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April 14, 2009

Movable Type Monday: CSS, Template Tags, and Reblogging

Happy Monday, folks! This week, we have three new plugins to talk about, so let’s get right to it.

Reblog — A few years back there was a reblogging plugin that was part of the eyebeam reBlog software. That one was never updated to work with Movable Type 4. Now, Six Apart has released a brand new Reblog plugin. This one reads Atom and RSS feeds and creates entries for each one. This is particularly useful if you post to multiple blogs and want to pull all those entries to one site.

UnrecognizedTags — This is another Six Apart plugin. This plugin adds an option to the Tools menu that allows you to check all your templates for unrecognized template tags. This is something you’ll want to run after an upgrade, or when moving old templates to a new install. That way, you’ll know if your templates reference a tag from a plugin that’s not installed.

Custom CSS — And finally, another plugin from Byrne Reese. Custom CSS gives you a simpler way to edit the CSS for your blog. With this plugin you don’t have to change any templates or change your core CSS stylesheets just to change the style of your blog. Thanks, Byrne!

What have you done with Movable Type lately? Let us know in the comments.

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April 7, 2009

Movable Type Monday: Etelos Partnership, Plugin Development, HTML Tidy, and More

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Happy Monday, folks! We talk a lot here about making Movable Type easier for customers to install. Many have hoped that MT would start showing up in some of the “one-button install” systems available to hosting providers. We’re starting to see that happen, most recently on the Etelos Marketplace. These kinds of easy installs go a long way in convincing businesses to give MT a try.

A couple of useful things this week for plugin developers. First, if you’re new to plugin development, David Raynes has started a series of posts on plugin writing 101. This looks to be especially useful if you have some Perl experience, but aren’t sure where to start with MT.

Also, for more advanced developers, Six Apart released their unit test suite for plugin development. To learn how to use the test module, check out the first full tutorial in David Rayne’s series.

Speaking of plugins, we’ve got some new ones to tell you about:

Tidings — Also from Six Apart, Tidings is a content filter based on HTML Tidy. You can use it to clean up HTML, XHTML, and more. It can be especially useful for ensuring user-submitted code doesn’t break your site.

SyntaxHighlighter — For those of you that blog about programming, this will definitely come in handy. Written by Makoto Kawasaki, this plugin lets you post syntax highlighted code.

MediaURLs — This plugin, created by Scott Boms, makes it easier to take advantage of separate domains and subdomains for different media files. This is an important technique for speeding up page loading, so it’s nice to see a plugin to simplify the practice.

What have you done with Movable Type this week? Let us know in the comments.

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March 30, 2009

Movable Type Monday: Motion, Plugins, Hash Tags, and More

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Happy Monday, folks! First, I’d like to kick things off with a blog post that generated a lot of discussion this week. Designer and developer Mike T. wrote about the many things that frustrate him with the current state of MT. Whether you agree with him or not, he brings up some important points, and generates some interesting conversations in the comments.

For another critical look at MT, check out Ken Edwards’ first impressions of Motion. Ken discusses some of the pros and cons of upgrading to a Motion-style site. read more

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March 16, 2009

Movable Type Monday: Operations Manual, Plugin Updates, Desktop Blog Software, and More

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Happy Monday, folks! I hope you enjoyed last week’s interview with Byrne Reese. Byrne is back this week with the creation of an open source operations manual. The goal of the project is to create a set of best practices for installing, running, and maintaining Movable Type. Byrne is looking for collaborators, so if you have experience managing MT, consider getting involved.

Plugins

Stop Design Photo Gallery — More from Byrne Reese. This is the set of original templates from the Photo Gallery plugin. As mentioned previously, it’s been spun off into its own plugin for those that want to keep that design rather than the new Mid-Century templates. read more

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February 23, 2009

Movable Type Monday: Proposals, Affiliates, Themes, and More

Happy Monday, folks! We’re going to start this week with something that’s probably a little too “under the hood” for most people, but indulge me for a moment. On the Movable Type wiki, developers are discussing a proposal to refactor the variable tags in MT. Sure, it’s not flashy stuff, but if you’re a developer interested in how improvements are made to open source projects, proposals like this are interesting to read.

Now, on to the plugins!

BlogShow — This Flash photo slideshow sports an impressive selection of features, including keyboard navigation and cross-platform support. Created by ITDR, the download available in the plugin directory is a trial version that can be used for up to five galleries.

Yandex OpenIDAndrey Serebryakov continues to make MT more useful to Russian bloggers. This time, he’s added support for logging in using a Yandex account, the largest Russian web portal.

Automatix LightBox — This plugin makes it easier than ever to add Lightbox functionality to your blog posts. Submitted by Mixel Adm, the instructions say just install, upload, and rebuild.

EchoCurrent Affiliate Product Optimizer — EchoCurrent is designed to show your readers affiliate products selected specifically for them. Created by Mike Ruggieri, this plugin will make it easy to put an “APO Zone” anywhere on your blog.

Photo Gallery — Last week, we discussed the changes Byrne Reese was making to his Photo Gallery plugin. Well now he’s got a release out. The old templates have been replaced by the new theme, and there’s even an upgrade script for people still using the 1.0 version of Photo Gallery.

Finally, the CMR Movable Type Styles Blog has a new template set: iNove. Based on a WordPress theme, this comes in both Classic Blog and Professional Blog versions.

What have you done with MT lately? Let us know in the comments.

