Mad, Beautiful Ideas
CMS Woes

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I migrated my Blog to Movable Type several months ago, in my efforts to migrate parts of my site from PHP to Perl, and also because I wanted my site to be baked instead of fried. I chose Movable Type for two reasons. First, there aren’t very many choices when it comes to Perl-based CMSes and Blog software, particularly those that support several database backends. Second, it is (now) Open Source, or at least a version of it is. Third, I was hoping it would combine my Blog and my websites into a single CMS system.

Unfortunately, to date, that’s still just a hope. Movable Type bills itself as a Blog and CMS system, but it is, first and foremost, a piece of Blogging Software. It’s good blogging software, and I’ve had very few problems with it (the reCaptcha plugin has been problematic, but I just upgraded MT, so I need to try it again). The main problems I’m running into, are the fact that the new features in MT4 haven’t made it considerably easier to use as a basic CMS. ModX, the CMS software I’ve been using, is quite a bit more complicated than I need, and I’m not fond of it’s database and server-load, particularly due to my shared-hosting environment. All the other Perl-based CMSes, like Bricolage, aren’t built to operate in shared environments, or are heavy enough that I don’t really want to have them and MT installed.

My complaints with MT as a CMS are two-fold. First, the default templates are only adequate to run a blog. Templates should have been provided to run a simple set of static pages as an MT system. Second, there is no way to replace the Indexes for various folders with Pages. The Page and Folder functionality is a great addition, as it allows me to match content with my style, but I need to be able to make the index for a folder be a file of my choosing, and that includes the Root folder, for MT4 to work as a CMS. Still, it’s close.

There have been other people who’ve used MT as a CMS in the past, but all the advice I can find on the Net are for pre-version 4. It seems like Six Apart tried to make MT into a real CMS in Version 4, but right now, it’s just not quite there. Of course, that means that I’m going to need to work on hacking support for what I need into Movable Type, the changes, of course, being made available under the terms of the license. It’s a bit annoying, as I will likely need to put off the content creation for my Consulting business’ website, though I suppose it would make more sense to build that as static pages now, and import it into MT when MT will do what I require.

I did look at WebMake, a program that uses flat files to build a directory tree that could then be uploaded to my web host, and it seems interesting. however, I was having a lot of trouble building the directory structure I wanted, and eventually gave up on it. Trying to find a CMS right that fulfills my requirements of “Perl-based” and “baked-not-fried” practically whittled me down to those two products, and MT is the clear winner for me, as it allows me to keep all my data in one place (the MT database), and hosts all my sites in the same software. One point of maintenance is a big selling point.

So, in the end, my website will be migrated to Movable Type 4, and my Consulting site will eventually live there too, but it looks like I’ve got some code to write to make this work the way I think it should.