Standards Compliant CMS's and Blogging Tools | July 7, 2004

Don’t get me wrong, I actually quite like MovableType. Unlike some, I’ve not been that bothered by the recent fuss over licensing. However I’ve really always wanted to use a a blogging tool written in PHP rather than perl. It’s not like I’ll ever actually get round to writing a plug-in, but at least with a PHP system I may have a chance at hacking something nasty together. With perl I’m just lots for the start.

I do admit that I get a little bored having to rebuild the whole site when I make a small change to a template. It gets even more frustrating when you’re making lots of changes. I can see why MT does this. By making the pages static it takes the strain off the server. Not such a big deal if you’re using MySQL, but I guess it would be very difficult to do using text files.

I’m also looking for a standards compliant cms that I can use on small client sites. I know that you can hack MT into shape, but I’d really like to find something that uses a page/section based architecture as well as the date/post model used by most blogs. I had a play with Drupal but didn’t find it that intuitive. Looked at a few others but none have really done anything for me.

Anyway I’ve been noticing quite a few people migrating away from MT of late, most notably towards Textpatttern or Wordpress. If you’re one of these switchers I’d be interested to know

I guess it’s the last one that I’m most concerned with. No so much the content, because I think that’s quite easy. It’s more to do with being able to replicate the same site structure and functionality. I recently changed all the URL’s on this site and don’t want to have to do all that again. Too much hassle for me and disruption for you guys. Also I use quite a few MT plug-ins to do various things and want to make sure I can actually keep the site functionally similar.

Posted at July 7, 2004 8:53 AM


Lukasz said on July 7, 2004 9:18 AM

To be honest, I have not moved from MT yet but will soon. In a moment, I am seriously considering two of a number of free CMSes that are around: aforementioned TextPattern and blosxcom.

TextPattern is somewhat similar to MT as it utilizes the same idea: a location-independent publishing tool. There’s a number of plugins one can install. Still, TextPattern is somewhat “slimmer”, if I can express it this way. MT — let alone SixApart’s draconian licence charging — has always seemed to me as a bloatware: it offered too many functions among which I used a mere 20%. I would gladly exchange remaining 80% for the functions I were always missing (like mass comment deleting and things).

Blosxom stands on the other end of the scale: it is light-weighted publishing system that offers the most required functionality. One does not have the possibility to post an entry via WWW interface; instead, you have to login and upload your entry directly to server. This way user has preserved a broad flexibility every Unix shell account offers. The downside is that you have to FTP to your ISP which is not always possible.

As far as porting entries is considered: TP offers a suitable plugin to import/export the content from MT. For Blosxom, I think, I would be possible to implement a simple perl script that would do the job.

At the moment TextPattern is my option but I am still making my mind.

Dave Child said on July 7, 2004 9:54 AM

I personally use bBlog, which though still in its infancy is very very easy to modify (which is an important criteria for me). I’m not sure it would be terribly useful for someone without at least reasonable knowledge of PHP.

I’ve tried both TextPattern and WordPress. I love TextPattern’s interface (and in fact am in the process of re-creating it for bBlog), but don’t like the tagging system it has. Some people probably find it makes life very easy, but I found it gave little control. That said, the tagging system put me off so fast that I may not have given it enough of a chance.

WordPress was ok, but the admin area looked awful in Opera. The install itself was a piece of cake and the system isn’t bad - I preferred it to TextPattern.

Robert Castelo said on July 7, 2004 10:13 AM

Drupal is not the most user friendly CMS out there, but it makes up for that with standards compliance, accessibility, and robust well written code.

Drupal 4.5, coming out sometime next month, will feature tabbed management pages, which will hopefully make it a lot easier to use.

There has also been an influx of MT users, who have made great contributions to Drupal’s Blog features.

Recommend you take a look at 4.5 once it’s out ;-)

Mike P. said on July 7, 2004 10:21 AM

Hey Andy,

We were at a crossroads as well when setting up our blog. We do PHP, so MT was out of the question.

We had a look at WordPress and Textpattern, at 1.1 for WordPress and mere hours after Textpattern was launched, I believe.

We decided to roll our own because neither tool set up nice out of the box (error messages galore), and we weren’t into debugging and ‘decoding’ either of them to begin personalizing them (hacking them).

Recently, however, I set up a WordPress blog and it took mere seconds to get it working, all without error messages. There are a tonne of good plugins out there, and as Molly found out, the support is excellent.

Has we not already done our own, chances are we’d be on WordPress these days… That being said, DIY’ing does have it’s pluses…

Neko said on July 7, 2004 11:11 AM

I’m happily running TXP and so far it is the best CMS I’ve ever used.

The rebuild issue was something I couldn’t accept. Also, I didn’t fully understand MT when it comes to organizing sections and categories. I think TXP is alot better.

I tried many after MT, the ones I worked on more were WP and TXP. I chose TXP ‘cause of I’m not very expert with PHP and WordPress required serious scripting knowledge in order to operate modifications. To me, WP looks more like a blog publishing tool than a real CMS. Also, TXP managed sections, categories and image galleries natively, which was what I was looking for.

During the early days, when tuning templates and checking that everything was working, TXP was obviously insanely fast if compared to MT. Debugging and refining while dealing with the rebuild issue is frustrating.

