I’m sure you have noticed another change on ./Janella.com. Yes, I keep fiddling with the look, never satisfied with one layout for too long. Every time I think I have a look I like, I tend to find an aspect that doesn’t suit my web site vision.
What is the main vision?
I would like, and hope, that the web site is easy to read and easy to navigate. Some day soon I will probably go back to a splash page for the opening page, similar to Miss Aniela’s home page. (I’m sure I could have picked a different example, but she takes such nice photos. Note: some photos might border NSFW items, so click at your own risk.)
For the blog, I was trying the latest version of Movable Type 4. Remember Movable Type?
Back in the day I used Movable Type to run ./Janella.com. Everything was running nice and smooth, but then Six Apart felt like charging for there product. I could still use it without paying, but it simply seemed wrong. In May of 2004, I switched to a free solution which was Wordpress. Wordpress has powered the site for the last three years. I heard there was a new open source version of Movable Type out there and decided to give it a try.
Well, I liked some bits of it and didn’t like others.
Things I Liked
The templates provided with Movable Type are nice. They mirror some of the templates provided at Vox which is not surprising since Six Apart owns Vox as well. I especially like the cityscape templates created by .tiff - one of my Vox neighbors. The layouts are clean and easy on the eyes.
Notice the red “V” icon? Nice touch. Anything that encourages comments and makes it easier is a welcomed feature, especially since BossaNova, Fina, and MJ use either Vox or LiveJournal.
Things I Didn’t Like
The install is better than before, but it still takes a little tech knowledge to do. It’s not as simple as a Wordpress install - which basically requires you to create the database, upload the files to your web site, access a URL and - poof! Instant blog.
Movable Type is still something like: Upload file into the cgi-bin. Make sure the *.cgi files have the right permissions. Move the mt-static files to a directory and …. Well, it can be a bit to follow. After my fourth install I have it down pretty well.
The Wordpress import of entries into Movable Type wasn’t smooth either. There was a bit of formatting problems here and there. I managed to work it out by first installing an old version of Movable Type (3.3), then installing Movable Type 4. A lot of work. I’m sure the final release of version 4 will be easier on tasks such as this.
I didn’t enjoy that generating your pages produces multiple static HTML files based on categories, years, months, etc. Why have all these files?
Editing templates, styles, and using widgets isn’t as straightforward as it is in Wordpress. I had a tough time creating links in the sidebar, as well as incorporating standalone pages. These things should be easy!
My Final Thoughts
Would I use Movable Type again for the blog?
Yes. Overall it is a nice piece of software, but it has room to improve. It does a good job of handling multiple blogs - if you write on a variety of subjects. But knowing there an alternative that is easy to use and easily has hundreds of different templates, plug-ins and widgets to customize a blog, makes it difficult proposition to change.
My choice is still Wordpress.