Michael Dale | Tue, 12 Oct 2004 5:50 PM
[b]About the Programs[/b]
Movable Type (MT) is probably one of the most popular blogging tools currently around. While WordPress (WP) although fairly new is making a huge impact on the blogging scene and is looking to challenge MT for “top place”.
MT was first released in 2001. During 2002 a company, Six Apart, was formed around this blogging tool.
MT is primarily based on the perl scripting language and seems to function quite differently to the PHP based WP.
The WP project started in 2003 as a branch off b2, another blogging tool. WP has now become the official branch of b2. Although it seems more like a fork than a branch. As I’ve said before, WP is coded to work on PHP/Mysql.
MT and WP both have fairly different licenses. I don’t want to go too much into this as I want to focus on the programs themselves.
MT allows a free limited version that cannot be used for corporate sites. It supports 3 weblogs and 1 author. If you require MT for a corporate website or with more support for weblogs and/or authors you’ll need to purchase either the Personal Edition or a Commercial Edition. The pricing structure varies a lot so check out the website http://www.movabletype.org/
WP is licensed under the GPL which means you can do pretty much anything you want with it, plus it is completely free, one of the main reasons this piece of software is so popular. The WP site can be found here: http://www.wordpress.org/
Like most web based programs you’ll need a web server and some way to upload your files. Other requirements differ for each program.
• The ability to run custom CGI scripts
• Perl, version 5.004_04 or greater
And, either: Support for the DB_File Perl module *OR* MySQL & the DBD::mysql module. Also you may need PHP for all the features.
• PHP version 4.1 or greater
• MySQL version 3.23.23 or greater
• (optional) The Apache mod_rewrite module, for full cruft-free URI functionality
From the WP site:
[quote]Hosting is a commodity these days and with a little digging it’s easy to find a host that supports the above for the same or less than you’re paying now.[/quote]
This is relevant to both MT and WP.
I’m going to give my personal experiences with installing each piece of software. It will probably be easier for you if your site is hosted by a hosting company because they normally run all the other software you need.
The software I’m currently using is the following:
Perl 5 (in this case I use activeperl)
I should note that my php skills far outweigh my perl skills. So understandably WP should be easier to install (although more about this in a sec).
I am currently using WP 1.2.1 and MT 3.11
[b]The WP install[/b]
When installing WP there isn’t much prior software configuration that you really need to do. PHP 4 comes with mysql support built in (and installing mysql support for PHP5 isn’t all that much harder).
Apache is recommended as it supports mod_rewrite. To setup mod_rewrite all you need to do is (for windows systems, might be different for others) uncomment one line in the apache config file and restart the service. I’m assuming that you already have PHP and Mysql installed.
After that you need to create yourself a mysql database and setup a username and password for it. The WP install is very easy and the following explains everything you need to do.
[quote] [b]Installation: Famous 5-minute install[/b]
1. Unzip the package in an empty directory
2. Open up wp-config-sample.php with a text editor like WordPad or similar and fill in your database connection details
3. Save the file as wp-config.php
4. Upload everything.
5. Launch /wp-admin/install.php in your browser. This should setup the tables needed for your blog. If there is an error, double check your wp-config.php file, and try again. If it fails again, please go to the support forums with as much data as you can gather.
6. Note the password given to you.
7. The install script should then send you to the login page. Sign in with the username admin and the password generated during the installation. You can then click on 'Profile' to change the password.
That is it. WP is ready to go. Now onto MT.
[b]The MT install[/b] *queue bloodcurdling screams here*
MT requires perl which is a bit different to PHP. To install perl for windows just download something like activeperl. It has a nice GUI installer.
I’ll talk you through the way I installed MT although it is probably better to setup perl fully first.
Download MT and unzip it somewhere.
The first file you need to change is mt.cgf. So anyway I open up mt.cgi, doh unix new line crap all over the place. You’ll need a text editor than handles the unix style of text documents. I use metapad. So anyway back in metapad we’re greeted with a fairly self explanatory config file.
You’ll need things like where the cgi-bin is located, the username for the database, email address. Things like that, nothing too hard. The documentation goes over this nicely.
One comment I should make before we move on is that MT supports more than one type of database system. For this install I used mysql. It will be a bit different if you use one of the other supported databases.
The next file we need to open is mt-db-pass.cgi. All you add to this file is your database password (it is in this file for security reasons or something).
So anyway. That is all I thought I had to do, cool.
Jump into my browser and go to the address http://servername/cgi-bin/mt.cgi.
[b]SERVER 500 ERROR[/b]
Great. So I sit there and think for a bit. Nothing is documented about this in the config file. But then I realized!
/slap stupid windows user you don’t have a thing called /usr/bin/perl
Anyway each .cgi file needs to point to a program to decode it, in this case perl. So I needed to change every .cgi file to point to #!C:\perl\bin\perl.exe. Once that was done I tried again. YAY. We have a webpage.
Pity it was another error. My perl install didn’t have support for, well anything at all. I needed to install the mysql database module and a few other things. This wasn’t really documented in the installer either. Good old google helped though.
I really like the perl system. Installing the module was _very_ easy. All I needed to type was
I think there was also a few other modules but the documentation listed them. Just another simple task of
Perl would then download all the files needed and it was done. Easy!
Anyway back to the MT install. I tried again and this time it worked. Unfortunately MT is a bit different to WP and I got a bit confused with the way the program works.