I had many articles but they were saved like normal HTML files, so it was just a copy and paste. But TXP has an MT > TXP importer which works quite fine, I suppose.

heath weaver said on July 7, 2004 11:18 AM

I have been commenting about this same issue on my blog.

I don’t think that it is necessary to move away from MT (although I agree about wanting the CMS to be written in php). Instead I am considering making some new templates that have the output header.php, footer.php, & sidebar.php .

By modularizing (my new favorite word) the different ‘chunks’ of your blog, you will only need to rebuild a few pages.

I would do it as follows: First, set up the more static portions of the site (such as your header information or what not) as templates in your index section and then instead of adding that info to each individual entry or category entry using an include statement to bring the data in when it is viewed. When you want to update your header or footer you will only need to rebuild your indexes.

When someone views your individual archive or main index it is the include statement that does all the work not the rebuild.

The one drawback is if you want to have a true archive of your site (as in you want a copy of how a page looked at the time of writing), don’t know why you would want that, but you never know.


Jon Hicks said on July 7, 2004 11:22 AM

Why you decided to move away from MT?
- Rebuild times, general sluggish feel

Which blogging tool/cms you chose and why?
- Textpattern for 2 reasons. Nice clean interface, and I can control an entire site from one installation. Upgrading is quick and easy. It feels fast and lightweight, yet powerful enough to run my site.

What, if any, benefits have you noticed from making the move?
- Everything is fast. Making changes, adding a new link feed, new section can all be done quickly. I found that I’m posting more often strangely enough.

How easy was it to migrate your content, templates and site structure/functionality?
- There was an import script for taking MT Entries straight from MySQL. As long as you don’t have any entries in TXP yet, it works like a dream.

One point against TXP. Although it is fully standards compliant, some of the tags create markup for you, e.g permalinks to articles, giving you less control than MT. I’m not sure, but I think Wordpress does something similar. There are also areas such as comments forms which are ‘hidden’ from editing, and contain inline CSS. I’ve hacked these out.

It was a close call between this an Wordpress, but the ability to control an entire site was the deciding factor for me.

Janne Kalliola said on July 7, 2004 1:01 PM

I’m currently using WordPress, and I am quite disappointed. I’d to tweak and bend it in several strategic places to get it work in a manner that I see fit.

The WP code is tangled and does not provide clean ways to modify the system. The plug-in system is shaky, too, and it doesn’t provide enough visibility into how plug-ins actually work. This is also due to limited amount of documentation available.

Some of these issues may be generated by the fact that the system is designed for people with a little experience in programming, and I have twenty years background. On the other hand, I’m completely novice in blogging (got my blog up and running a month ago). So my requirements may differ from the masses.

I’m too considering TextPattern, but WP is good enough with the fixes and tweaks, and I don’t want to have similar hassle just after getting everything done.


PS. The WP default template is ugly and it isn’t that easy to fix. I spent two days with the CSS to get thing in good shape. At least I’m satisfied with the results. Check yourself at

Rami Kayyali said on July 7, 2004 1:27 PM

My recommendations for a PHP blog are Wordpress and Textpattern, they seem to be the most complete ones out there, althought both of them still aren’t as extensible as one might think. I read that Mark Pilgrim migrated from MT to Wordpress successfully, so I suppose Blogography can do that too as easily.

Personally, I decided to move away from MT for extensibility reasons, there are a lot of things MT can’t possibly do, the software is very specialized, so without much tweaking and hacking here and there (read, you can’t expect to manage all of your content in MT.
And no, the money isn’t an issue, since you only pay it once, and you’ll only pay it if you really really like the software, which aparantly you don’t.

As for me, after looking here and there, I decided to grow my own blogging software, it’ll take a while, but I know it’ll be better than everything else, simply because it fits my exact needs.

One note regarding rebuilding pages in MoveableType, now I know it’s a boring proccess, but it does take a lot off the server, only try using MT-Rebuild plugin rather than the Web interface for rebuilding pages, it’s much faster.

Eris said on July 7, 2004 1:52 PM

Textpattern has been great to me. There are some glitches that irk me, like some of the inline css and the way the comments forms are done and there are some features that I’m still waiting to be fully developed, like the “trackback” thing, except Dean calls it something else and it makes more sense. I can’t wait for that. TxP offers something that the others don’t yet, and that is a simple and efficient true separation of content and style through all aspects of the system.

The difference between my choosing Txp over WP was simply that WP has sloppy and buggy code all the way through it. I can’t handle inline unordered list tags all over my code. Or to deal with installing a new WP and use another database just for another section. With Textpattern, you don’t have that problem. One install controls as many sections as you want, much like MT. But you don’t have to create a new blog with a whole new set of templates for it like you would with MT.

I used MT for a few years and found myself continually loathing it. The tags have to be in a certain order on a certain template. The templates, far too many. Sure, it is possible to set up headers and footers and such, but that set-up process is a pain. The majority of the blog design/installations that I do use MT and I find myself never looking forward to installing it. Creating the includes for this, that, and everything else. And then the rebuilding.

I did a design for a great gentleman who had over 2000 entries and three times as many comments. It would take 30 minutes to do a full rebuild.

