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61. Enhanced Berkeley DB Conversions

Don't Back Down, Tutorials, 12 KB, 956 words

While I haven't done a ton of Berkeley DB conversions for Movable Type, I am certain that if you are still on Berkeley, you should get onto a SQL pacakge pronto. This isn't to say that BDB is a bad product. Just that SQL is so much easier to administer when used with MT that it's not worth the effort of sticking with Berkeley.

As I was involved in the most recent of these projects, I ran into the age-old problem of too much data. The conversion just wouldn't run all the way through without losing data. Perhaps there are server tweaks that can make it happen. I don't know.

All I do know is that I could never get all of the entries to convert. Out of 1600 or so entries, I was getting...

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62. Hacking ShortStat

Eat Drink Sleep MT, Tutorials, 18 KB, 446 words

Earlier this week I installed ShortStat, a great little statistics tool from Shaun Inman. Its results are rather minimalist, but key information gets reported. ShortStat is easily integrated with Movable Type (and just about everything else, too).

I've detailed the changes I made below. If you're already running ShortStat and are feeling brave, you can just grab my modified functions.php and styles.css files. These are for version 0.36b of ShortStat.

Eliminating Horizontal Scrollbars

Every ShortStat installation I've seen has horizontal scrollbars at every location. These drive me nuts. I had to eliminate them.

Line 43 of styles.css is width: 256px;. Change it to...

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63. How to Succeed With URLs

A List Apart, Tutorials, 16 KB, 1877 words

If you're building or maintaining a dynamic website, you may have considered the problem of how to get rid of unfriendly URLs. You might also have read Bill Humphries's ALA article on the topic, which presents one (very good) solution to this problem.

The main difference between Bill Humphries's article and the solution I will present here is that I decided to do the actual URL transformations with a PHP script, whereas his solution uses regular expressions in an .htaccess file.

If you prefer working with PHP instead of using regular expressions, and if you want to integrate your solution with your dynamic PHP sites, this might be the right method for you....

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Designed to fully comply with five key web standards (HTML 4, CSS-1, XML, JavaScript/EcmaScript, and the W3C DOM), Gecko was developed by the open-source Mozilla group over a period of nearly two years. During that same time period, Microsoft unleashed its Internet Explorer 5 browser for Windows.

IE5 failed to fully comply with key web standards (notably XML and the DOM). In fact, IE5 "extended" these technologies in suspect ways, while failing to fully support the standards that were already on the table. Nevertheless, Microsoft's browser rapidly eroded Netscape's market share, due to the dominance of the Windows platform, the strength of...

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65. Year Archives in MT

Brad Choate, Tutorials, 81 KB, 3107 words

It's a shame MT doesn't provide year-based archives because some of us have enough entries for them even if Movable Type hasn't been out that long! Here's what my 2001 blogging year looks like. Well, you can create them manually-- and since you only have to do it once a year, it isn't too bad. Click the 'more' link for details...

All you have to do to build a year archive is create an index template...

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66. ProNet: November 2004 Archives

Six Apart ProNet Weblog, News, 55 KB, 4443 words

11.30.2004

Interview with Nick Bradbury

A good interview with Nick Bradbury of TopStyle and FeedDemon fame, with tips on becoming an independent software vendor:

If you plan to do this for a living, focus on building tools that make peoples lives easier or more interesting, and chances are youll last longer and find your work more fulfilling.

Posted by Anil in Blog Strategy at 08:34 PM | Permalink | Trackback (0)

11.30.2004

More on the MT3 Bible

Rogers Cadenhead talks a bit more about the newly-released Movable Type 3 Bible Desktop Edition, and is very generously giving away five author's copies to people who comment on, or link to, his post...

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67. More on Forms

Don't Back Down, Tutorials, 9 KB, 652 words

As I was finishing up the initial release of the blog, I decided that I wanted to do something different with the "add a comment" function. While it was clear enough that you selected the "no" button to keep from saving your personal information, the information was removed just by the clicking of that button!

I didn't find this intuitive, as a radio button is typically something you do before submitting the form - not something you do in place of submitting the form. If you filled in the form and clicked "no" before submitting your data, you would lose your information and have to start over.

