It’s five days since I switched from Movable Type to WordPress, and my experiences are, to say the least, mixed.

  • Movable Type doesn’t export Norwegian – or presumably, any non-English – characters, it just leaves them as blanks. Pr??verommet becomes Pr verommet. Obviously, this means WordPress won’t import Norwegian characters. It would also mean that moving my database between Movable Type installations would lose Norwegian characters. I wish developers who want to sell to the world would start realising that most languages other than English use more characters than a-z. I think all the European languages do – except perhaps Italian and Spanish.
  • WordPress uses PHP. That’s great if you want lots of control: PHP is a language that you use with HTML (or XHTML) – it lets you get stuff out of a database and get the server do lots of clever stuff that HTML can’t do on its own. However, I never learnt PHP. It looks easy enough, but I have a lot of things I’d like to spend time on and I’m not willing to spend a lot of time learning PHP. For the user, the PHP thing means that the templates you edit are all in PHP – so to display the title of your blog, in your Movable Type templates you’ll write < $MTBlogName$>, in Blogger you’ll write < $BlogPageTitle$>, in Tinderbox you’ll write ^title^ and in WordPress you’ll write < ?php bloginfo('name'); ?>. Once you get used to all the question marks it’s sort of doable even without really knowing PHP, but the documentation does pretty much assume you know the lingo. For instance, you “pass parameters when calling the function to configure some of the options”, which means that instead of putting name inside those inverted commas in the brackets, you could have put description. Or maybe both.
  • It assumes your server has lots of cool stuff installed. Our server has lots of cool stuff, but not all the same cool stuff, so some things just don’t work. It’s not my personal server, so I have to wait for the administrator to work out whether it’d be cool to install stuff.
  • The default template marks almost everything up as lists, which default to having horrid bullets in front of them. I suppose that’d be OK if I just took the time to style it the way I like it. I’m struggling, though – for instance, I’ve taken away all the list tags from the information about each post that’s showed beneath a post, but it still seems to think its a list. Not really understanding the PHP, I don’t know whether there’s something there that causes this or what. So I gave up and I’m left with an ugly blog.
  • There really is a lot of documentation on WordPress, although some of it assumes you know PHP – for instance, the main documentation of the templates keeps repeating that this is or isn’t in the WordPress loop, and I haven’t the faintest idea what that means. However, the open sourcedness of it all ensures that there are lots of willing contributers of documentation, and even PHP is well-documented elsewhere – it’s obvious you could teach yourself PHP pretty easily simply from playing with WordPress and googling.
  • The installing was a breeze. Far, far simpler than Movable Type. You only have to ask your administrator for a MySQL password, type the password and username into a configuration file, upload it to your server and the rest is done in a friendly web interface. None of that changing permissions – until you want to upload files or change templates, after which you’ll have fun learning about your server. Neither Movable Type or WordPress is a good idea for a fresh blogger not interested in an intimate acquaintance with their server. Use Blogger instead – or another hosted service.
  • There are built-in spam management tools in WordPress that look good, and there are plugins, too. I’ve not got any spam yet, of course, because the spammers haven’t yet discovered my new URL for commenting. The spam is one of the main reasons I left Movable Type. There may have been simpler ways of solving that, but MT-blacklist just wasn’t enough.
  • I still haven’t figured out how to display Trackbacks, though they’re clearly part of WordPress functionality. I’ve also looked pretty hard for a plugin that will let me show the most recent Trackbacks and I can’t find one. I really liked displaying them prominently and that was easy to do in Movable Type, so I’m disappointed.

I’m going to keep trying WordPress for a while more, but my experiences this far are pretty mixed. Had I been a better programmer and familiar with PHP and able to write my own plugins I expect I’d have loved WordPress – apparently it’s easy to write plugins if you know the language. As a semi-geek I’m not convinced. Steve recommended Textpattern, but that’s proprietary, and I think if I go back to a proprietary system it’ll be Movable Type. Except for the spam. Ack.

27 thoughts on “problems switching from Movable Type to WordPress

  1. […] e you don’t. But, you likely need to be some sort of programmer. From the post on Jill/txt, it seems the complaint is that WP concepts are tied too tightly with programming concepts. T […]

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  3. […] ense spam attacks. If you’re wondering if you should do the same take a look at what Jill has written about the subject.
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  4. Alvaro

    Changing is painful and joyful. In this technical world it means a lot of extra work. I am far away from becoming a semi-geek and that means that I love and hate introducing new things in my blog design. Blogger is meant for me. I am considering WordPress since January when Jon Hoem moved to it. But just the thought of all this troubles you are finding while adapting to it, makes me wait for a better moment.
    By the way, Spanish uses “foreing” characters, too.

  5. Jill

    Oh, of course, the ?± and maybe others, yes?

    I’m even considering returning to Blogger, these days 🙂

  6. Gabriel

    The Norwegian problems can’t be by design – I exported Polish language text from MT (things like ciƒÖg?Ço?õƒá) and imported into WordPress with no problems.
    The bullet list thing: list-style-type: none; worked for me in CSS.