When MT first came out, nobody considered that as a problem because nobody’d yet accumulated that many entries. But now people have and the rebuild time is just unacceptable. It’s the number 1 complaint I hear about MT.

The one thing I’d say MT has in its favor is the huge library of plugins. There are still some things that MT can do that TxP and WP haven’t evolved to yet.

But in a year, when TxP and WP go through some more refinement, it’ll be interesting to see how everything plays out.

Another one to consider is Expression Engine. TxP and EE are my two most widely pimped systems. TxP if you want to operate a nice blog, and then EE if you’re needing something truly rich in features. If you’re worried about having your site mimic MT’s functionality, give EE some consideration. It is also PHP-based and doesn’t require any rebuilding.

Egill R. Erlendsson said on July 7, 2004 2:21 PM

I’ve been using MT for a couple of years and I haven’t had any problems making it work with PHP (The MT engine/backend itself is of course strictly perl).

All my templates are PHP documents, and I’ve stripped out the layout from the content-templates. All the “layout” specific HTML is in seperate files, which are never rebuilt when I post entries. Those layout specific parts are included with simple PHP code.

The content-templates are extremely minimalistic, and do NOT containt layout-specific HTML. That means I hardly never have to rebuild the whole site when making changes to the layout. When changing the layout, all I need to do is fix the Header-, Footer-, Navigation templates and rebuild just those files. Then of course CSS takes care of the layout/design itself.

By doing this I’ve found MT to be fast, and easy to use.

John Y. said on July 7, 2004 2:24 PM

As I never used MT, I can’t offer any advice or comments with regard to the migration, etc.

That said, I would wholeheartedly recommend either Textpattern or Wordpress, but which one you choose depends upon the specifics of the site in question.

Wordpress is excellent as blog software, but that’s really all it does. At least as of the version I installed (I’m at work, so I can’t easily check, but I think it was 1.2) there’s no system for maintaining non-blog pages (about me, etc). Sure, there’s a couple of creative hacks I’ve found for this sort of thing, but that doesn’t change the fact that Wordpress is not a CMS.

If you’re looking for a full-fledged CMS, I’d go with Textpattern all the way. It’s just fantastic. Easy to use, etc, etc. All the important stuff is correct.

There’s a healthy plugin community for both of these products, as well. The key thing to remember is that they’re not really comparable, and you have to identify which one is going to correctly solve your problem.

Lashlar said on July 7, 2004 2:28 PM

A partial way of getting around the annoyance of rebuilding using MT is, in my humble opinion, setting up MT to output PHP variables which are then parsed by a template engine (such as Smarty). Using that, I’ve only had to rebuild when I add an entry, delete comments or other such things. (Except when I upgraded to MT 3.0D and went back to add variables for TypeKey functionality.)

To a certain extent, it is a stop-gap measure, and I’m looking seriously at Textpattern as an alternative, as I’ve decided that Wordpress just does not cut it for me. The primary reason I’ve not switched is because I like the customizability of MT’s URLs. If Textpattern would let me reuse my present permalink scheme (date-based) I would probably have moved over by now.

Garrett Dimon said on July 7, 2004 3:25 PM

We’re rebuilding our site, and while extensively testing Textpattern and MoveableType, we chose to go with MT for the one fact that it does not force you into using PHP.

We use .Net, and with the unique way that MT is built, it allows you to build your content through MT, and then use whatever technology you want to for building the pages.

Of course this can cause confusion on where you would put presentation logic, but we solved that by essentially using MT as just a database interface that outputs ASPX pages.

I know PHP is popular among most because it requires very little formal knowledge and it is free, but the benefits of .Net are just too great to ignore, so we had to go with MT.

Of course, if you don’t care about .Net, TextPattern won in almost every respect of the comparison (Especially price).

Kevin Francis said on July 7, 2004 3:48 PM

I moved because MT was closed source, and monolithic somewhat. It was also annoying with its rebuilding. Also, it was … well not quite my bag.

I moved to WordPress, and am now pondering a jump to textpattern, as it has almost exactly what I want. WordPress is blogging software, and I need somewhat more than that - I want something to manage my sites other pages (About, Articles, etc.)

Eric Meyer said on July 7, 2004 3:54 PM

So there’s no confusion, I’d just like to reiterate what I said in the post you referenced:
“I didn’t migrate from Movable Type. I’ve never run Movable Type. Okay? That’s not saying anything for or against MT. I’ve just never used it.”
Thank you.

Mike Burnard said on July 7, 2004 4:16 PM

My experience with MT came after a return to blogging from GreyMatter some time ago. I used OpenJournal for a short time and it wasn’t intuitive, compliant, or neat in anyway ( useful in a small way, I suppose ). I came accross MovableType and thought wow, that sounds fantabulous. It seemed to be great, though at the time I was still a bit daunted by using such a robust system. I came accross WordPress and thought, wow, now this is really a keen system. I know quite a lot more perl than I do PHP, but have found WordPress to be intuitive, and the community that uses and supports it to be wonderful. There are some neat hacks out there that I have read about, however, I haven’t used many.

As someone who is neither an expert in web programming, nor MySQL use, I have had much success with WP. WordPress, as it turns out, is the most Fantabulous in my experience and opinion.

