Why the switch?

Though I have no real idea what you, oh Gentle Reader, actually want to know (since you seem rather averse to leaving comments to tell me), there are signs that you may be curious about why I left my first blogging love for a new tool.

In a word: hackability. The extra features (available now!), the end of so many Blogger frustrations, the exposure to Mena’s lovely design, are all very nice, but it’s the opportunity to change things to suit me, limited only by my lack of Perl knowledge, that actually made me switch.

What really tipped me over the edge was the weblogs.com outage. I use blo.gs to find out who has updated, and since most people don’t ping blo.gs directly, during the outage I was back to wandering aimlessly amongst un-updated blogs. So, I wanted to figure out what it would take to get more people pinging blo.gs directly.

Having hacked weblogs.com ping support into Blogger before Pro came around, I knew pretty much what it would take there: either rework a bookmarklet to ping both sites at once, and then try to remember to hit the bookmarklet after every update, or put in a byzantine script to automatically ping when you click the “view web page” link in Blogger. Odds of persuading people that they should do either one: not good.

I hadn’t installed Movable Type since sometime last fall, so I thought I’d take a look at 2.0 while seeing what it might take to hack in a blo.gs ping. What it took was maybe 15 minutes to install, 5 minutes to find where the ping happens, and 30 minutes to figure out where to put my one line hack to ping blo.gs (okay, Perl’s not my language of choice: I’ll work on it).

I once spent far too many hours working on a bookmarklet which would load a remote javascript file which would then use the DOM to rewrite the code in the Blogger web interface, trying to add a select menu of favorite links and bits of code (things like <span class=”red”></span>), but only got as far as changing the background color with moderate reliability, and putting in non-working form elements with poor consistency. To do it in MT, I need only look at the example of the Smilie Bar hack, replacing the smilies with things I actually use.

Partly for historical reasons, and partly to separate content on different subjects, I was running half a dozen separate Blogger blogs, with no good way to handle overlapping content (“New post in blog X that you should read if you don’t also read that blog already” – bah.). Now I’ve got one blog with categories, and extended entries to hide the excess when I go on and on about something that I doubt most people will want to read.

Then there’s the support issue (from my twisted perspective): reading the Movable Type forum and answering a question or two is a pleasure, compared to the venom-spewing nightmare that Blogger’s forum has turned into. I honestly enjoy helping people with their blogs, but if I have to wade through thirty posts threatening that Pyra will go out of business unless the poster gets personal assistance from Evan 24/7, just to find one actual question, a lot of the pleasure goes out of it.

As I’ve said before, there’s plenty of room for different blogging tools meeting different needs. Much as I would like to have some more interesting reason for switching (“Ev promised me he would link me from Evhead, but then he backed out of the deal.” [Actually, come to think of it, that’s almost literally true, but insignificant.]), it’s really more of a “how I started smoking” story: all my friends were trying it, so I tried it too, and liked it.


Comment by Kafkaesquí #
2002-05-14 19:02:44

As long as you’re happy with it, Phil. There’s not much more to get out of life. So enjoy, and those of us hanging back still try to keep up on your latest hackademic research!

Comment by Kafkaesquí #
2002-05-14 19:06:34

For the perl folk, use this on my last post:


Comment by nick #
2002-05-14 22:00:26

yes, i agree. ? blogger is great for people who are starting. i’d say it’s almost a prerequisite for using something like mt, due to the much steeper (but still not bad) learning curve. of course with the learning curve comes more fun, a seemingly endless assortment of crap to play with. and something i always hated about blogger: no real manual, just a bunch of random how-tos and a few disorganized forums. yes. and stuff.

Comment by Donna #
2002-05-15 09:31:05

I agree with Nick; MT has really piqued my interest in the programming and design side of blogging – the writing was always interesting to me.

Phil, your explanation sounds appropriately ”Phil-esque” if I can say that – you wanted to check out what was under the hood, and you liked what you saw.

Works for me!

Comment by Cari #
2002-06-03 09:45:58

Hi Phil, Like you, I’ve completely had it with the blogger forum and the issues of late. I upgraded to PRO only to have my first real problems. I want to switch to something more configurable and reliable. I’ve researched Movable Type and like it but am possibly looking in wrong place for answers… you’ve always known what to do so I’m hoping you might help! Is there an easy way to migrate current blog to MT from Blogger? i.e. old posts?

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2002-06-03 14:37:32

Easy-peasy: first you export your posts from Blogger, and then you import them in Movable Type. Then you come to my blog for instructions on importing comments from dotcomments if you decide not to just stick with dotcomments (I like the integrated MT comments better, even though there are things I’d like to change about them, when I get a round tuit).

Comment by michael paige #
2002-06-05 17:34:18

Phil, I don’t know how you did it as long as you did. Glad to see you enjoying MovableType. Ben and Mena did/do excellent work.

Comment by mamselle #
2002-07-03 11:20:11

yowza :) now i can bug you about mt things? :)
lol…just kidding!
i lost all my blog comments before i could read your tut..pity
looking forward to seeing your name on some exciting hack features :)

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