  7. Gabriel

    Sorry, me again – and for the category thing, it’s in the PHP in the main template:
    < ?php the_category(",") ?> will take away the bullets and put in a comma as a separator.

  8. Gabriel

    Whoops, of course something inside a php tag won’t display. That would be:
    the_category(",")

  9. Jill

    Oh wow! Thanks, Gabriel – uh, it doesn’t seem to QUITE work, but it’s definitely getting there 🙂

    For some reason what you posted in code tags doesn’t show up: it was < ?php the_category(“,”) ?>

  10. Jill

    Oh, cos it’s in php! Of course. Thanks!

  11. tormodh

    I find some of your findings (pun not intended) strange.

    makeshift trackback here -> more MT vs. WP

    tormodh.

  12. Jill

    Thanks Thormod. A lot of the PHP stuff is confusing because the documentation assumes you know the basics of it. Yes, it is mostly a question of findign the right tag, but for a newcomer, that’s not trivial. Your loop explanation helps – and I wonder why Movable Type wouldn’t export my ?¶s and ??s and ?•s? Hm. I guess you’re right about the lists, at least for the blogrolls and all – I do believe in marking content up to show what kind of information it is – my frustration mostly stems from the “meta” information under each post also being a list… Gabriel helped explain that, though. I have no idea why the trackbacks aren’t working. I’ve enabled everything I can think of. Will have to do some googling but I won’t have time for days. Sigh.

    — btw, I was going to leave this as a comment in your blog, but there’s an error so I can’t post?

  13. Gabriel

    you have a space between the “<” and the “?” – removing it should do the trick

  14. Jill

    Yay! It works! Thanks!

  15. tormodh

    No wonder I’ve gotten few comments lately 🙁 I’d done something ..curious.. with my mt-blacklist install.

    For the trackback and such: I guess you’ve been playing around with index.php. I suggest you restore it to it’s former glory and then go slowly about it.

    one tip (as Gabriel probably tried to say):
    avoid spaces between < and ?php.

  16. tormodh

    hmm.. I take too much time writing comments. I just had to look up something, do a bit of work, and fix my comment trouble at identity at the same time.

  17. Jill

    This’ll be why my Trackbacks aren’t working: go to http://huminf.uib.no/~jill/wp-trackback.php/ and there’s a fatal error. ”
    Fatal error: Cannot redeclare class streamreader in ./wp-includes/streams.php on line 26″ Which you know, is probably no big deal but BLAH. It’s really not much fun being ignorant. Even when you KNOW you’re knowledgeable about all sorts of other things.

  18. Helge

    You may replace the Norwegian characters with the name code for them, using the search-replace-function offered in Movable Type. Your database will hopefully be exportable after this simple operation…

  19. tormodh

    I am not sure I would agree with you. Have you gotten any email about getting trackbacks? if so, try backing up index.php and replacing it with a fresh copy. If not.. errr. I have no Idea at this point.

    Ask someone brighter.

  20. tormodh

    I am not sure but your trouble with exporting ?¶???•: Could it be because of different character sets? your server uses UTF-8, but MT uses iso-8859-1 by default.

    If you edit the following line in mt.cfg from:

    # PublishCharset Shift_JIS

    to:

    PublishCharset UTF-8

    and try and export again, you might meet with success.

    This is just a guess. 🙂

  21. Carthik

    Hi,
    Maybe I could help with the MT export-import problem, and some others if you like. Please mail me at the address I filled in above, and I will be glad to help. I re-wrote the importer for 1.2 and it would be a learning experience for me to see what’s causing you problems 🙂

  22. hanna

    Ohh, the new look is great!

  23. kevin

    Hi Jill! (Long time and all that…)
    Feel free to ask me questions re wordpress. i’ve had a secret (cause i just had time to set it up, tweak a little, rant for two days straight and then blam went my time schedule) wordpress-based blog up and running for a while now, and should be competent enough with php to assist if you’re still having problems with it! 🙂

  24. Jill

    Kevin Foust!? Cool! I might well take you up on that – though now I seem to have fixed everything, though too late, since without my admin password (which is cleverly saved on my out-of-service laptop and nowhere else) I can’t log in to set up new accounts…

    The only other problem was that my server doesn’t have mod_rewrite. That’s one I can’t fix until the administrator installs it…

    Hope all’s well!

  25. kevin

    Doesn’t this: http://huminf.uib.no/~jill/wp-login.php?action=lostpassword
    work for you?

    If not, since you have access to editing your index.php, you should also be able to read your wp-config.php in the same directory. Look for these lines near the top:

    define(‘DB_USER’, ‘your_username’); // Your MySQL username
    define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘your_password’); // …and password

    I have wp 1.0.2 still, though, hope this hasn’t changed.

    If you have access to a database administration interface like phpmyadmin on your server, you can login with these, browse to the table ‘wp_users’ and find your admin password there.

    Hope that you can get around all those ifs!

    And yes, all is well, father of two (girls) and all that!

  26. academia informatica

    Three rules for the spam game:

    1) you can not win.
    2) you can not draw.
    3) you can not leave the play.

    Greetings,

    Antonio, from Malaga (Spain)

  27. Blog Hoster

    Great info so glad i found this.

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