Adrian Rinehart-Balfe said on July 7, 2004 4:22 PM

Having hopped and skipped through many of the options over the last few years, my Wife and I have both finaly settled our choice of blog/cms scripts.

We moved away from MT because of all the reasons stated above. Also because I disliked having to install a plugin to deal with the intolerable comment spam that MT seemed to attract. I think that a basic function of that sort should be part of the system.

I moved to Textpattern for a number of reasons. The comments are set up in such a way that I have had no spam in the six months I have been using it. I love the fact that it is capable of doing more than just run a blog. The UI is pleasant to look at and not so cluttered as some of the others. The forums/support are very friendly, helpfull and quick.

The move was easy the way I did it. A script was run to import all my MT entries. I copied/pasted my main MT template right into TXP and changed the MT tags for TXP tags, keeping my external CSS outside as I had done with MT. I then cut/pasted parts of the template into the appropriate forms. A couple of paths needed changing but that was all.

I am now hooked on TXP. Sure, it has some quirks and takes a little time to get your head around but they all make sense in the end. There are funtions that do not work yet but look very interesting. Plugins are easy to write but everything I need has been done by someone else. I have seen people request plugins on the forums and seen others write and post what was needed in only a few hours!

My Wife went for Wordpress. It installed in a snap and imported her MT posts with ease. I created new templates for her and left her to it. She is happy to just use it. She doesn’t want to mess with code or settings so once it was set up, we left it alone and it seems to do a very good job.

Overall I think that TXP offers more possibilities for fiddling with and makes tinkering kinda fun. WPdoes a great job at running a blog but doesn’t venture towards being a CMS.

It all comes down to what you want and the type of user you are. Both are very good and neither my Wife or me would ever consider swapping!

I also installed Pivot for a client who had no MySQL available and I found that to be very good as a WP alternative. The client hates computers but likes Pivot!

Good luck with your decision, we both moved before any of the license nonsense and have never looked back.

Andy Budd said on July 7, 2004 5:20 PM

Hi Eric,

Sorry about that!

Stephen Collins said on July 7, 2004 6:29 PM

I can’t comment to much abou this yet, but will have a post about it in the near future. I have decided to keep on MT and my new site will be created with WP.

I hope to shortly note the pros and cons of each.

Caleb Rutan said on July 7, 2004 6:29 PM

I moved my site away from MT mainly because of license issues. I was using the three allowed blogs already, and have plans for at least one more, so I was concerned about running into the legal limitations. Plus, I wanted to go to something that was GPL’ed.

Wordpress was what I chose, after some cursory looking around at other blog software. It isn’t perfect, but it is pretty good. I think the administration pages are very well put togther, especially after you’ve worked with MT’s more cramped style. It does require some PHP knowledge, but it isn’t too bad. I say that as someone who hasn’t done any php until this install, too. I’m a perl hacker by trade, though, so YMMV.

To answer your questions, though:
Reason for leaving MT: Licensing concerns, desire for something new.
Which Tool: Wordpress. Ease of installation, GPL, good community support. (Did I mention free?) Also considered: bloxsom, blosjom, ee.
Benefits: Admin/Posting interface is much nicer, IMO. No rebuilds, which is also a plus from my point of view, though the dynamic rendering of pages is kind of a drag.
Ease of Migration: Took me about two hours, give or take, to get the main blog up and running again. If you’re familiar with PHP, cut that time by, say, 40%? Import was easy, (do an export first, from within MT! That was my biggest time-wasting mistake; I had to set up an MT system again.) On the whole, though, very easy. Especially as I tore out all the MT css to begin with, so fixing up the WP templates was pretty straightforward drop-in replacement.

I don’t think any of these systems fit the bill too well as a CMS. I’ve had this nagging feeling about that for quite a while, and have recently started working on a tool for small web sites, which I’m currently calling a Website Management System (WMS). Part of the drive for me to do this comes from watching some of my co-workers struggle to make Expression Engine fit their needs, and seeing where it comes up short. Which is mostly on the management and process end of things. It is a jack of all trades, and therefore falls short in most.

At any rate, I’ve only just begun to work on this system, and whether I finish it or not, it is a long way from there. But I need to manage several small sites, and I’m tired of doing it by hand, or worse, riding herd on a bunch of folks submitting content in Word documents.

Good CMS systems seem to be far and few between. I think the big reason for this is that they are so broadly purposed that they don’t do one thing well. But then again, I may well be very wrong about that.

Hans said on July 7, 2004 7:02 PM

Well, this might be the opposite of some people’s experiences, but I found Movable Type utterly confusing. Not only did I know anything about Perl (I still don’t), the interface was ugly, confusing, and un-organized. The tags didn’t make sense, and the point of generating static pages just didn’t “click” with me. It was all so bad that I never even got to making an actual, live, blog post. And thus I searched for other options.

By a stroke of luck, I came across Dean’s website while searching for something about typography, and Google led me to his 20 Faces Flash movie. Being a geek, naturally, I went up to the root and found he had a blog. I looked at the links. “Textile?” Hmmm… I wonder what that is? I checked it out, and eventually found the Textpattern page. Love at first sight.

I believe Textpattern “thinks” the way I think; I do things “the hard way,” I don’t “go with the flow,” and pretty much everything is organized and the interface is clean and simple. Plus, no more nightmares about the hideous “REBUILD” button. Also, Textpattern is written in a language I understand (PHP with mySQL), and so it’s highly customizable/hackable. You can make it what you want in a very short amount of time.

