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MT3.3

Posted on Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

Dave!Well that was frustrating.

Movable Type's blogging software just gets more inexplicable with every new release. Their latest, version 3.3, is no different. I specifically waited until it was out of beta before installing it, because I wanted to be sure that they had time to work the bugs out and finish up the documentation. Well, as it turns out, I shouldn't have bothered.

If you are a Movable Type user, or are interested in the software which runs this blog, then I've detailed my upgrade "experience" in an extended entry. Everybody else may want to come back later when I'll be bitching about something else...

The first thing I needed to do was download the new version of the software. For some unknown reason, you are forced to login to your TypeKey account (which I loathe) to download, but whatever. So I go through the process of trying to remember my TypeKey ID and password and all that, then drill my way to the download center, where I am presented with this...

Movable Type Download

Lovely. We're already off to a great start here, because I have no flipping clue which of the two "Movable Type 3.31" downloads I am supposed to get. Since the second one has an "upgrade key" and I am going to upgrade, I pick that one (I still have no idea what the difference is between them OR what I am supposed to do with my freakin' "Upgrade Key").

From previous Movable Type upgrades, I had a general idea of what needed to be done. I remembered that my search templates needed to be restored and that my plug-ins needed to be checked for compatibility and re-installed. Everything else was a blur, so I decided to sit down and pour over the "Read Me" docs so I could get a handle on the process.

Except when I look in the installation package, there is no "Read Me" docs.

WTF?!? It has been customary to include a "Read Me" with software packages since the dawn of time. What in the heck am I supposed to do now? Off I go to the support site so I can read the online docs... only to find out they don't seem to exist either. Oh no. Apparently the only way to get docs now is to download a freakin' PDF document. Shit. So I grab the "Installation Guide" PDF and do a search for "upgrade." Turns out the entirety of the upgrade documentation is this...

MT Upgrade Docs

Okay, now I am REALLY confused. What is Movable Type ENTERPRISE?? Did they rename the product? Is that what I've downloaded? Did I make a mistake? I thought I selected the "Personal Edition" from the download menu? WHAT THE F#@% IS GOING ON?!? Yet another trip to the Movable Type Support site where I learn that there are TWO Mobvable Type products now. This was so much simpler when they just included the docs in a f#@%ing Read Me. Oh well, I decide to forge onward in the hopes that the installation instructions (or lack thereof) apply to both versions.

But where in the hell is the warning to save your search templates and plug-ins?? I also seem to remember that there is a dangerous file you are supposed to be deleting after the upgrade for security purposes... but they mention nothing about it. Great. I go ahead and double-back-up the things I think I remember are important, and just copy over everything else.

And then, while restoring my plug-ins, I notice that there are some new things there. One in particular, a "Google Search" plug-in, has me curious. Another trip to the Support Center so I can see what's up with that. I finally make my way to the "Included Plug-Ins" section and click on the "Google Search" link...

MT Missing Docs

Ah yes. Some things NEVER change. Movable Type STILL has crappy and incomplete documentation, and has no problems at all installing default plug-ins without telling you what they do. I add yet another item to my "Things to Research in the Support Forums" list.

I overwrote all the old files, so permissions should be inherited and everything should work fine. I login to my installation, click the "Upgrade" link, and am quickly informed that everything went okay. So far, so good. I test a few comments and poke around a bit...lucky me, everything seems to have went just fine. Things seem slower, but that could be my imagination. Then I get to my search results page...

Blogography Search

GAH!! First of all, this is NOT my search template. Second of all... readers can subscribe to search result web feeds?!? DOUBLE-GAH!! That sounds very processor-intensive to me. And since I've already been kicked off of two web hosting sites for MT's excess CPU usage, I absolutely don't want this on my blog. So I run to make sure I didn't overwrite my search templates...