In my quest for alternatives, I stumbled across mezzoblue by Dave Shea.

Dave used a table for his...

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68. MT-Notifier 2.4.1

Don't Back Down, News, 18 KB, 1108 words

Another update to MT-Notifier, which fixes a small bug with purging a user record from within the management screen. This worked okay if you were purging your own record, but if you were accessing the user interface from your Movable Type main menu (logged into the system), when you purged user data, you were kicked out of management mode and had to start over (the data was purged, however). This has been fixed. I also added a small log entry to record the number of notifications sent during any particular notification run. Thanks to Simon for another excellent (and easy to implement!) suggestion.

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69. Semantics and Bad Code

MezzoBlue, Tutorials, 14 KB, 904 words

Jason Kottke has written a thoughtful piece on the difference between standards and semantics, and if you're just learning this stuff by way of my site (heaven forbid) or some of the many others out there, it's worth your time to read it and consider his points.

Let me start out by saying that Jason is absolutely correct. You are allowed to use <font> tags in your valid XHTML. You are allowed to continue designing with tables. As long as you lowercase your tags and watch your nesting, there is nothing stopping you from building your XHTML sites without a lick of CSS.

But if this is all you're doing, you are like the driver of the VW Beetle carefully pulling...

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70. Designer’s Wishlist

MezzoBlue, Tutorials, 13 KB, 790 words

I'm currently subscribed to www-style, the W3C's mailing list for CSS development. CSS-3 is being developed this very moment by engineers and programmers. Why aren't a few designers involved in building a language meant for style? I honestly don't know. Maybe none of us were ever asked. Maybe none of us ever volunteered.

Mike Pick started a wish list today with linked text boxes and alpha-channel runarounds, two features he'd like to see carried over from the print world. Both are logical to the designer, and already work in existing software applications. Here, then, are a few more to add to the pool.

Element Awareness

Visual design is all about...

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71. How to Conceive a Layout

MezzoBlue, Tutorials, 12 KB, 760 words

I don't normally respond to CSS help requests, instead referring the asker to the css-discuss mailing list. It's mainly a time issue, but I'm also of the opinion that you can't learn if you have someone else doing it for you. I've never been one to ask for help if I could figure it out for myself. With Google and a few good books, I believe everyone can figure out CSS. It's not easy, it takes time, but it is do-able.

But the other afternoon I got involved in a dialogue and decided to answer a few questions anyway. Here's a patched-together result, which is very basic and easy to take for granted once you've learned it (and of limited...

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72. Better Listings Pages Throughout Movable Type 3.2

Six Apart ProNet Weblog, News, 22 KB, 1234 words

Except when you're writing or editing entries, much of the time spent in Movable Type is in managing the listings of entries, comments, TrackBacks, authors, or other items in the system. In past versions, listings could be inconsistent, with listings offering varying degrees of control, and the arrangement of information on some pages being frustrating. Worse, when the same type of information was listed in two different places, it wasn't always the same. For example, the comment listings page and the display of comments on an individual entry worked in completely different ways.

Every listing page improved

With Movable Type 3.2, we've made some massive improvements to the way that...

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73. Visual Design

MezzoBlue, Tutorials, 10 KB, 436 words

It's been lamented that most of the people using CSS for design are the people who shouldn't be designing in the first place. I have a theory about why the real designers aren't jumping in.

Building a site with tables, while tedious, is generally straightforward. You make sure your body margins are set to 0, you check that you have enough spacer GIFs, you chop accordingly, and you're good to go. It's refined to the point where there isn't a lot of thinking involved anymore.

CSS is still quirky. You have to remember to add your padding to your width instead of subtracting it, although in some browsers it works the opposite way. (I have to admit, IE5...

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74. Walking Backwards: Supporting Non-Western Languages on the Web

A List Apart, Tutorials, 13 KB, 1345 words

IBM has released a version of Netscape 4.61 with BiDi support. Which means absolutely nothing, to most Westerners. But this new version can display Hebrew and Arabic web pages natively, allowing developers to build more advanced sites, at far less expense.

Since I work mainly with Hebrew web sites in the Hebrew market, this article will focus on the Hebrew side of things. In Arabic, matters are similar but not identical, with some additional problems unique to the Arabic language. I would love to hear comments from people who create Arabic language web sites.