However, at this point in time, Textpattern is not for the “blogger newbie,” so-to-speak. It’s best if you know some things about Apache, PHP, mySQL and XHTML. I’d say it’s for the “intermediate” user and up.

That’s my tale.

Jeff Minard said on July 7, 2004 7:42 PM

I’ve not used MT before - but from the sounds of it, it is a very powerful tool - just a little annoying at points.

Being a programmer, I decided to go the more fun route and make my own. Like stated before, this makes the blog work perfectly for me, because it has everything I want and does it just the way I want. If it doesn’t - I can fix it! In addition, it’s nice to have done it yourself. If you have the programming know how to do it this way, you should definately give it a try.

However, in the war between WP and TxP, you can fairly see that TxP is winning ;-) I think this is because WP, while very good, is a simplified solution. I mean, it seems to be very one task oriented - “set up a single user blog fast and start”. While TxP allows you to set up fairly quickly, but then is more extensible. My roommate is going through the process of setting up a TxP site and he’s thuroughly happy with it.

Les said on July 7, 2004 7:55 PM

I moved away from MT in part due to the licensing issues and in part due to a desire to get onto a dynamic system. I tried by TextPattern and Word Press and thought they were both fine packages for the most part, though both lacked things I felt I needed such as out-of-the-box support for multuple blogs. I also wasn’t happy about the fact that my template was mixed in with my index.php file under Word Press.

Ultimately I went with ExpressionEngine for two reasons: 1) I was lucky enough to get one of the free licenses they offered during the MT licensing uproar and 2) it came closest to giving me everything I wanted which is pretty good for a package that only recently hit version 1.0. The plugin system for EE is not as extensive as MT’s, but that’s because EE also allows for whole modules to be added in. The response in terms of support has been pretty good (and was recently tested via the trackback spammer) and the future looks bright.

If I were still looking, though, I’d take a second gander at one package I missed the first time around called pLog. It’s PHP, Open Source, dynamic, and looks to hold great promise. Granted, I’ve not downloaded and installed it for testing purposes, but what little I’ve played with it over at left me intrigued.

Just my two cents.

Brian said on July 7, 2004 8:16 PM

You should give Expression Engine a try. No static pages, but offers caching ability so the DB doesn’t take a hit everytime. Full set of features, search engine friendly urls on both linux and windows. Written in PHP.

Richard Earney said on July 7, 2004 8:20 PM

Would there be any advantage to running your blog locally - on your own computer (whichever Blog system you choose) then using CVS (built into the Mac) to update?

I’m thinking that the changes being made locally would be faster than on the server and then CVS is pretty quick to update the site.

Tim said on July 7, 2004 9:07 PM

I used MT very early on but switched to pMachine and then to Expression Engine (same developers.) I did an intranet for a work project which emulated a printed book’s structure and it was very painless. Thats with over 300 categories. Its very fast and completely modular. Caches tags, data and templates. Everything, including templates is stored on the database. It has a very active, very responsive growing community. It can do static pages Eris, perhaps not in the sense most would think of as static but still static nontheless (uses global user-defined variables and embedded templates.) I am in the process of moving my personal site from pMachine to EE and continue to be surprised by its power. There is also an MT-import utility which by most reports, seems to work well.

There are a few things I’m not satisfied with, mostly to do with EE’s handling of categories (not as flexible as I’d like) and although there are regular builds, the development of modules is taking a bit longer than I would like. I put that down to the perfectionism of the guys who develop it. The 1.0 release is very solid and I have had virtually no problems with it. Also, the control panel takes some work to modify for end-users if you are using it for clients to self publish but it is not too difficult. It also costs, but I think it is worth every cent. Too many features to mention. Give it a look

Sorry about the long post but I am in evangelist mode!

Michael Schmidle said on July 7, 2004 9:49 PM

One of my requirements was to be able to set up quickly and easily the CMS of my choice on my local webserver. I need to test things out before broadcasting them. But to configure Apache to work with Perl took much more time than to configure it to work with PHP. That’s why MT never was an option.

Finally I ended up with ExpressionEngine. Simple installation, powerful features, clean and nice administration interface, flexible template handling, extensible architecture and tons of advantages more. I’m just setting up my website with EE.

EE comes closest to my ideal publishing platform, even just hitting 1.0 while other higher versioned tools are miles away from what I need. Okay, my requirements are high and still there are limitations also to EE, but finally I’m very happy with it and can expect more to come.

And for me, that is worth the price.

Eris said on July 7, 2004 9:56 PM

haha, what? I never said EE couldn’t “do” static pages. I think you’re talking to Brian, there. I love me some EE. ;)

To talk about EE some more, I mostly use and suggest EE to companies more than blogs. The last one I did had multiple departments in the company and each department wanted their own “blog”, but they wanted them to only be accessible within each department, with the department heads having access to all the multiple blogs. Using EE gave them the features that a company would need to stay organized and communicating, and it has the security (though I had to go in and tweak some things) to allow/not allow certain subgroups into certain areas. Txp, MT, WP all offer an access hierarchy of some sort, but EE really flushed it out.

harlan said on July 7, 2004 10:22 PM

I recently moved my site from MovableType to Nucleus CMS. It’s free, PHP/MySQL, open source, has great built-in documentation and active support forums, a healthy archive of plugins, and a great default feature set. It really has been an excellent system. A spin-off version (gotta love open source) called Blog CMS has the latest version of Nucleus, but also includes 45 pre-configured plugins (and is compatible with all Nucleus plugins, as well). Unfortunately I only heard about Blog CMS after I had Nucleus up and running so I don’t know if it’s as good as the hype.

