MT Migration and philosophical musing (29 posts)

  1. djblurb
    Posted 12 years ago #

    I'm sure this board is getting pounded with people who are trying out WordPress since the licensing was announced for MovableType 3.
    Count me in as one of the WordPress hopefuls. I have a site that I am trying out with WordPress 1.x. Word Press is looking to be a great project and hopefully one that will be hugely successful.
    One of the biggest differences that I see as a long-time Movable Type user is that the tag system in Movable Type is relatively easy to use and understand. It doesn't matter what language it's in for me as an end user. I learn the syntax and use the tags. I don't have to dig around to make the tag work. It just is. Sure, it isn't perfect. There are many flaws with Movable Type...
    The issue(s) that I think will slow WordPress adoption are the things that made Movable Type so popular. Movable Type's tags are simple. Their functionality is simple. While on the surface, Word Press seems simple, it appears to have some extra developer/code wiz/magic/power buried in php files. This is nice if I want to dive around and make potentially damaging edits and hack about. It is not nice if I want a tag to behave in a certain way, but discover that an assumption has been made about how I'm going to use that tag and that assumption is hard-coded.
    This is the beauty of Movable Type (and to the advanced developer, I'm sure it's biggest flaw): I get what I put into my template and no more. I have the power to use the templates and tags as I see fit (and suffer the pains if I don't follow correct syntax). It's kind of like Lego, in a way. It's blocky, but if I use the right pieces, I can build a car or a spaceship or a house.
    The same can be said for WordPress. It's Lego, but at a higher resolution. Which is great on the surface. However, I start to see that the bricks fit together only a certain way. In the case of Word Press, the tags generate extra markup. This can be a wonderful thing and wow, that's cool that the php file a couple of directories down does that. However, that approach smacks of developer-centric thinking (as opposed to developing toward stupid end user thinking, i.e. me.). The example that comes to mind is that category tag(s) in WordPress have been thought of as only used in a list form. That's great for most uses, but it closes up other uses; uses that may not even exist until some super creative person shows us all an amazing new way to use category tags. By putting a developer assumption ahead of the user, it limits the end user. I have to go through code gymnastics (and cause issues when I upgrade) by hacking buried files.
    WordPress isn't alone in this type of thinking. Textpattern doesn't (at least as of this writing) have a way to handle publish dates without a plugin. The author of Textpattern has a preference and that is to not use publish date as a navigational aid. That's his perogative, but I believe it closes off people wanting to use Textpattern for things besides blogs. It's the main reason I'm attempting to use WordPress and not Textpattern.
    I think it would behoove WordPress to open itself up (I know it's free and the source code blah blah blah) by closing itself. I'm not talking about licensing. I'm talking about how the developers view end users. I'm talking about developing for people who don't know php, and don't want to know it beyond getting their latest rant up or publishing their photos for whoever. Perhaps all it needs is some wonderful person to produce a template that is catered less to PHP and coder-centric thinking and more towards smart-ass internet publisher who might not want to know everything PHP.
    Word Press is an amazing piece of work. This isn't meant as a "WordPress sucks" diatribe. Only wondering if the developers are considering taking WordPress more mainstream? Will it continue from a developer-centric view or will the diletantte be considered as well? Will user-testing ever be a possibility? (I know WordPress is free.)
    Does WordPress want to be the online publishing tool that is easy to use and understand?
    Again, this is not meant to be a dis or a slam. I think WordPress, if development continues, can be a force to be reckoned with, letting more people have a voice and all of that. I just don't think that it will as it stands now, because as a user who's not comfortable going lo-fi (blogger, blogspot, typepad, livejournal, etc) and who knows just enough code to be dangerous I need a tool like WordPress, but feel that WordPress is more about the code than the end product that I can create with the tool.
    Maybe this should be an email to the developers instead of a post...

  2. djblurb
    Posted 12 years ago #

    Aiiight! That is AWESOME. Thanks!
    I can't believe somebody responded so quickly with something so helpful.

  3. phidauex
    Posted 12 years ago #

    Thats a good example of why this project seems to be doing well, good support from the developers, and the community. Your code can be good or bad, but a project lives or dies based on the quality of the support community. Fortunately in this case, the code is pretty good too.

  4. davidchait
    Posted 12 years ago #

    dj -
    That was a rather lengthy post. How about giving specific examples? That would help a lot!
    I think the developers have done a good job at continuing to forward the usability for the average blogger, but if you have certain things you find 'lacking', post specifics! We might know an answer already to a question you have, or it might spark a thought in someone's head of potential direction/solution. ;)

  5. Root
    Posted 12 years ago #

    You might want to install WP 1.2. Putting categories in lists is plain semantic mark up. How would you like them.?

