Thank You, Movable Type
Just a thought from 1 April 2004 about Geek.
I remember when the web wasn't powered by Movable Type. Those were quaint, sepiatoned days, when we had to walk to the web server in the snow, uphill both ways. Ah, the good ol' days.
No, fuck that. Those were the bad old days. Movable Type has taken over my web work, and I, for one, welcome our new Trott overlords.
As a freelancer in the web before Movable Type, I got paid to make sites for clients. And make, I would. And I'd send them off into the world with a shiny new site made of html and attitude. And they'd come sailing right back every time they wanted to change something.
Can you imagine? "We want to add a little text. Here's a Word file." "We want to make the blue a little less blue, you know?" "When I click here, it should do that thing, you know, with the stuff?"
They kept coming back like herpes. It was hell.
Nowadays I can set up Movable Type, create templates, teach the client the joys of the REBUILD SITE button, and send them off in total control of their site. Well, mostly in control, anyway.
And the best part is, Movable Type keeps getting better. With an active community of hackers and an open API, if you want MT to do something it doesn't do, chances are someone's already hacked it up to do just that.
Case in point: At the ol' dayjob, we added a news blog to cover the War on Iraq in October, 2002. We couldn't do this with our CMS, so I just installed MT and used it for the blog. It worked so well there, we added a bunch more blogs to the site over the next year.
Now we found ourselves with weblogs updating all over the site and no central place to see them all. Enter Stepan Riha, and his GlobalListings plugin, which let us create one centralized News Log Page which displays the last 10 posts made to the four main weblogs. Easy as pie.
I used Movable Type to solve another problem at work recently. In addition to AlterNet, I also work on our sister site, WireTap, where they wanted to create a hip little sub-site on the 2004 Election. I was able to whip it up in MT in days.
Sure, there's a weblog. But MT also made it easy to create a whole set of other content pages by adding new index templates and template modules. the best part is, I was able to set it up so that it would be easy to update any text on the site by the WireTap staff. For example, there's a template module called "About" that's just some about text. That about text is included in a bunch of pages on the site. If the editors want to change that text, all they have to do is edit the About template module and rebuild, and the new about text is all over the site in seconds.
To the geeks in the crowd, this is not rocket science, I know. But it sure does beat the previous way of doing things ("When you get a chance, could you change this to that on these pages?"). I set up the templates, and they do the rest.
In my off hours, I started a photo site in January using Movable Type, and it's set up so that all I have to do is upload an image and make a post and the rest is taken care of, thanks to MT and Brad Choate's marvelous MTEbmedImage. The plugin can whip up as many thumbnails as I want, in any shape. That's how I'm including a small, square version of the current Ephemera image here on the Powazek.com homepage.
The photos in Ephemera each have a small comment thread, using the built-in MT comment feature. But because the comment threads are spread out all over the site, it became difficult for me to monitor them all. (Yes, MT can be set to email all new comments to you, but I have inbox issues.) So all I had to do was create a new index template, throw in some of MT's own tags (no plugins needed), and I had a page that displays the last 20 comments, newest to oldest. How cool is that?
And, oh yeah, Movable Type is free for individuals and nonprofits.
So thanks, Movable Type. It's a better web with you in it.
This section is called Just a Thought. It's a blog where I post little pieces of what I'm thinking about at the moment. This page is an individual entry called “Thank You, Movable Type” that I wrote on 1 April 2004.
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Working the web since 1995, Derek Powazek is the creator of many award-winning websites, a couple of which still exist. Derek is the cofounder of JPG Magazine and the CCO of 8020 Publishing. Derek lives in San Francisco with his wife, two nutty Chihuahuas, a grumpy cat, and a house full of plants named Fred. More »
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