The only problem I’ve had with Nucleus is that there is no officially supported way to import entries from MovableType. It does support the MT API though, and there are unofficial methods of doing it. I decided to start fresh with a clean archive when I moved so I really couldn’t tell you how well it works.

Other than that, you can’t go wrong with Nucleus. Far and away better than MovableType.

Tim said on July 7, 2004 11:16 PM

>haha, what? I never said EE couldn’t “do” static pages. I think you’re talking to Brian, there. I love me some EE. ;)

whoops. Sorry bout that.

Brian said on July 8, 2004 2:29 AM

How does it do static pages in the traditional sense of the word? I mentioned its caching ability, which I guess you could say creates a static version of the page.

Regardless I love EE.

Brian said on July 8, 2004 2:31 AM

I forgot to add .. One of my favorite features is with comments, it allows those who post in the thread to receive an email letting them know someone else has posted.

Probably a plug-in out there for MT but it is built into EE and works great.

Michael said on July 8, 2004 2:45 AM

For me, it was the about the license. Specifically the lack of communication about it. I evaluated my situation and decided that there was just nothing about the blog that prevented me from leaving. That was good enough. I had been evaluating WordPress and TextPattern for a while just to see what they were like. WordPress offered the one thing I absolutely had to have: full compatibility with my existing URI structure. The biggest thing I have noticed: speed. Not having to wait for a rebuild on the site (since it has over 2600 entries) has been wonderful. Transferring my entries over entailed using a non-standard method which was partly written by me and partly offered by others. The community around WordPress is a definite strength. I was ready for a new look anyway so the templates did not make the trip.

Tim said on July 8, 2004 7:03 AM

I can’t agree with you more on the PHP vs Perl CMS argument. I can hack PHP, but really can’t grasp Perl.

So have you tried It’s a PHP CMS.

From their site:
Plone carefully follows standards for usability and accessibility. Plone pages are compliant with US Section 508, and the W3C’s AA rating for accessibility, in addition to using best-practice web standards like XHTML and CSS.

I have only tested it and haven’t used it extensively. So I can’t really give you a good critique of it. But it does look quite powerful and seems more suited for business communications, rather than a personal site like many other CMSes.

Koen said on July 8, 2004 8:23 AM

I moved away from MT as well. Mainly because of the rebuilding process.

Wordpress is what I’m using now and I’m very happy with it. The installation really is only 5 minutes and you can easily tweak it. Importing my old entries was only running a script, no problems there.

luke said on July 8, 2004 8:51 AM

err plone isn’t PHP…
Plone is built using Zope, an object oriented application server. The language that drives Zope and Plone is Python…

Anyway big ups to EE also. Might be overkill for one blog, but otherwise its funk-tastic.

Neil Bradley said on July 8, 2004 9:35 AM

I moved away from MT because I was fed up with the time it takes rebuilding files. I now use WordPress and i’m more happy with this tool.

You don’t need to rebuild files all the time as it works with the mySQL database and doesn’t create the php pages aswell.

The installation procedure for WordPress is so simple and takes no time at all. You can export your entries from MT and then import them into WordPress. I experienced problems exporting from MT, it took about 5 attempts to export all entries in a blog - each attempt got 10 or 15 more entries than the previous one for some reason.

The only niggle I have with WordPress is that it is running a bit slow on my site, I think this could be to do with my hosting being on a Windows Server rather than a Linux server. I believe there is a plugin that helps WordPress to run a little faster so I need to track this down.

I’m also looking for a plugin that can show recent entries from 2 or more blogs on one page (the website homepage).

Alex said on July 8, 2004 9:39 AM

I’ve always used B2 which was the forerunner of WordPress. Haven’t got around to upgrading to WordPress, but am in two minds now since I found another B2 spinoff,

Only played with the demo but it looks to have all the advantages of WordPress with a slightly nicer interface and a few extra whistles.

Tim said on July 8, 2004 9:49 AM

Brian, re EE, I suppose they are not static in the real sense,but why not just create an entire page with no dynamic features and store it as a template. The only non-static thing about such a page is that it comes from the database. You can also create whole pages, or chunks of pages or chunks of anything you want in the user-defined global variables if you were so inclined.

Ben Pirt said on July 8, 2004 10:57 AM

I spent a long time searching for a CMS and found them to be roughly divided into two camps - those that use modules to provide a certain functionality (forums, blogs, etc) and those which are more like a development framework which allow you to build your own system exactly as you want it.

In the first category I have a particular liking for drupal but I eventually settled on eZ Publish.

Although eZ has a somewhat steep learning curve, it is definitely worth pursuing. One of the nice features is that all content is checked for XHTML compliance - so no more problems with clients entering their own incorrect syntax and breaking your standards compliance.