In the cgi-bin you store like the backend of the program, where all the processing happens. When you build your site the “frontend” is placed outside the cgi-bin. The first time I build the site I placed the frontend stuff in with the cgi-bin files. That didn’t work. Although I fixed that and everything was sweet.
My first MT installation; took a while though! I think WP took 5minutes and MT was about 30min. Anyway it was running.
To tell you the truth I really don’t like the default template that comes with WP, just feels yucky. Although no matter! WP has a great template system. If you’re not in the mood for designing something download Kubrick from binarybonsai (his name is Michael too so it must be good :p) it is a pretty sexy template. Found here: http://binarybonsai.com/kubrick/
The admin panel is nice, but again I didn’t really like it. I’m not sure why. But it has grown on me. It is nice, fast, stable and easy to use. There are lots of features and many that you might not use. Have a play around.
WP prides itself on being able to output valid code. Out of the box it is valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional. Of course you can make this XHTML 1.1 or even break it completely. The template system allows you to do what ever you want with the layout of the site. To include certain objects, say your posts or an archive etc you just call a function for that object. This allows you to use what ever CSS style you like. Nice.
I don’t know if it was the overwhelming enjoy of actually getting the thing to work or what but I really seemed to like MT. Although it is a bit of an odd program I quite liked it. The admin panel is quite separate from the blog itself and resides in the cg-bin. When you first log in you are give the option to create a weblog.
MT supports multiple blogs unlike WP, so it is like a global admin area. All your weblogs are listed and you click into each on to configure it separately.
Something that I had to come to terms with is the idea of rebuilding your site. Literally when you do this your site it rebuilt. In the frontend area most of it is like a static page. When you post a news item the page is rebuilt. Now it is a bit different to what I expected but it seems to work well.
The plus I suppose is that high traffic sites won’t use up large amounts of CPU usage. Although I’ve heard rebuilding can be very slow on large sites.
The commenting system is strange. At first it looks like you need to use their central system to store comments. But after going through the settings commenting works pretty much like WP.
One thing I did notice is that there are a lot more general options in MT over WP. Things like: do urls become auto linked or not, do you require your name and email address to comment, what file extension should I use (ie html) etc. It seems to be a little bit more thought out than WP.
Overall MT feels a bit more powerful than WP for some reason. Although I don’t think there are that many differences. MT is older than WP so I suppose you can expect that.
One last thing, the style that comes with MT is really nice and clean. I really like it! The template is also valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional, just like WP.
Oh templates. MT also has a good template system. Somewhat quasi-php. For example . Personally I prefer the WP way as it doesn’t get processed by WP itself, you are working with real php/html code. Still it seems to work well and most MT websites I’ve seen look really good. More than I can say for some WP sites. But that is up the to website owner not the program itself.
[b]Other Features and comments[/b]
• Instant publishing with no rebuilding *ahem MT*
• Full web standards compliance
• Integrated blogrolling features
• Password-protected posts
• Custom fields
• Dead simple upgrades and installation
• Easy to customize
• Multiple authors
• Multiple categories
• Post to future
• Post by email
• Uses PHP and MySQL
Personally I think WP is a bit more basic compared to MT, but everything it does well. WP 1.3 is going to introduce static pages like MT, remember not every page needs to be static. This will be a good feature for sites with large amounts of traffic. A list of new features can be found here: http://codex.wordpress.org/Version_1.3
I think the big plus of wordpress is it is easy to use and it has a good community backing. I haven’t spent much time looking at the MT community but the WP is pretty good. Bug fixes can be submitted and the cool thing is that they’re included!
Wordpress is somewhat new and it feels that way (a good thing). I think there is going to be much more improvements in WP over MT. The nature of the licensing allows this and will probably allow WP to overtake MT in both usability and features. WP has a good future.
• Multiple Weblogs
• Flexible static and dynamic PHP publishing controllable on a per-template basis
• Movable Type allows you to set a post's date stamp to any date or time you wish, for pre-dating or post-dating information when it goes live.
• Advanced Template-based site customization
• XHTML/CSS Compliance
• Plus more
Supposedly MT has a pretty good community too.
The thing I worry about MT is its continual growth. I’ve heard that needing to rebuild your site can become an issue and can be really slow. I also think that perl is going to die out at some stage (although not for awhile). MT just feels a little old and not as innovative. But that it just my thoughts. MT currently has more features than WP.
MT isn’t the easiest thing to install and I’ve heard that you really need to hack a lot at it to get it the way you want. Although all these things said I really do like MT. It does feel nice.
Both programs are great. I think after you’ve play with both you’d feel quite at home. MT is harder to install but has a few extra features. WP is very easy to install and has everything most individuals would want from it. Remember MT needs Perl where as WP is PHP based.
For new comers to the blogging scene I think I’d recommend WP as it is easy to use and setup (although the default template could do with a replacement). MT feels a touch old. If you’re currently using MT and thinking about changing you might want to try out WP first before you upgrade. MT is still nice but not great to setup (plus for anything above the limited edition you’ll need to fork out money).
I hope this has given a fairly unbiased review of both programs. I don’t use either WP or MT for my blog so I shouldn’t be too inclined to choose one over the other. Although I have spent more time with WP than MT.
A default install of both WordPress and Moveable Type can be found below:
(feel free to play with them if you like).