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Movable Type Monday: Cumulus, Action Streams and MTOS Proposals

Movable Type Monday: Cumulus, Action Streams and MTOS Proposals

The release of Movable Type 4.2 seems to have breathed new life into the Movable Type community as today’s post will reveal. The past week gave us a series of new proposals from the open source community (covering topics from new and deprecated templates tags to major code refactors), a number of new plugins (including several Action Stream plugins) and a slew of tutorials!

Welcome to Movable Type Monday!


Cumulus: Cumulus displays tags in a rotating sphere with a user being able to control the direction and speed of the sphere. This looks like a really cool new take on the traditional, sometimes boring, tag clouds! Kudos to Steve Springett who ported Roy Tanck’s original Cumulus plugin.

Praized: From Praized Media, their namesake plugin calls itself “local search in a box” and “comes pre-loaded with over 17 million US and Canadian local business listings.” The plugin comes in two parts – the first dubbed “Community” allows you to add these local search functionality to your blog while the second, named “Publishing Tool,” allows you to tie your blog posts back to the local search.

WidgetSetLoop: A new plugin from Hajime Fujimoto began as a proposal on the wiki and gives you a new block/container template tag that allows you to loop over the widgets that make up a widget set (as opposed to the WidgetSet tag which simply displays the entire widget set).

Action Stream Plugins: What would a Movable Type Monday post be without new Action Stream plugins. This week we have plugins from Mike T and Yves Luther:

  • Rejaw – creates an action stream of the latest shouts from Rejaw
  • Disqus – creates a stream of comments you’ve posted on blogs that use Disqus
  • coComment – like the Disqus action stream plugin, this plugin creates a stream of comments you’ve posted on blogs that use coComment
  • Slashdot – aggregates comments posted on Slashdot
  • – creates an action stream from video updates posted to and also stores the thumbnail and video URL to allow you to actually display the video in your stream
  • Reddit – extends the built in Reddit support to add support for action streaming.

Thanks Yves and Mike! This is the reason that Action Streams has quickly become my favourite plugin!


Over the last couple of weeks, there have also been a number of great tutorials to tricking out your action streams:

Action Streams Grouping: Yves Luther tackled the problem of repetitive action streams (for example if you’ve uploaded a large number of photos to Flickr, you don’t want each photo to be presented in a separate stream). In his tutorial, Yves has a snippet of code that allows you to group together streams that have extremely close timestamps. Richard Benson followed this with his own take on collating action streams. Hot!

Custom Display Based on Stream/Service: Richard also wrote a tutorial describing how to change what the action stream displays based on the content or from which service it originates (for example displaying a thumbnail of videos from YouTube, or images from flickr).

Action Streams Field List: I wish I had this tutorial a few weeks back! Action Streams provides a StreamActionVar template tag but it’s very hard to find the names of the variables this template tag can output. Richard stepped in which his article, listing the variables available with all the action stream services! Thank you Richard!!

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With the launch of the open source version of Movable Type, one of the ways the community began to play a much larger role in the direction of the product was by writing proposals on the wiki. The last week gave rise to a number of exciting new proposals:

Major Code Refactoring: Mark Stosberg and Tim Appnel renewed a discussion on the MTOS-dev mailing list about refactoring Movable Type’s core infrastructure to use more of the open source code found on CPAN. The discussion highlighted the pros – amongst others, getting more Perl developers interested in Movable Type – and the cons – how do we maintain compatibility for plugins – which led to the creation of two proposals:

  1. The first is the Project Roadmap which attempts to better define, at a high level, the direction of the code (with the objective being a leaner code base that is less reliant on homegrown code). The project plan details how such a large refactoring could occur and also discusses the effects on existing and future users.

  2. As part of the first step, Mark proposed the QueryObjectRefactor.

Defining Prerequistes in the Registry: As a developer, one of my favourite new features of Movable Type 4 was a new “registry” – a central location to store configuration properties. Byrne Reese proposed updating the registry to allow plugins to define prerequisites (as some plugins only work under specific versions of Movable Type, or rely on another plugin e.g. Action Streams).

FogBugz Reorg: Early last week, Chris Hall announced a reorganization of the public bug tracker to streamline the bumps Six Apart and the community experienced with bug reporting during the MT 4.2 cycle (in particular with the fact that it was hard for the community to get an insight into bugs with the non-open-source part of Movable Type).

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