Professional Blogging

Professional Blog Software Reviews – Movable Type

In this review of the series I am looking at Movable Type. After the so-so performance of CityDesk just on reputation alone I am hoping for great things from this product.

Movable Type has been around the block. Believe it or not the first version was launched only in 2001, for some reason it seems way older. Four years though in blogging is a long time so you can consider Movable Type very mature and very stable (latest version is 3.2). You can keep up to date with releases via RSS.

Technical requirements

To install Movable Type you will need Perl (plus optionally PHP), and capability for BerkeleyDB, MySQL, SQLite, or PostgreSQL databases.

Ease of installation

Downloading Movable Type from the website is the easy bit. To actually install the beast if you haven’t already got the required software you will need a little experience of setting up and configuring Perl, Perl modules, MySQL and PHP. I didn’t have these things locally so my setup challenge might be a little harder than many of you.

I would not say it was easy but I managed to get there in the end partly by following the Windows specific instructions (which seems a little out of date). An experienced friend might be a worthwhile resource to have on hand for the timid.

Ease of use

Once you are up and running the initial interface can seem very daunting but once you have familiarised yourself with the options it is all very logical and compartmentalised. It is a very comprehensive system so the masses of options is only to be expected.

Having to rebuild your blog every so often is a little tiresom but once you are happy with it only the individual posts need be created and you can fall back on a dynamic site rather than producing HTML files.

Flexibility of posting formatting

There is a set of formatting buttons for bold, italic, etc but these simply help you add the relevant HTML tags – you have freedom to use whatever HTML formatting you choose.

User registration for comments

You can specify that comments must be by authenticated users and use the TypeKey service or use another third party solution. There are also moderation options or you can have comments appear right away. There are also pretty decent spam protection facilities built in and available as plugins.

Syndicate RSS/ATOM feeds

By default your feed is output as ATOM and RSS 2.0, I would have suprised had you not been able to in a system four years old!

Search

Search is there by default and other more comprehensive solutions are available.

Ping, Trackback and Pingback

Just tick a few tickboxes in settings and you can accept trackbacks, auto-discover trackbacks, and ping the popular services and add any of your own.

Categories and Tags

You can manage categories, add categories when creating a new post and have a post appear under multiple categories.

Permanent URLs and Friendly URLs

Posts appear as static HTML pages and are organised in year/month folders. You can set the filename of the page for your post at creation time and optionally output PHP files.

Overall Search Engine Friendliness

The default HTML and structure seems nicely formatted with DIVs and CSS and there is complete flexibility for further tweaking.

Template flexibility

Templates are well structured and there seems to be a fair few template tutorials out there. The best thing is the plugin that allows you to browse template styles and apply them to your blog. I chose the rubber ducky one, I think it looks pretty cool. Hum..

 

 

Extensibility

There are a whole bunch of plugins available to download and for programmers Movable Type allows you to edit the PERL source, use PHP for your output instead of HTML, plus you have a MySQL database of content to work with.

Ability to paste advertising code

No limitations here plus there are one or two plugins to make it easy, Chikita for example.

Multiple Authors and Multiple Blogs

There is good central control of authors and blogs, there is no reason why you couldn’t use this as the beginnings of a blog network.

Developer support, ISP support and Community support

Movable Type is a mature system built on a very stable platform, there is no shortage of third party support for this product and no shortage of developers and designers willing to work with it. You can get hosting right from the partners page.

Technical support and documentation

There is everything you might need from knowledge base to forums. The product is so well known you will not need to look far for peer help. You will definately know a friend of a friend using MT.

Cost/License

There is a free unsupported personal (single author) version, a $69.95 5 author version and a $99.95 unlimited version.

API, Blog by email

Movable Type supports the Atom and Metaweblog APIs.

Static pages/Articles

While out of the box MT doesn’t support the creation of About pages and articles, there are workarounds basically involving creating custom templates.

Type of database

BerkeleyDB, MySQL, SQLite or PostgreSQL

Stats and reporting

While it is certainly possible to output your posts as PHP, by default posts are static HTML so you would need to use ISP logs or an external tool. There are plugins that patch this hole somewhat.

Summary

So only the second review in but Movable Type is definately in the lead. We have a benchmark for the others to beat and it will take quite a lot to displace it. The only thing letting Movable Type down is the installation process, but coming after a piece of Windows desktop software that is only to be expected. If you can’t install it yourself you will have no problems finding a provider or friend who can.

  1. Introduction
  2. CityDesk review
  3. Movable Type review
  4. WordPress review
  5. bBlog review
  6. DasBlog review
  7. CommunityServer review
  8. Drupal review

Author: Chris Garrett

Chris Garrett is a content marketing and blogging coach and co-author of the Problogger Book with Darren Rowse.

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