again, it immediatately said I need to update your plug-in, which I did, and it did. to 1.05 I think. That was also pretty cool(self-updating).

Lastly, for some of your other plug-ins, such as feed manager, it says to enter the following URL, but I see no URL. Which puts me at a loss.

Here's a screenshot of what I'm talking about:


See highlighted text. Where is the URL?

Update: following screenshot is from IE7. I re-checked with Firefox and *can* see the URL .. but, uh, you should tweak it so URL can be seen with IE, which most ppl use.

Again, my point is to assume your uses are idiots (and we won't disappoint you).=)

Laguna Beach

While we are on the subject of plugins...

Are there any out there that create a nice page layout, but utilize the lightbox, thickbox, or any of the javascript features that open the picture right on the page? I like Byrne's photo gallery, but want my pictures to open like his screen shots do.

I'll download it and play around.

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