January 25, 2007

New Digs

Last night I finally hunkered down and ported this blog from blogger to Movable Type. Nothing exciting design-wise, just a more functional (I hope) layout with some long overdue new features (categories, search, custom feeds, tags, etc).

I've only tested on Safari and Firefox, so if there's any wonkiness in Internet Explorer (or just in general) let me know. There is still quite a bit of fine tuning to be done and a few features I want to add. I also need to get busy tagging/categorizing old entries.

Jenn hates the new design (or lack of design) by the way ("is it finished?" she asks).... Ultimately I don't think the design matters much as the vast majority of you read this site via RSS.

If you're curious as to the process, this is how I made the move.

1. I installed a local copy of MT on my Mac. These instructions are a bit outdated, but they will get you in the ballpark.
2. I also installed fastcgi locally for much speedier rebuilds. I used these instructions to get fast cgiinstalled and these ones to get movable type running on fastcgi.
3. All the CSS was coded live in CSSEdit which is arguably the worlds best css editor. The live preview function saved me countless hours. All that remains in CSSEdit is a visual editor. Perhaps in 3.0. (I threw out the default MT templates btw which seemed over convoluted for a simple blog and just started from scratch).
4. Many people encouraged me to install FastSearch which I did. I also installed an apple style search box.
5. Archive columns in the sidebars come via Columnize.
6. Zebrastriped comments were accomplished with roundrobin.
7. Once I got the design tweaked, I need to import my entries. I referred to my own exporting from blogger to wordpress to mt guide to get all the entries out of blogger. The resulting text file was in good shape save for a few repeating garbage characters which I removed using good old search and replace in bbedit.
8. My big worry with the switch was preventing comment spam to which mt is vulnerable. I'm trying out a combination of a keystrokes plugin, a spam firewall, and a few homegrown techniques... we'll see if they work...
9. So at this point, the blog was working, my data was in, and I just powered through categorizing almost 500 of almost 900 entries in the batch edit screen. If anyone knows a way to batch edit tags, please let me know, because I haven't found anything yet.
10. Moved everything to my online server, published it and everything went fairly well. The only issue I see is that some entries with long titles have been truncated differently by blogger/mt so that google still points to the old pages... I like having the few extra characters in the titles so I'll let that one be. Mainly it all seemed to work. Old links less than 35 characters should not break.

My server has been having mysql issues and when this happens, the search fails.... If this problem isn't solved very soon I'm switching from Verio which has been nothing but headaches since the hurricanes in 2005 which affected their server farm to Media Temple about which I hear nothing but great things (and a few dollars cheaper to boot).

Again if there are any display issues just email me at myfirstname.mylastname@gmail.com where myfirstname is my first name, my last name my last...

posted at 05:37 AM by raul

Filed under: interweb

TAGS: blogger (2) movable type (2) mt (2) plugins (1) upgrade (1)


01/26/07 06:19 AM

Ultimately I don't think the design matters much as the vast majority of you read this site via RSS.

Ouch! This may be true, but as a web designer I must still protest. Perhaps I should start designing CSS-customizable RSS readers...

01/26/07 09:20 AM

Elegant new design. Very nice.
(And in case you don't know, your link to Media Temple is down.)

01/26/07 09:57 AM

i really like the new design... clean and thoughtful. I especially like that you sort monthly archives chronologically (most blogs show the latest entry first which is maddening) which allows one to read them in order like a book. being a feed reader myself my one small suggestion would be to include the entire post in the feed (I've noticed that posts with extended content like this one do not fully display in the feed).

As a longtime lurker I am once again impressed with the broadness of your skills. Your writing and photography skills are humbling, and now I discover you are a grade a designer and geek. What are you bad at?

01/27/07 03:31 PM

Love your new design!

01/31/07 08:49 PM

just testing the new comment system

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