Version 3.4 has become a nice mature package and also has some advanced features like generating PDFs of any of your pages and being able to perform server side image manipulation.

I can’t recommend it enough

Owen said on July 8, 2004 2:39 PM

I’m currently making the switch from MT to Textpattern and it’s a steep learning curve…

Why move away from MT?
For all the reasons stated above, really. It’s too big, rebuilding takes way too long, very complex tag system, I have no knowledge of Perl so hacking is out of the question, somewhat bored of it after a number of years, takes too long to shape it to my needs. The licensing issue isn’t really a concern, but it was a prompt to encourage me to move on.

Having said all that, I did like the vast array of MT plugins that were developed and the enormous amount of support available on the forums.

Which blogging tool/cms was chosen and why?
I chose TxP mainly because I’ve always enjoyed and I trusted Dean to produce a worthwhile product that worked. It’s also a good reason to learn PHP as I’ve never had the opportunity to really get into it. TxP is lightweight and fast.

But it has taken time to grasp a lot of its concepts, which do represent a move away from conventional thinking about Web content (in a good way). There is no official documentation and many of the help files included don’t really give much away. The support offered in the forum is very good, but it has to be to make up for the lack of documentation.

What, if any, benefits have you noticed from making the move?
Speed of update is a big benefit over MT. The database structure is simpler. I am learning PHP, at last!

How easy was it to migrate your content, templates and site structure/functionality?
Moving the content was no problem, but templates and structure/functionality are difficult. I’m still getting it together and constantly refer to the small number of helpful sites out there.

Reid said on July 8, 2004 4:04 PM

Why you decided to move away from MT?

The toxic aura of my highly unstable karma caused a fatal glitch in my Movable Type install at the end of March. At least, that is the explanation I have come to accept, since I can find no other. Another MT glitch the previous September caused me to lose database control of 3 years of entries … they became terminally static pages. So, I was getting pretty tired of losing control of my content. And doubly frustrated by the fact an identical second install of MT on the same server (for three smaller blogs) continued to hum happily (and still does).

It’s my opinion that as your MT site grows in size (2,100 entries, 4,200 comments), you’d better pray your host has a fairly pure setup and very liberal “nice” settings on the server (scripts that cutoff processes which take up X% of memory or processor cycles). As people pile on plug-ins and and try to rebuild thousands of pages, some servers “Just Say No.”

Which blogging tool/cms you chose and why?

I looked at Wordpress (then at 1.0) and Textpattern (then gamma at 1.17). The decision was as much intuitive as logical. Comparing feature sets didn’t make a clear choice for me, but after doing a test install, Textpattern just “felt” right, and I found it would do the things I most desired. And Dean Allen’s long held reputation played no small part. Choosing software written by a well respected designer with great concern for typography added a level of comfort about future developments.

Death of MT to Birth of TXP: 4 days, complete with a redesign. It imported everything MT refused to rebuild anymore (content back to September). After I switched hosts, I then tried to import the 8MB text file MT had refused to import last September. TXP sucked it right down. Now all 2,100 entries and 4,200 comments made from Jan/2001 through today are all controlled by TXP.

What, if any, benefits have you noticed from making the move?

The obvious benefits of dynamic versus static pages; I can change a template on a whim. When a visitor adds a comment, they get quick feedback, and the comment shows very fast (with MT, it takes so long, people often click “Post” again in frustration and double post). And by not using the “Microsoft” of blogware, I don’t seem to be a target for comment spammers (not a single attempt in three months). Also, TXP’s and MT’s search functions compare like a Maserati and a Yugo.

On the down side, there are times I miss Trackback, though I’m still able to send them using sites like SimpleTracks. At this point, the selection of plug-ins is more limited. And in general, TXP is much more in an infant state (in terms of features, community, documentation, etc.) compared to the far more mature MT. I mean, we’re comparing gamma software with version 3.0. Even so, it matched up well enough for me.

How easy was it to migrate your content, templates and site structure/functionality?

Since I’ve done two imports to add over 2,100 entries, I’d say the MT to TXP import script that uses the MT text import format works quite well. Its main failing is that it doesn’t convert line breaks in comments, and the occasional Textile glitch if you weren’t using it in MT, but it will quickly get your content into the database.

URL schemes are an issue. Natively within TXP, there’s currently no way to match up to the MT URL’s you are using for archives. Luckily, MT leaves you a huge pile of static pages, to either leave in place, or add redirects. Some people use elaborate mod_rewrite rules in .htaccess to get around it. There is no easy solution at this point.

As for the templates, I used the opportunity to make a needed redesign, including the CSS structure, so there wasn’t much to migrate. Beyond that, I had to strip some mostly minor plug-in functionality (acronyms, smart titles for links, etc.). It’s definitely not the same as it was, but I didn’t intend for it to be.

I’ll put it this way: I never intended for MT to die on my server just before the licensing fiasco … but in retrospect, I’m glad it did.

Eric Rasch said on July 8, 2004 7:14 PM

Have any of you considered using Mambo? It’s an open source CMS and it’s really user friendly (proof: I setup my Dad’s business with it and HE can EDIT his own site). It’s blogging capabilities need improvment, but it’s still a really good alternative. I’ve tried using Drupal and didn’t get very far, and I haven’t tried MT or WP or the like (though I have downloaded them). Once I tried Mambo, I didn’t look back.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to sound like a commercial, but I didn’t see it mentioned on this page and it is relavent to the topic. I am always on the look out for something better (for me), but I haven’t found it yet.

