MT, We Need to Talk – I’m Leaving You for WordPress

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Movable Type Under Attack

Originally uploaded by sogrady.

As regular readers of the RedMonk IT Report are aware, we’ve been a Movable Type shop almost since day 1. I say almost because our blog used to be published by a very basic ASP based content management system, back in those halcyon days when I hand rolled our RSS feed (you read that right – I used to escape out all the punctuation – by hand). Put differently, we’ve been on Movable Type for several years now and for the most part have been happy customers. The commercial support, in particular, has been useful more often than not, and has more than justified the investment.

But all the while, I’ve been surreptitiously coveting the Firefox-like volume of plugins and themes that WordPress boasts, and thinking, “Well, if I had that plugin I could do X,” or, “Wow that’s a cool theme.” It’s not that MT doesn’t have a plugin architecture – it does, and we use several (including one plugin ported from WordPress, Akismet). Nor that it doesn’t have nice available themes – this, which I recently discovered – has some very attractive styles to pick from.

It’s just that the evidence at hand tells me that WordPress has done a better job than MT of fostering a vibrant and sizable community. I’ll leave the discussion for why that might be until later, but it’s self-evident to me.

That alone hasn’t proven to be quite enough to push us off MT, however, given the difficulty of migration. Or more specifically, one aspect of migration – the preservation of our existing URL structure. I have no intention whatsoever of jeopardizing the often impressive search rankings that our blogs have achieved through no real optimization efforts on our part, so with the migration from one platform to another (easy) comes the need to repoint the several thousand posts we’ve generated to date (less easy).

Seeing what Alex is building with his revamp of alexking.org, however, made me think it’d all be worth it. But it was watching MT lumber through another sustained spam attack last night around midnight – with me ineffectually dropping random IP’s into a deny statement within our .htaccess file – that I finally broke down.

I’m tired of fighting MT; we’ll be cutting over to WordPress as soon as it can be arranged. Timeline is to be determined by how long it takes me to figure out an appropriate URI redirection strategy (how I wish I had a network offering to connect me to someone who’s done this before and wants to be paid for it). You can probably expect a lot of changes from the move, and I’ll try to keep you all posted well in advance.


  1. I very much like WordPress but I would probably consider Drupal if I were starting anew. While it is pretty easy for me to update version-to-version, I fitted WordPress into the style of the rest of my site, rather than the other way around. That’s fine because I don’t want to use a stock style, but it makes might site a tad more custom than perhaps it should be. Something like Drupal that can handle pretty much all of my sites needs might therefore have been a better choice way back when.

    WordPress has a new multi-user version out. That might be useful for a full Redmonk blog.


  2. Good luck! Although my business blog (hosted at ebizQ) is on MT, my other two blogs one on WP, and I like it a lot. I’m even considering making one entire site, pages plus blog, all in WP.

  3. I started with blogger, but Om convinced me self-host with WordPress and I haven’t regretted it once. The plugin library and theme catalogue is very nice to have. Think of a function and it likely exists.

    As for the suggestion to check out Drupal. Did that at IDG. It was not a good thing. But as Bob said, in the context of an overall site CMS, it will get the job done.

    The latest MU is probably ready for primetime. It is the basis of wordpress.com’s service.

  4. Hi Stephen.

    I feel your pain. I went through a MT -> WordPress conversion a few months ago and wrote up my experiences here:

    As long as you have mod_rewrite, preserving your urls is actually relatively painless. (I had far fewer posts, around 300, but the number of posts shouldn’t matter.) Take a look at my post and feel free to ping me if you have any questions.

  5. Bob: while i appreciate the functionality provided by tools like Drupal, Mambo or TextPattern, they’re a littl overdesigned for what we need. i’m also quite impressed at what some of the templates can do to a WordPress installation.

    Sam: thx much – i’ve already passed that along to one interested party 😉

    Sandy: yeah, i’m using WordPress for a personal project and quite like it.

    David: i’m increasingly hearing that MU is ready for prime time, and that’s been the biggest holdup for us given our need for multiple blogs. it’s either that or go the multi-installation route.

    Dan: thx much for the tip – i may indeed go that route. i’m trying to decide between a couple of different redirection approaches, and mod_rewrite is certainly one of them.

  6. lets not forget your bias to using OSS products either Stephen, which is surely a factor in the decision. I am more than happy to go with WordPress, mostly because i don’t think i have ever heard anyone complain about it. its a very low complaint community, which is a clear indicator of quality.

    as you know there are some things about MT that have driven my nuts.

  7. My biggest complaint with WordPress is it’s very tied to MySQL – no data abstraction layer for other DBs – looking at the code I found it’s not simple and in interacting with the developers I found they are not very open to changing that…

  8. james: actually, if i have a bias towards anything it’s community. the reason i selected Movable Type over WordPress originally was because it had the better community at the time (IMO). but since, WP has exploded, MT has gone enterprisey, changing my view. and, ultimately, our product.

    Mike: fortunately, that’s not a concern for us as we’re a MySQL shop but i can see why folks might object.

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