DonnaM » Blog Archive » A big change: From MT to WP

A big change: From MT to WP

I was given a wonderful, if slightly geeky, christmas gift this year – a year’s hosting with a new provider. Of course, a new host meant work – I had to move my website and weblog to the new host.

I was happy to rebuild my website from scratch as it needed it anyway, and chose to use wordpress as I knew it could do what I wanted to do. But when thinking about moving my blog, the decision was much harder.

I’ve been blogging since 2002, and have used movable type for the whole time, upgrading regularly and remaining up to date with how it works. I’ve also used it for other projects – the biggest one being the IA Summit website. So I had a level of commitment that meant that it was my natural choice.

In rebuilding my blog, I had only two requirements:

  • I didn’t want to break all my inward links
  • I didn’t really want to start my templates from scratch, because my time and brain-power are a bit short at the moment

That’s not too big an ask is it? With those two simple requirements, I decided to stick with movabletype, thinking the second criteria was a done deal and the first should be OK given I had upgraded many times without breaking links.

In a funny co-incidence, the morning of the grand rebuild I had an email from the MT folks saying there was a new version. Cool – I wouldn’t have to upgrade within a few days.

So I downloaded the install files and uploaded them to my host. Time-consuming, but relatively easy.

Then things started to go pear-shaped…

I’ve installed wordpress a few times in the last few years and think the ’5-minute install’ is a pretty grand thing. I knew MT had a few more steps and wasn’t worried about it taking a bit longer. I followed the install wizard, which I thought odd given I’d always just updated the config file. Wizards should be less geeky than their direct-edit counterparts but this one so wasn’t:

  • I spent 20 minutes trying to figure out two different types of file paths. I wish I had a screen shot of the interface or error messages, but believe me that this was one of the worst interfaces I’ve ever come across and the silly process of trial and error pushed me to the edge of my tolerance. And there was no help text.
  • For email notifications I had to choose between SMTP or formmail (with no explanation beyond that) and fill in a bunch of fields. What-the!

But I took a deep breath, calmed down (something very hard for me) and continued. I finally got it installed (after an hour of working through the ‘wizard’).

Given my number one criteria was not to break links, and given I had been using MT since 2002 (with urls like 000123.html) my first job was to change the URL path to numeric (I know these don’t make great URLs, but really didn’t want to redirect). I dug around the interface for ages looking for the piece that let me customise the URL. I couldn’t find it. So I went to the official help and the support site. I couldn’t find it. After another hour of digging around, the camel’s back broke. I’d completely had enough.

From a simple, useful, usable blogging tool in 2002 MT had become a bloated, useless, unusable tool in 2008. I could no longer use it.

I deleted the MT files from my server (another hour) and changed to WordPress. In 15 minutes I had installed, configured and imported my content. I resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to build a redirect file, which ended up taking much less time than the stuffing around with MT.

I won’t be going back to MT any time soon. Perhaps never. The ridiculous amount of complexity and lack of flexibility just proved too hard. They’ve completely lost me. I’m now a wordpress girl through and through. And happy being so.

10 Responses to “A big change: From MT to WP”

  1. Ian Fenn Says:

    What a bummer. I would have been happy to help you out with MT. I agree with you though – the user interface for MT 4 was a huge step back.

  2. Donna Maurer Says:

    Thanks Ian. But I shouldn’t have needed help. After 6 years of using a product, I shouldn’t end up in a position where I don’t know what to do and can’t find the answers ;)

    Is it actually possible to change the structure of the URL?

  3. Adam Says:

    Yes – you can do it on the template editing screen for the template the URL structure applies to.

    It actually gives more flexibility than there was before, but the change hasn’t been well documented.

  4. Donna Maurer Says:

    Thanks Adam – it is good to know it is possible and there is that flexibility. I thought I looked everywhere but didn’t think about looking on the template editing screen ;)

  5. Adam Says:

    I think it’s safe to say that nobody expected to find it thereā€¦ :-)

  6. Lloyd Budd Says:

    Welcome to WordPress!

  7. Wp Wordpress » Blog Archive » MaadMob Dumps MT for WordPress Says:

    [...] Amazing information architect and interaction designer, Donna Maurer, dumped Movable Type after 5 year relationship for WordPress. [...]

  8. Darcy McGee Says:

    I just don’t buy this, based on one person’s experience (even if I respect that person, as I do in this case.)

    > From a simple, useful, usable blogging tool in 2002 MT had become a bloated,
    > useless, unusable tool in 2008. I could no longer use it.

    I started with MT2.6 and have moved through 3.1, 3.3, 4.0 and 4.1 seamlessly. Every upgrade has been error free and easy to manage, including the move to 4.0.

    I recoded templates in 4.0 because I prefer the new tag syntax to the old, but I didn’t have to do any of it: everything worked.

    Yes the tool is bigger, but it still works. The conclusions you’ve draw from one bad experience are too generalized: like arguing that all cars are crap and unusable based on the occasional lemon.

  9. Donna Maurer Says:

    Thanks Darcy. I’m glad your experience was better than mine.

  10. Sam Says:

    I am moving our platform from one built in-house to WordPress…I am so excited!!!

Leave a Reply