August 5, 2006

Upgrading Movable Type from 3.2 to 3.3

I periodically check to see if movable type has updated their blog software. Today I checked and noticed they had version 3.3. out. Cool, upgrading should be a snap, right? I had to sign in to TypePad to download the latest software. I downloaded the tarball, and uploaded to to my server. Unpacking revealed no readme file. Version 3.2 had a README.txt, though it just pointed you to their website. I like the idea of having the latest installation instructions, but a simple text file with quick and dirty "./configure, make, make test, make install" type of instructions (ahh, the good old days) should still be included.

I poked around on their site and found Awfully wordy and geared towards first time install, though there is a section about upgrading. My biggest gripe about open source software for linux is the upgrade process. You always end up running around, copying, moving chmod'ing, logging into your database and executing scripts, etc... I'm afraid Windows has a great thing going with setup.exe. Even a simple perl script with some simple text prompts would be nice. How about just uploading the new tarball, logging into the web admin, and it unpacks itself, makes backups for rollback and so on? I'll give Movable Type credit for the database part, which is done automatically for you via the admin console. This was nice. I could use that when upgrading HORDE applications like IMP (webmail). What a pain upgrades are for horde apps.

Anyway, here are the quick and dirty instructions to get you upgraded on linux/unix in a hurry:

Unpack tarball, backup existing executables
gunzip MT3.3.tar.gz
tar -xvf MT3.3.tar
mv /web/mt /web/
mv /home/brian/MT3.3 /web/mt
cp mt/
cd mt
chmod 755 *.cgi

Backup Database
I have to admit, I skipped this step, but I already had a relevant backup. I use mysql so the quickest way is to just tar up your /var/lib/mysql/[blogdbname] folder.

Copy Static files
Ok you are almost done, and the admin may almost appear to work, but you will get some javascript errors and other problems. You need to overlay the contents of mt-static to your actual webroot. It's best to just dump the new mt-static contents over your existing webroot to preserve any plugins or other customizations you may have that are not in the database. Some of the plugin directory names were the same, so I just renamed the originals and moved over the new ones in their place. Once you move all the style sheets, javascript files, images and such, everything should be fine.

Log in to the Blog Admin
Log in to the admin and you will see an Upgrade button. Click it and the database is updated. Rebuild the site files and you are done.

August 26, 2005

Dude, where's my Calendar?

OK, so I am a little happier with the latest style I applied, but most of the screenshots of the movable type style library show the calendar that you come to expect on blogs. I've scoured the plugins directory and the system settings in the software and no calendar options. Somehow I found a support page mentioning the calendar for 3.2. Turns out, the calendar slowed down page rebuilding. Solution to performance bottleneck--you guessed it--remove it from 3.2 templates. They give you the code to add it back in on your templates, but at this point I think I'll only break something. A task I will attempt on another day.

It seems like it would have been pretty easy to just zip up a prebuilt folder and a configure script like most other linux installs. ./configure, make, make test, make install, done. Of course, that would mean they would have to have a true INSTALL document in the zip and not just an html page (which I had to relocate to a web browse-able location to read to find out the URL of their online documentation). These days you only actually open the installation documentation when you get a problem with the configure or make commands.

Still, not bad for legitimately free software.

Looking for Styles

The default style that comes with Movable Type blows in my opinion. I set off to look for pre-confogured styles to plug in and stumbled across stylecatcher for MT 3.2. No readme in the tarball, but I at least got the cgi files up and running, always remembering to chmod 755, of course. Once you address the cgi manually in the toolbar (am I missing some clue? I think I guessed you had to go to the mt.cgi to start--there has to be an easier way) it then gives you the instructions about where to put the static files and such. Somewhat reminiscent of the initial install of the software.

Once stylecatcher was configured, I somehow wound up with a listing of styles from the sixapart style site and a menu to select the one I wanted. There was a pull down to select the blog to apply to, but the submit button was somehow missing/hidden. I tabbed out of the select menu and hit return hoping something would happen. Sure enough, a message came back saying styles were applied. Pretty easy.

Installing/Configuring Movable Type

After poking around on the web for free blog software, I finally decided to go with movable type. Seemed like mature software with plenty of features and decent UI. Installation was a little convoluted as the jump links in the documentation on their site jumps around with somewhat incorrect anchors. It seems a little strange that all the documentation and even help links from the installed apps link to their site. Nevertheless, installation was much simpler than installing Horde, IMP, or coldfusion 5 on redhat 9. I didn't have to install any additional software. Perl and mysql already installed here and the apache config changes were straightforward.

It turns out Movable Type 3.2 was just released yesterday, and it seems many existing templates/styles are no longer compatible, hopefully because of super cool new features. I don't know how much time I will find to tinker with the css myself--I'd rather just get a decent custom one and make mods to it. Do I really need or have time to learn another proprietary tagging convention? The front end UI is kind of simple--I'd like to do the calendar thing and make the trackback come after the comments. What the hell is trackback anyway? I'll google it later...

I've turned my back on blogs for some time--I've been creating web pages for 10 years, so what is all the fuss? This will also be my first public site, so that is a little bit of a change. Anyway, at this point, this is just an experiment.

First Post

Just Installed MovableType. A little cumbersome, but not too bad as far as installs go.