  6. djblurb
    Posted 12 years ago #

    I would like to have the control over them from the web-based interface to use the tags as I want. I shouldn't have to dig around in files to get the tags to display how I'd like.
    When I invoke a tag, I shouldn't be surprised by what I get. There are a few other spots in WordPress that suffer from hidden markup.
    I have a project that I'm using to learn WordPress. For this project, I had used Movable Type, which I handle categories this way (with my code for one project, but spans/divs could be different:

    <div class="category"><$MTEntryCategory$></div><br>
    <div class="headline"><$MTEntryTitle$></div>
    <div class="dek"><$MTEntryExcerpt$></div>

    I know that all I'm going to get is the category for the entry being shown, the title of the entry and the excerpt of the entry. The only markup is mine. I own it and can troubleshoot it. There is no hidden CSS or PHP or anything that will be put in the rendered page. I like this functionality (Yes, I know that PHP is more powerful and can do all kinds of things). It's simple and straightforward and allows me to style the code without knowing or caring about PERL, CGI or the code behind the CMS. It's this ease of use that I'm hoping for in a CMS. It makes development faster and easier and down the road, when I become more adept, then I can start with the crazy PHP includes.
    Thanks for wading through my long-windedness.
    Does any of this make sense??

  7. djblurb
    Posted 12 years ago #

    p.s. I have installed 1.2 and there are some GREAT improvements. However, on my host, if I don't have wp installed in my public_html folder (no subfolder for wp) it doesn't work. .htaccess or not, it just doesn't work. I'm certain it's a host thing, and no big whoop, but that cost me several hours of troubleshooting.
    Also, I'm aware that the code used in how categories were treated in 1.02 is semantic markup. To be clear: That markup and the control of it is HIDDEN from me as a user. I don't like that. It means that what I see in my edit window in the interface is not a true representation of what is output. There is sorcery going on behind the scenes and I have to dig to find out it's origin.
    My feeling is that while this works for the code buddies, it does not work so well for the designer/front end person doing a site or two or seven and wanting to use a CMS. It's cool and awesome that PHP can throw in whatever tags, it's not cool that as an evaluator of the software, I have to spend time on the boards, rather than spending time making my site awesome.
    I think a more straightforward approach to tags, CSS would broaden the appeal of Word Press and make it so the developers spend less time answering long-winded nutjobs such as myself and more time making WordPress even better than it already is.
    I'm long winded because I'm trying to get a point across: I'm not a programmer and don't want to be. I'm a writer/designer. The tools I love have a respect for where I'm coming from and play to my strengths; they don't show my weakness (or the assumptions of the developers).
    And finally: I'm writing all of this, because I believe in free software. I just think most of it is written for gearheads and not for my grandma. And that is the greatest shortcoming of free. I want to use WordPress and evangelize the hell out of it; not because it's free, but because it's AMAZING.
    Thanks for your patience with these rants. I've installed WordPress three times in the past two days and re-imported 3 times and edited CSS and the template for many many hours and it's apparent after this exercise that I had to say something, rather than just walk away.

  8. Anonymous
    Posted 12 years ago #

    Well I have to say, and making all due allowances for a little unfamiliarity with the system, I have yet to find any html thrown up by WP that can't be styled. The epiphany will come. And when it does your design world will change.

  9. Anonymous
    Posted 12 years ago #

    I have to agree with dj blurb on this. I'm using a cms to catalog updates and news on an archive site so don't need many that features but was going to upgrade from blogger to movable type due to categories (I was using movable type on a personal blog). I thought I'd give wordpress a try due to MT licensing and the nice subcategory implementation.
    The site already has layout, navigation, a style sheet, content, etc.. this isn't going to be the "backbone" of it in any way. I don't need/want comments/blogroll/calendar etc. So I linked it over to the current css file and cut out unnecessary divs and php calls. Much to my frustration it doesn't display vanilla... I have to use css to display: inline; to adjust for the lists in category, certain tags have line breaks built in and others don't. Ideally it should be a jumbled one line mess and then I can easily put in line breaks etc where I want them to be. It seems counterproductive to have to add in css to negate effects that aren't intuitively there. These things can be styled out of course, the question is should they have to be?

  10. Linda
    Posted 12 years ago #

    I have just started looking at WP as an alternative to MT, and this might be one issue that would make me hesitate.
    If I understand things correctly, WP applies some markup to the code it generates apart from what is found in the supplied CSS file, rather than just generating 'plain' tags without any markup at all?
    Or am I misunderstanding what's discussed? :)

  11. Matt Mullenweg
    Posted 12 years ago #

    The category "problem" was introduced when we added support for multiple categories. Before that the tag simply echoed out. If you add a single argument to the tag (the_category(',')) it will output the list as a comma-separated string. Thanks for your feedback, keep it coming. Specific examples help.