MT FTP

Uhhh... nope. They're still there. I search the "Knowledgebase" for info on customizing the search templates, and all I get is an outdated reference to the "Default.tmpl" file that I've already got handled. Apparently they've changed the way search works and, of course, didn't bother to document it (I search for "search template" in the docs and get nothing relevant). An upgrade process that should have taken five minutes is already up to an hour. In desperation, I turn to the forums... only to find out that they aren't working. Every time I search for something, I get an error stating that "Search Flood Control" has been enabled, and get no results returned. I don't have the time to read the entire manual, so I check the MT ChangeLog only to find out that it only goes up to version 3.2.

Typical.

This sucks.

And so I end up doing what I always do when I get frustrated with Six Apart's incomplete, outdated, and totally shitty documentation... search over at Neil's World for a solution. Fortunately, Neil does indeed have an answer. Search templates are now editable in the "Templates" section of the admin interface, so I just copy the code over, click save, and I'm done. Simple. Thanks again, Neil!

And so then I move on to see if some of the more heinous bugs have been fixed in this new version, starting with the devastating "Export Entries" travesty that can bust all your links (which I've documented here). And the answer is? No. In fact, not only have they STILL not made provisions for the "basename" to be exported... but there doesn't seem to be an export for their new "Tags" field either! Lose your links, lose your tags. What else gets lost in the export? WHO KNOWS! Six Apart doesn't bother to tell you... the best they can do is (finally) add a warning that their export is "not comprehensive" and refers you to the manual for details. The manual, in turn, is even more vague. This is asinine and inexcusable. How f#@%ing difficult is it to export all the fields that constitute an entry?? It must not be TOO difficult, because even COMMENTS are saved! Do they honestly expect the average end-user to be messing around with database backups? Shouldn't there be a simple way within the system to backup your hard work just in case shit happens? Lame.

The whole rampant CPU overload abuse issue doesn't seem to be addressed. From what I can tell, all the custom feeds and new widgets crap only make a bad situation worse. Hopefully, by not using any of it, my situation won't get any worse (but searches seem noticeably slower, so who knows?). I guess we'll find out if I get another "goodbye" letter from my hosting company.

I have no idea what the thinking is here. Fundamental issues with the product (such as backup and documentation) are neglected so we can get widgets?!? It's utterly bizarre. Oh well. Priorities are obviously on making it easy to add bling to your blog, so I guess that's what we're stuck with. All I know is that 3.3 doesn't seem to do much for me (except make me once again regret that I haven't switched to WordPress).

Bah. Back to work...


Categories: Blogging 2006Click To It: Permalink
   

Comments

  1. Laurence says:

    This post scared me ! I thought of switching to “six apart”…
    Oh ! What I read on your “signet” toolbar ? “Anal”, “touch”, “mini”… These 3 words on the same line are very, very odd in my language. :-)

  2. marie b. says:

    As much as I love Movable Type, their documentation and almost non-existent (and still pretty damn snooty) “support” for free versions of MT leaves a lot to be desired.

  3. ssp says:

    I’ve been waiting for reports like this to decide whether it’s worth the hassle…

    My main question would be whether they improved comment handling? Most of the comments I get come from a rather small number of people. I’d like to have MT auto-approve comments for a small number of e-mail addresses to save me work and give instant gratification to the regulars… and that’s pretty much the only thing that’d make me go through the upgrade hell.

    But as you pointed out, MT don’t even seem to have a _readable_ list of things that the new version changes/improves, so I couldn’t find out :(

  4. Uhm, did you ever consider changing platforms? I mean, I know it SUCKS and that you have to completely re-do how everything works, but uhm, is it worth the stress to continue with this? I’m just sayin’ is all…I had to switch blog platforms in the past because my old stuff kept getting eaten by the newer versions of the software. DOUBLE frustrating.

    G’luck fissin’ it awwwwl.

  5. franky says:

    MT as in Movable type is out. MT as in Medtia Temple totally rocks. I have several of my projects hosted over there and they really are a high-performance player.

