Movable Type blogging software is here (open-source this time). An interesting application for the weblogs and the blogging dummies! Six Apart Ltd., a 6 year old company from San Mateo, California, launched a well rounded package a few years ago for those who wanted to host their own blog. Its 4.01 version is still free for individuals and non-profit organizations. Therefore, this blog software is available with its source code. However, the company prohibits any redistribution or any commercial use of the same.
Its features are largely aimed at the beginners with little or no experience in programming. If you plan to install Movable Type on your website, it would be helpful if you have a little knowledge of Perl Scripts and Linux. (Well, I did not have almost ANY such background and I was able to do it) Basically, Movable Type is server side software made in Perl that can be customized as per user requirements. It can be best associated with MySQL on your server. If you plan to host it yourself, ask your hosting service to give you complete details about cgi folder and where the scripts are located.
Techno Savvy Gigs…
Movable Type is written in Perl and is essentially server side software. You need to install it on your server or the network, in order to test it or view its functionalities. Although once the files are uploaded in the correct folder, the script automatically generates the necessary database files. You can also easily set up number of blogs; however, you would need to access the file system on the server. You may need to access the file systems on the server and adjust the permission settings once again.
MT 4 is a lot easier to install than its predecessors but little bugs still remain that needs to be fixed. On the other hand, it has its own advantages as well. It uses the flat text file database that means it is useful even on systems that do not use SQL as database. It also has support from mail services like Sendmail.
Once the server side is set up, you can now configure the client side with “Blog Config”. The Core Setup allows you to create a new blog. You can set your preferences to allow anonymous comments, email new comments or allow comments by default. After logging in as Admin users you can add more users, set up templates, add blogs or edit the existing ones.
Getting Ready To Be Dynamic…
Installation process for Movable Type can be quite a daunting task. You need to download the complete zip file and unzip it on your local machine.
Log on to your FTP server and locate your root folder where all your files are located. It can be ‘www’ folder located on your server. In my case, it was ‘web’ folder.
Create a new folder may named as ‘blog’ or ‘myblog’. Choose suitable ftp software like CuteFtp or may be your Windows Browser to upload all the files from your local machines to this folder on the server. If you are on a lousy connection, it can take forever to upload the files. Be sure to be on a stable connection and definitely not on a dial-up.
Once the files are uploaded you can chmod them. This you can do by two ways.
1. Select all files >> Right Click >> Choose Properties / File Attributes >> Select
Read, Write & Execute for Owner Permissions
Read and Execute for Group Permissions
Read and Execute for Public Permission
2. If you are working on hosting server directly, then may be you can do it in a single click. File Manager >> Select All >> click Chmod. You shall be provided with permissions for all folders as well as individual folder. Set the permissions as stated above and click “Set All Permissions”. Saves you from a lot of mundane jobs.
Once the files are uploaded you shall get the Movable Type welcome screen. Now you can easily configure the basic settings to make your blog up and running. It shall check the server settings automatically and ask for the database server settings.
You shall need to configure the database at this point.
Choose the Database Type as MySQL and database server as localhost. Give you database name, username and password.
If you have no idea about what is being talked about, talk to your hosting provider about the details.
You can get an error if you specify a wrong database name.
Once the Database is set up successfully, you shall get message to configure your email settings (select an option and then click Continue).
Configure your email settings by clicking “Sendmail” (for Unix/Linux installations). Enter your email and send a test mail. You shall have to specify the sendmail path (usually something like /usr/lib/sendmail for Unix/Linux installations – ask your hosting provider if you’re not sure).
Click on continue to create your administrator login account. Specify the username, screen name, email address, password and password recovery keyword or phrase.
Next, you shall need to specify your blog name. It can be www.yourdomainname.com/blog-name. Set the publishing path as well as per the directories located on your server. It will then initialize the database.
Once the installation is successful, you shall get a bulleted list of successfully completed task.
All you need to do is to sign in which shall take you to the admin area. If at the later stage, you need to login into the admin area, all you need to do is to type www.yourdomainname.com/mt.cgi. Now the playfield is all yours, browse around and change the settings. Now you can customize it as per your website. You can also choose from the different templates provided with the installation.
Although the installation process is well-documented and does not pose much problems nevertheless, every hosting service is different. For example, if you are hosting with GoDaddy, you shall have to note the database server name which is not named as ‘localhost’. You may have to specify it as “mysql” with some hosting services. Most of the people may get stuck at the Database configuration. It is wise to seek help of a geek friend or email your hosting service.
You may also face the file permission problems while using FTP software or Windows Browser. I uploaded all the files from Windows Browser but I had to actually login at the hosting admin panel to chmod them and set the file permissions.
Moreover, upgrading to MT4.0 might give you some problems, especially if you are not a techno-geek. Try a fresh install, if you can.
The Real Movable Type
Moreover, as compared to its earlier version Movable Type 4.01 is more action oriented. You can create, design and manage your blog in better fashion. It is more content-centric and the dashboard offers you ready links like “Most Recent Comments” or may be “You have 6 drafts”. Now isn’t that really cool! You can finish off pending tasks quite easily without searching for them or keep them pending forever.
You can also expect all the important information on the right-hand side with all the important links. MT 4.01 makes navigation quite simple. It also allows multiple blogs to be listed on single site. Administrator can set up multiple blogs with one interface. Most of the other PHP applications allow only one or two or a couple of blogs to be listed. MT does away with that limitation. All you need to know is to access the file systems on the server to actually install these blogs and call their proper labels and archives.
The basic advantage of MT over WordPress is that it comes with ready plug-ins that you need to install additionally in WordPress. Plug-ins for MT 4.0 are simples and the MT community keeps on pouring new plug-ins everyday.
ExpressionEngine is competing blogging software but comes with a price. It is capable of technically driving multiple sites under multiple domains. Moreover, it also offers online 24/7 technical support.
Another popular competition is WordPress blogging platform.
Movable Type does not essentially need any particular operational maintenance on the server. You can tighten the security by isolating the CGI scripts in the dedicated directory. You can also enhance its performance by running it under FastCGI.
Movable Type is fairly simple and easy to install software that does not require you to be a black belt in programming (althought it can be more complicated to install comparing with WordPress blogging solution). All you need to do is to upload the files in the relevant directories and follow the set up procedure. Most of the users face problems while installing or rather configuring the database. (Well, you can’t really blame the novices!) Ask you hosting service for proper database names and paths. I also messaged them to give me the location of cgi-bin directory. They showed Perl, PHP Script SQL database – Enabled under my Manage Hosting panel but I could not see the directory under file manage. (I had to upload the file on my server in a new folder as “myblog” and it worked fine. Amazin!!!
MT community is pretty active while pouring in new plug-ins and you are free to customize your blog the way you want.
All the Best!!!
Mircea Goia was born in Romania and immigrated to US in 2005.
He lives in Phoenix, AZ and works as web developer. Aside, he works also on several entrepreneurial Web projects.
He shows a keen interest in commercial Web development such as social networks, viral marketing and online video.
His artistic hobby is filmmaking with special interest in directing.