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Blogging with Movable Type

Oct 15, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Six Apart Movable Type

While you might associate Weblogs (otherwise called “blogs”) with self-indulgent people having far too much time on their hands, blogs can actually be the foundation for a really effective news publishing platform for internal or external Web sites.

I’ve just been experimenting with Movable Type from Six Apart (see links below and yes, that is the way the company spells “Movable”). Movable Type is an open source blog written in Perl so it can run on most systems. I’m using it to provide my son’s school with both a public and an intranet publishing platform that doesn’t require much expertise.

And I’m impressed. This is quite a piece of engineering.

Movable Type is relatively easy to install but there are a few gotchas. For example, it isn’t obvious that the HTTP location asked for in the configuration should be the Movable Type directory rather than the root of the server.

But those minor problems aside, there’s only one real headache: Changing the layout of the templates that Movable Type uses to generate HTML content. These templates are stored in a binary format and you need to use the option to link the templates to a text file to get painless access to the code. Even then, the custom tags used require a fair bit of expertise.

Movable Type has a huge list of features including support for:

* Multiple Weblogs and reader comments on blog entries.

* The ability to categorize posts for archiving or display. A single entry can be in multiple categories.

* The inclusion of as many authors as you wish with individual permissions for posting and access.

* TrackBack protocol that allows peer-to-peer communication and conversations between Weblogs.

* A public search engine.

* Global search and replace on all of entries.

* Importing your entries and comments from other content management systems.

* Monthly, weekly, and daily archiving.

* Multiple output templates for XML or RSS feeds, XHTML indexes, or custom data formats.

* The ability for files and images to be uploaded into any of your blog directories and integrate with new posts.

* Support for Bookmarklets (Web browser bookmarks or favorites that consist of embedded JavaScript) to post to your site from any JavaScript-enabled Web browser (see the features page for a longer, more detailed list).

While Movable Type doesn’t require a backend database (it comes with Berkeley DB) it can also use MySQL or PostgreSQL if you want to improve performance.

Movable Type also supports localization. If you don’t want to install the system yourself Six Apart can do it for a charge. And if that’s still more responsibility than you want then you might prefer to use Six Apart’s hosted version of Movable Type, TypePad.

Movable Text is free for non-commercial use and $150 per qualified commercial site (see the Commercial Download and License page for details).

As I said above, I’m very impressed with Movable Type and it looks like it might be the perfect solution for my son’s school Web site and intranet. If you have any other suggestions for content management or blogging, let me know.


Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

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