In Transition

I've finally given up on Movable Type. It's done well for me over the years but I was starting to see its limitations with page builds starting to give errors and taking longer and longer to build a new page.

With that, i've moved to a custom-built CakePHP backend. It's nothing fancy at the moment, as I really just wanted to duplicate what I had before but now that its in place, it should give me much more flexibility to do what I want with this site. Luckily, I was able to retain my entire URL structure, so there should be no 404s as a result of the transition (although, if you run into any, be sure to let me know).

A nice bonus is that I've built theming into the system to more readily allow me to roll out new designs but also to allow you, the user, to select a theme that you prefer. At the bottom of the sidebar, you can select to switch between version 5 (previously called version 4 but that's a bit of a story) and version 6. Some day, you may even see a version 7.

There are still some rough edges. I didn't put the Gravatars back in but I think I will. Some of the styles in the old version also need to be cleaned up. In any case, I'll get around to that eventually. Hopefully nothing major is broken!

Published September 14, 2006
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Jonathan Snook said on September 14, 2006

Well, like any custom application, turns out I had a few things missed. I'd forgotten to get the RSS feed in (now fixed). And I had a bug in pulling up the latest articles. It was only pulling in ones that had comments, which obviously, new articles wouldn't have! I've also realized I missed the search box. Granted, few people use it.

So, still some work to do...

Michael Odden said on September 14, 2006

Behold of my wisdom.

A few questions and comments (none directly related to the transition though)

I was just about to write about the missing arrow to pull the commentbox back into the middle / right column, but did just in time discover it :) I believe it may be a bit too anonymous when the lightbulb is on.

And another suggestion: When the commentbox is pushed in at the bottom in the maincontent-col. And the rightmost column is hidden - is there actually any need for the container-col of the commentbox?

I took a look in my scriptconsole - and found a minor issue. On line 242 (v6.js) you try to get the element with the ID "postmetadata", wich doesn't seem to exist in your blogposts. Maybe do a check for null before doing the getElementsByTagName?

I do believe this i my first post here, and would like to say I like your work and hope you will keep it up :)

Fredrik Wärnsberg said on September 15, 2006

I'm seriously liking the v7 screenshot. Feels more like your style (compared to the old site) than this design do. Great job!

Nate K said on September 15, 2006

Im not sure of my feelings of version 7, ill have to look at it in more detail later. I like your look/feel you have now, but I also know its nice to have a change.

I think you made a GREAT move by switching to a framework. You will have so much more freedom and flexibility, and CAKE is one of the best out there (in my opinion - and I have tried several others in testing).

I too, am moving my blog to a new design and custom backend - getting rid of wordpress. It will make the code much more lightweight and portable for my needs. BUT, I am a PHP geek at heart - so its a fun task.

So far no bugs on my end.

Did you map your previous URLS with a router, or did you use some .htaccess as well? Just curious.

Kenny Saunders said on September 15, 2006

Version 7 is looking good, is this in the works for the upcoming CSS Reboot?

Jonathan Snook said on September 15, 2006

Michael: thanks for mentioning it. I'll definitely have to look to fix that today.

Nate: I was able to map all the posts via Routes, which was nice. I have two types of URLs that had to be mapped. The original MT naming convention was /archives/000531.html (which I later redirected to .php files) and then in the reboot, I had /archives/category_name/post_name/. In the Posts controller, I simply check if the id is numeric, and if so, redirect to the named location. The named location simply pulls by page stub. Every post I have since I launched should still be accessible (I'm a fan of permanent permalinks).

Kenny: I was aiming for October on the design so I may ultimately decide to wait until the reboot. We'll have to see. As much as I liked the 'look' of this design (v6), it has proven limiting in demonstrating code examples and lengthier content. Short articles on the other hand, appeared lost in a sea of black and green. The new design was meant to refocus on the content and lose some of the gimmicks.

Matt Eunson said on September 15, 2006

I like the v7 screenshot alot, it definately looks more content focussed, and also fits in more nicely with your main site

Johan said on September 16, 2006

Would you be intrested in positing your CMS for further dissection? I believe you once had planned to release a CMS?

Matt Robin said on September 18, 2006

Well, I can't see any difference - so that's excellent Jonathan...well done!
Your blog is the only one I know that's using CakePHP at the moment - so I'm curious to see how you will get along with it.
Many users seem happy with MT for their CMS - so it is intriguing that you've decided to ditch it. I'm with Textpattern for my own site - but I'm toying with the idea of a different CMS at some point in the future, so knowing what else I could use is invaluable.

I really like the look of your (potential) v7 preview - but it would be a shame to see this version go as I'm really starting to get used to it.
I'm sure you'll probably keep it as one of the style to switch to (maybe?)

Jonathan Snook said on September 18, 2006

Matt: MT has been decent for most of the time. I felt many jumped off the MT bandwagon over to WordPress way too quickly. The Spam filtering in the current version of MT, for example, is simply superb. I just found myself either having to use a plugin, or hacking up the Perl source to accomplish the things I wanted. Now, with CakePHP as my platforum, I have the flexibility to extend it quickly and easily.

Part of the reason for the switch to CakePHP was to have the theming capabilities. That way, when a new version did roll out, people can choose the look and feel that they prefer. On the flip side, I think people complain about new designs way too quickly. They don't let them settle in.

Johan: I did plan to release a CMS but the blog engine behind this isn't it. Once I get something a little more polished put together, I'll probably release the blog engine for the masses.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post. If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to send them to me directly.