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February 16, 2009

Movable Type Monday: A Photo Gallery Theme and an Open Thread

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Happy Monday, folks! It’s a slow news week in the Movable Type community. The one item I want to point out is the Photo Gallery Theme from Byrne Reese. Byrne maintains the Photo Gallery plugin, and now he’s building a theme for it based on the Mid-Century Template Set. Nice work, Byrne! I’m looking forward to the release of this theme.

Since I didn’t run across any other Movable Type news this week, I thought we could use this as an open thread to discuss all things MT. What do you love/hate about MT? What are your favorite plugins? What have you struggled with the most? What features do you want to see in a future release? Whatever your thoughts on MT, let’s discuss them in the comments.

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February 9, 2009

Movable Type Monday: Easy Installs, BetterFields, Contact Forms, and More

Happy Monday, folks! If you’ve ever struggled to install Movable Type, you may have a new option soon: Six Apart has announced that MT will soon be available under the Parallels Application Packaging Standard. This will allow hosting companies to offer a simple install to their customers. If you have a Plesk control panel you’ll be able to install MT with the click of a button. MTers have always been envious of other open source projects that could be installed through things like APS. Hopefully this means we’ll see MT on other hosting platforms as well. read more

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February 2, 2009

Movable Type Monday: Action Streams, Exporting, Installing, and More

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Happy Monday, folks! Let’s start this week off with an installation tutorial. Gregory Tomlinson explains how to install Movable Type 4.23 on Mac OS X 10.5 It’s a short tutorial, but it gives you the information you need to get up and running.

Plugins

SlideShare — This plugin, created by Mixel Adm, makes it easy to embed SlideShare presentations in entries. For those that have used the WordPress version of this plugin, the syntax is the same.

Selective ExportMike T. released this plugin, which adds an option to export one or more selected blog posts. I can see several uses for this, like spinning off a set of posts as a separate blog.

Russian Action Streams — Written by Andrey Serebryakov, this adds 24 Russian services to the Action Streams plugin. I don’t know Russian, so if anyone does and has tried this, please let us know about it in the comments.

Share — I mentioned Share — a plugin for adding an “email this” function to your entries — a few weeks ago. Since then, Dan Wolfgang has had an official launch and created Share Lite, a free version with many features from the original.

MT-Notifier 3.5.2Chad Everett released a small update to the 3.5.x version of MT-Notifier. I have to hand it to Chad — maintaining one version of a plugin is hard enough, but he’s consistently releasing updates for both the 3.5.x and 4.2.x versions of MT-Notifier. Thanks, Chad!

What have you done with Movable Type lately? Let us know in the comments.

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January 12, 2009

Tweetbacks, Copyright and Scraping

Yesterday, a friend of mine on Twitter sent me a DM to alert me about a what she said “looks like aTwitter scraping tool”. I clicked the link expecting to find a social aggregator gone awry or a spam blog. However, instead, the link instead pointed to Joost de Valk’s new Tweetback plugin.

The plugin, as well as Dan Zarella’s plugin by the same name, searches Twitter to for tweets that link back to posts on the blog and displays those tweets on the site under their respective entries, much like a trackback, but with Twitter (hence the name).

These plugins do, by their very nature, copy and paste tweets, displaying them on the user’s Web site, all without the explicit permission to of the author. Where trackbacks are sent from the linking site and comments are left intentionally by the visitor, these plugins are different in that they activelhy go out in search of these “tweetbacks” (including parsing URL shortening services), even though the creator has taken no steps to ensure they appear on the site.

This, in turn, raises serious issues about copyright, scraping and more that have to be at least looked at. Is it legal to copy and publish tweets from others without permission, simply because they link back to your site? The answers are not as simple as one might initially think. read more

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January 5, 2009

Movable Type Monday: Custom Header, jQuery, ImageMagick, and More

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Happy Monday, folks! First off, I’m sorry there was no Movable Type Monday last week. Seemed like most of the community had taken off for the holidays, so I decided to hold what I had for an extra week. But now it’s a new year and there’s lots of new stuff to talk about.

Plugins

Custom HeaderByrne Reese put out a new plugin for uploading and customizing the header image on your blog. Custom Header handles the whole process of uploading, cropping, and positioning your banner image. This will be great for personalizing template sets, and it modifying an existing template set to use this plugin looks very straightforward.

Share — This plugin lets you add an “email to a friend” form to your blog posts. Created by Dan Wolfgang, Share is customizable and works with MT’s junk filters. Thanks, Dan!

Tips & Tutorials

Besides his Share plugin, Dan also recently wrote instructions for using his Poll Position plugin with jQuery. Poll Position lets you add polls to your blog. I’m a huge jQuery fan, so I’m glad to see Dan write this up.

Beau Smith wrote improved installation instructions for the Action Streams plugin. Looking at Beau’s method, it seems odd Action Streams isn’t set up this way to begin with. Glad somebody explained the right way to do it.

Writer Susan McNerney posted instructions on changing your banner image. It’s clear that Susan was frustrated by how much trouble it was to change her banner. Sounds like she needed Byrne’s Custom Header plugin.

Over at TMCnet, Tom Keating out does himself, writing a tutorial that offers several things one can do with MT assets. He starts with listing recent image assets linked to entries, then creates a related entries widget that includes images, and finally shows how to add images to the FastSearch plugin. Thanks, Tom!

Finally, John Walker describes how to install Image::Magick on CentOS 5.2 for your Movable Type blog. His instructions may not be limited to MT, but since ImageMagick is one of the most difficult things I’ve had to install for any blog platform, I wanted to share his instructions.

What have you done with MT this week? Let us know in the comments.

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