    Anyway back to MT as in Movable Type. I do know I am repeating other commenters, but don’t you think it is time for a swap?
    Links… yeah I got your point and actually I use the argument the internet is build on links since your post in discussions with other people.
    Looking at archives/2006/07/mt33.html I can’t imagine it would be that hard to reconstruct those links over mod_rewrite using WP. Yes not hard and mod_rewrite are not compatible, I know, but you are a smart chap ;-)
    And the WP irc channel will surely provide help there as well, I can hardly imagine Matt has never defined those rules before.

    Personally it looks to me as if the MT-team has already accepted their defeat and aren’t that interested anymore. Hence the missing documentation, starting with the download choices.

  6. margalit says:

    Just out of morbid curiosity, why do you upgrade? If everything is working in the earlier version, what’s the point of screwing everything up by upgrading?

  7. nicole says:

    I always always always hated how slow MT was and when I was making changes to my layout how it would have to update every file in the universe before I could check the changes. It took forever. I’m not sure what WordPress does differently, but it’s better and I love it. Any reason you’ve stuck with MT?

  8. Belinda says:

    Well, that’s official, then. I am never, ever, ever upgrading from my crappy free Blogger to any of the incomprehensible “improvements.” I am just not smart enough.

    I hope you gave this exact feedback to the company, though.

  9. Charred says:

    I’ve developed quite the fondness for Expression Engine.

  10. James says:

    And some of us just have a Myspace page.

    sigh…

  11. Carl says:

    It’s why I stick to Blogger. Used to use MovableType, couldn’t remember the slightest bit how to install it, and the instructions made me dizzy. Good old Google…

  12. RW says:

    Then there’s cheap ass misers like me who are still on blogspot.

    But that’s how I became a millionaire. Well… someday.

  13. Neil T. says:

    You’re totally right about the documentation. I’m sure there’s an option to allow you to enter tags without needing to separate them with commas, but I’ll be dammed if I can find out how. I even scoured parts of the MT source code, to no avail.

    I only found out about some things when I actually read the full beta changelogs, which aren’t exactly light reading.

  14. SJ says:

    I absolutely LOVE WordPress, now that I sort of know what I’m doing. Every problem I’ve had with it has been caused by my own errors or ignorance. And the documentation is massive. Sometimes it does take awhile to find the exact info I’m looking for, but I usually learn stuff along the way. And you gotta love the open-source community!

  15. You know I’m a huge Movable Type fan, but their documentation does suck. And for the sections that have great documentation the index sucks so you can’t find that page.

    They redid their documentation a sub version or two ago and it’s even worse since it seems like they gave all the MT commands their own page so when you do a search you get a bjillion results (once you find the correct page, it seems much better). I liked it when it was all one long page, I could do a better job finding things with just using my browsers find command.

    And they’re absolutely awful at documenting new features in new versions. The only reason I wanted to upgrade was to fix a few minor bugs that should have gotten a maintenance patch ages ago. But I’ve learned to live with them, and I know the upgrade will break something else so I think I’m just going to leave it alone…

    It’s still great software but it really needs better documentation (and the docs need to specify what versions they are valid for).

  16. Actually, I got sidetracked. I meant to post about the new Star Trek poster. From going to StarTrek.com I think it’s supposed to be obvious what the two colors and the symbol mean the show may be about. But while I’m a ST fan I’m not one enough to know what those three things mean.

  17. JoeBruin88 says:

    Movable Type sucks. I got rid of that crap almost two years ago. You should switch to WordPress.

  18. Kevin says:

    Considering the problems you’ve had, I’m shocked you haven’t ditched MT yet. How come? Nothing better out there?

  19. Jaxia says:

    Ahhh, I’m so glad I use WordPress :) I know other people have mentioned it, but switching is SO worth it!

  20. Deb_LA says:

    Ok, I guess I’ll be using WordPress then!

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