Movable Type to WordPress, Part 1

A week or so ago, I said I’d describe my blog’s changeover to a new host and, more significantly, to a new blogging engine. Although I can’t say the every detail of the changeover is complete, it does seem substantially finished, so I thought I’d start the description today. Don’t know how many posts this will take, but it’s a safe bet that this won’t be the last. As I add more posts to this series, I’ll put links to them at the bottom.

I suppose I should start with why I wanted to make the moves. The new host offers more disk space, more bandwidth, shell access, Subversion, and a few other goodies for the same price as the previous host. Need I say more? The switch from Movable Type to WordPress wasn’t quite so simple a decision. Here’s my thinking:

First, I really like writing my posts—as well as everything else—in TextMate and uploading them via TM’s blogging bundle. While the blogging bundle works with Movable Type, the interface with MT doesn’t allow you to set a post’s category. I like having categories.

Second, although MT can serve up dynamic pages, it’s really a static page server at heart. This is great if you don’t like fiddling with the layout of your blog and if your traffic is so high that dynamic pages put too much load on the server. As it happens, I fiddle a lot and waiting for MT’s page rebuilds was getting annoying. And the traffic here is so light, it could be handled by a Commodore 64.

Third, because it’s dynamic by default, WordPress can have these nice “Older Entries” and “Newer Entries” on its category archive pages. Apparently, the new Movable Type has something like this with a hybrid category/date archive, which isn’t as straightforward as “Older” and “Newer” and will lead to more pages to generate and longer rebuild times.

Fourth, I’m a little pissed at Movable Type. When I first thought of comparing it with WordPress, I figured the one big advantage of staying with MT was simplicity. I already had a design for MT, right? Wrong. Some history: Back when I put the blog on MT, it was at version 3.2 and had recently undergone a big change in the structure of its default templates. Users were encouraged to learn this new and improved structure—which was a labyrinth of <div>s within <div>s within <div>s—so their customized themes would survive future updates. I followed the advice and jiggered with the Kubrick theme until it looked more or less the way I wanted. Now, of course, MT is at version 4, and if I’m going to install MT on a new host, I’m certainly going to use the latest version. It turns out, though, that MT has changed its structure again, so all my careful, standard-compliant customizations are fucked. Not only does MT lose its advantage, it turns it into a disadvantage fueled by my resentment.

The biggest advantage I could find for Movable Type is that it’s written in Perl, a language I’m much more comfortable with than WordPress’s PHP. This was overwhelmed by the points in favor of WordPress.

The next post in this series will get into the nuts and bolts of exporting and importing over 300 posts.

The second post in the series is here.