AkaXakA said on July 8, 2004 9:17 PM

As I’ve just double commented in the following story, I can see why MT is seen as slow.

I’ve used WordPress myself (0.72) and was quite pleased with it. Textpattern I also tested, but it was pretty alpha then and somehow I managed to mess up the db…

So I eventually settled on Mambo, as I really wanted the site managing features it has. The only problem is the sloppy html it outputs, but with a bit of hacking (or using xMambo) it can be fixed pretty easily. I’ve also been impressed by eZ Publish, and was tempted by the clean xhtml, but as Mambo has a much larger and more active community I went for that one.

Mambo 4.6 should bring clean tableless xhtml output, so that should satisfy my needs.

However if you’re purely going for a weblog, I’d go for either Wordpress or Textpattern. I can’t really say much myself about then, as I haven’t used them since their alpha and beta days, but seeing how Ian Hicks site turned out in TxP, I’d have to put my bet on that one.

Lee said on July 8, 2004 10:19 PM

Jeez that’s a lot of comments.

Anyhoo, I moved from a ‘roll your own’ because it was taking too much time to develop. I chose WP because it was being touted about so much during the MT exodus, and being PHP meant I could play about. It also chose it because it has a big community, plenty of plug-ins and because it just seems to be a little further down the development path than Txp.

I’ve found that it makes posting a more pleasant experience, and not worrying about the technical part means that I can focus on the import part of any site - the content.

On the other hand, getting it to look and work how I wanted it to involved a ton of hacking and a handful of plug-ins, not a fast or easy process, and I doubt it’ll be easy to upgrade should I want to. Say la vie.

Thanks to all the recommendations here, I might start looking about, just to see what else is out there.

Chris King said on July 9, 2004 8:57 AM

I am not a programmer by any means, but I gotta say that WordPress has been an excellent PHP based online publishing tool thus far. Implementing it into my site structure was a seemless process that took very little time. It was seriously a matter of plugging in a few lines of PHP into the body of the existing page.
Although the user interface is a bit on the drab side, I feel it is admissible, and is made up for by the more than sufficient features available.
The support for WordPress seems to be abundant as well. Hopefully it is not needed…Knock on wood.
Anyway, thats my two cents. Hope it helps. Good luck!

dusoft said on July 9, 2004 6:17 PM

I have developed and use Absolut Engine content management system that has WYSIWYG editor, cleans up output to comply with XHTML 1.0 Strict and has clean URLs support built-in. It’s developed in PHP and uses MySQL as a database. Demo at: demo of Absolut Engine content management system (

dusoft said on July 9, 2004 6:21 PM

I forgot: Absolut Engine is open source.

Dave Foy said on July 11, 2004 6:47 PM

Great topic! Searching for a standards-compliant CMS for my clients’ projects (not bloggers) has been tricky to say the least.

One product I found that has proved to be an absolute dream to use (and cheap at approx £70 a licence) is Big Medium ( It produces totally standards-compliant code (XHTML Strict 1.0). The developer is extremely helpful with support, and it’s been great for developing a couple of sites that have required frequently updated news content. The only downside is that it’s DB-less and uses Perl (tho the developer has some sound reasons why this is the case, it’s been no problem for me, even tho I always usually use PHP/MySQL).

Couple of sites I have in development using Big Medium:

If it was PHP/MySQL it’d be perfect! Good luck with the search Andy.

Sam Ryan said on July 11, 2004 10:49 PM

I’d recommend pMachine. It’s PHP-based, you can post on the web, edit templates on the web, build a mailing list, etc. and it works beautifully. The only reason I stopped using it on my site is that I don’t update often enough to warrant blogging software.

Colly said on July 12, 2004 12:51 AM

Andy, Expression Engine all the way. It’s much like your first computer - take delivery of it, spend ages trying to work out how to do everything, get frustrated, think you got the wrong one, back to the manual, still confused etc, etc…

And then, one day, you realise it does everything you want it to do…perfectly (obviously I refer to Macs here!). Like it’s predecessor (pMachine) it is beautifully thought out. I hacked it to death and turned it into a CMS we can use when we don’t use our own - and it’s just so feature-rich. I do wish people would give it more of their time. If it’s PHP-play you want, it’s the best. PHP inside templates inside templates inside PHP etc etc - no limits.

I’ve never used MT, so I shouldn’t comment, but it seems most users are frustrated with it for one reason or another. Stuff about having to keep rebuilding sites? Seems like a frustrating tool.

I have played with TextPattern - seems great, and I like what Hicks has done with it recently, offering his hacks for all to experiment with. But, I still believe EE is the best. Lots of people say it’s limited, but if you can write PHP if/else’s and MySQL queries, you can take it to the stars and back…

AkaXakA said on July 12, 2004 3:09 AM

I’ve just found a good write up from someone who’s tried a lot of blogging tools, and ended up using WP:

Owen said on July 12, 2004 4:48 AM

I’ve always though of making a MT killer in php but I really can’t be bothered with all these annoying MT users.