Blog Status

I’ve had a bit of a play, and I’m not convinced that Movable Type Open Source 4.1 is quite as stable as Six Apart want us to think it is.

Yesterday I was having trouble publishing pages. I was getting timeouts which were leading to 500 errors. I still haven’t been able to republish all of the old entries that I imported over the weekend.

I’ve had this problem before when upgrading MT and one cause seems to be incompatibilities between older page templates and newer versions of MT. I hadn’t made too many changes to the templates (since the last time I upgraded) so I reset all of the templates to the defaults and started again.

At that point it looked like I was able to publish pages without getting 500 errors. But the pages I was publishing were all missing the various bits of information that appear on the right-hand side of the page. A bit of digging revealed that this version of MT uses something called widget sets to determine what is in that part of the page and that my default set of templates had no widget sets defined. That was pretty easy to fix (although it still needs a bit of tweaking – the “About this page” widget, for example, looks broken when it appears on the main index page).

Also, and throughout all of this tweaking the blog continuously seemed to forget the minimalist white theme that I had applied and reset itself to the minimalist red version that seems to be the default. I’m sticking with that until I get far closer to the finished design.

So, at this point it looked like I could publish pages (albeit slowly) and that they had approximately the correct widgets on them. Before going to the hassle of republishing all 1,400 entries I thought I’d add my Google Analytics tracking code to the templates.

And at that point it starts going wrong again. I’ve started getting 500 errors again when I publish a page. Maybe it’s the Google Analytics code that’s doing it, but I can’t really see how a bit of Javascript can cause this problem.

So currently I have a blog that is has about 400 completely unpublished entries, about a thousand entries that are published but that have no Google Analytics code and are missing the page widgets and about twenty entries that look approximately as I want them (but in the wrong colour). And that’s before I start thinking about the category and archive pages.

Oh, and the search program seems to take over all of the CPU whenever it’s run, thereby bringing the system to its knees. And publishing any page (which includes adding a comment) will give a 500 error.

I’ve used Movable Type for a long time. I’ve always been a big fan. But why is upgrading it such a problem? I’ve spent so much time fixing the upgrade that I haven’t had time to write about anything other than the upgrades. That’s really not what this blog is supposed to about.

I’m sure the this new version looks great if you’re starting a blog from scratch. But for people upgrading a blog that has been going for a few years, it all looks like a bit of a pain.

Of course, with the new Open Source version of MT, it’s finally fine for me to go in and fix these problems myself. But I’m not really interested in writing blog software. Blog software should be a tool that I can just use. When maintaining a tool take more time than using the tool then you have to wonder if you’re using the right tool.

Maybe I’ll have another look at WordPress. Or Blogger.

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