Hebrew and Arabic are Bi-Directional (BiDi for short) languages. Meaning that most of the text is written from...

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75. Spruced-Up Site Maps

A List Apart, Tutorials, 11 KB, 979 words

In the summer of 2003, while redesigning the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Management site, I reworked our site map using the practices I'd learned while studying web standards and related issues. As a result, the site map turned into a nested set of clean, streamlined, semantic unordered lists.

Nice, but boring

When you have a site that implements ideas from some of the best design minds on the web, you want to have a site map that offers better visual cues than a bulleted list. As I started to read articles like Dan Cederholm's Mountaintop Corners and Icon Styled Headings, David Miller's Zebra Tables and Mark Newhouse's Taming Lists, I knew there were simple ways to spruce up certain elements of our website - and that our site map deserved some attention....

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76. Sort Entry Listing

Movalog, Tutorials, 34 KB, 1518 words

On the forums, someone recently commented on how the listings in MT could be improved with greater sorting flexibility. I thought that it was a very good idea and so after a bit of hacking managed to get the entry listings to be sorted, it would be easy to adapt this for the comments and trackbacks listing.

This hack will add ascending and descending sorting capabilities to the title and date fields. The rest you can use the Filter option for.

First, you'll need CMS.pm, around line 2411 in the list_entries sub, find the following

my %arg = ( 'sort' => 'created_on', direction => $sort_direction, ($limit eq 'none' ? () : (limit =>...

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77. Problems with Default Style Templates

Learning Movable Type, Tutorials, 32 KB, 2574 words

(Note: this tutorial is intended for MT versions 2.661 and earlier.) If you are new to Movable Type, and are using the default style sheets you may have encountered a surprise when viewing your weblog in various browsers. The reasons for this are many. First, different browsers (Internet Explorer, AOL, Netscape, Safari) on different platforms (Windows XP, Windows 2000, MacOSX) render CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) in different ways. What looks one way on a Mac running Safari can look way different from a PC running AOL. Second, our dedicated team at Six Apart - Ben and Mena Trott - are Mac-ophiles, assuring that most of their default styles render well on a Mac, but not necessarily so...

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78. DropCap

Staggernation, Plugins, 8 KB, 638 words

This Movable Type plugin implements a set of template tags for displaying the first letter of a section of text as a "drop cap." A drop cap is a large initial letter of a paragraph that spans more than one line of text. The CSS2 standard lets you create drop caps using the first-letter pseudo-element. However, this will not display properly in older browsers, and it also doesn't allow you to use images for your drop caps. This plugin is designed to let you do drop caps the old-fashioned way, by using an HTML table or image with align="left", which will cause the paragraph to wrap around the drop cap.

The DropCap plugin currently only formats the first letter of the entire piece of text you...

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79. The Trouble With EM ’n EN (and Other Shady Characters)

A List Apart, Tutorials, 23 KB, 2832 words

The dawn of the web has frequently been compared to the invention of the printing press. But the web has also destroyed one of the greatest features of nearly every press since Gutenberg: the ability to publish pleasing type.

The printing press gave us type that was clearer and easier to read than that produced from a typewriter, because the typesetter had additional tools at his disposal - and knew how to use them. The web has cost us some of those tools.

Lack of tools and knowledge

There are two problems here. The first is that until HTML 4 came along, the web was missing almost all of these tools (it's still missing many important ones).

But the larger problem is,...

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80. MT-Textile does that???

Brad Choate, Tutorials, 100 KB, 3747 words

Things you probably didn't realize you could do with MT-Textile 2: • Hyperlinks for Amazon, IMDB and Google searches. For example (search term can be placed after the last ‘:', or will default to the hyperlinked text): • "James Bond":imdb:Sean+Connery becomes James Bond • "Tangerine Dream":amazon becomes Tangerine Dream • "Movable Type":google becomes Movable Type • ["MT plugins by Brad Choate":google:movable type plugin choate] becomes MT plugins by Brad Choate • Float images to the left and right; center stuff too: • !>/images/me.jpg! (floats...

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mgs | September 27th 2005