  12. Anonymous
    Posted 12 years ago #

    I figured out the comments tag thing via looking in the wiki, much easier to edit that than worrying about the inline which gets rid of the li's but still has it indented. I was pretty startled when they popped up. As to the person who is hesitating on this... things aren't as dire as my post made them to be for the most part it doesn't seem any more intrusive than other cms / weblog solutions, the category case was special. :)
    After viewing source the "line breaks" were caused by the p tag generated around the "content" and some /div tags, not hr's, sorry about the sloppy talking. Blogger is very stupid about autoformatting which I enjoyed, the site I use MT on is a very 'weblog' looking site so I don't mind the little autoformatting it does (though that can apparently be turned off).
    This is related to my prior post but probably should be in the troubleshooting forum... anyways, is it possible to generate the date, content, and author nick/category within the same paragraph? ie would it be possible to generate a short little update listing like:
    2003-10-01 > More information about the U2 Go Home (Slane Castle) DVD release is included in our discography entry for this U2 release. Included is information about the possible limited and the regular versions planned for this U2 DVD release. [AJ - Site:Discography]
    or at least have the content and author/cat tags nested in the same p? ie:
    More information about the U2 Go Home (Slane Castle) DVD release is included in our discography entry for this U2 release. Included is information about the possible limited and the regular versions planned for this U2 DVD release. [AJ - Site:Discography]
    I realize this is a somewhat odd use for a cms, but it beats having to manually update and create archives, make sure someone isn't overwriting a file altered by another etc.

  13. Root
    Posted 12 years ago #

    Now we are getting near what this thread is really about. It is the old favourite - items in lists. This is a really common practice now (well at least amongst up to date coders ;) ) and offers fabulous advantages for subsequent styling or even unstyling. We wouldn't have it any other way (assuming we ever had a choice).
    Wp not only serves up valid xhtml (which incidentally br is not) it serves up semantic and well presented markup for any styling we want. I say this in the nicest way : It must be a wrench leaving MT. OK. But looking backwards can sometimes cloud a true appreciation of what WP really does. I don't think any of us have ever found anything which isn't done for a very good reason.

  14. Anonymous
    Posted 12 years ago #

    I learned html a bit before IE 3.02 was released... got out of it for a few years afterwards. I know how to do what I want with css, etc but don't consider myself an up-to-date coder. I have no problem with the listing format for category now that I can adapt to it (this format is obviously nice for the sidebar etc) but don't like paragraphs being forced though there may be some wondrous backend reason for this. I thought
    was a valid tag?

  15. Anonymous
    Posted 12 years ago #

    my god you're long winded. You could have said it all in 1/10 as many words. Embrace brevity. It is your friend.

  16. Anonymous
    Posted 12 years ago #

    The problem with including uncoded whitespacing in the HTML output is that you couldn't get rid of it if you didn't want it there. For example, I might want my post line to have the entry title and then the category. I should be able to control what goes in between without having to hack the program. The way it works now, it's great. If I want a new paragraph, or a div, or a span, or whatever, around or between any elements, I'm free to insert that. I can't see why you would want to hard-code something like that, as it would greatly hamper customization.
    Also, if you don't like the list output, it's very easy to use CSS to make it appear normal. Here's how I did it for the META section of the links bar, which I didn't want to appear in bulleted fashion:
    .meta ul {
    display: inline;
    margin: 0;
    padding: 0;
    list-style: none;

    To see the results, visit http://www.radicalcongruency.com

  17. Anonymous
    Posted 12 years ago #

    Well, yeah WP looks great BUT...
    Been there, done that, got an attempted smack down from some community members. Do a search, this topic has been opened and shut according to those working most on WP.
    I am still on the side of better programmatic practices for WP. A few rants below...
    There is data(content), there is structural markup(html), and there is presentation(CSS) -- the goal of building good, accessible, standards compliant sites is not to brown shirt an idea (a list of links ought to be structurally marked up on output) into existence but to separate all the layers.
    WP fails to separate (or failed to last I tried) and insists on building programmatic functions for data calls with hard coded structural markup. It's absurd to argue for this.
    I am also miffed by the documentation and depth of the template tags. It seems the depth of the template tags is hindered by some pre-conceived notions of what is proper. While it may be proper markup, IMO it is not proper programmatic practice.
    How hard does it have to be to build a separate list of post titles that are of category A while having the main body of the weblog be categories B,C,D,E,F,G,H but not category A? MT allows for this functionality simply by being flexible and generous in the verbs it gives a designer to work with...
    Perhaps it is my noobness with PHP but I really want to learn. Perhaps it is a lack of understanding of the loop and how various things interact within WP but discovering this stuff shouldn't be as tricky as it has been.

  18. djblurb
    Posted 12 years ago #

    My original reason for posting:
    WP is hard to use from a designers point of view. Forget MovableType or any other blogging app. We're talking about WordPress. It's hard to use.
    Hard heads make things that are hard to use. Always.
    Are the developers even considering the end user in terms of what is shown versus the user spending hours on support forums trying to discover what OTHER code is being generated by WP?
    What has been the cost in person-hours answering user questions based on hidden markup being generated by WP?

  19. djblurb
    Posted 12 years ago #

    Thanks Allusion.
    I'm not opposed to learning PHP calls, syntax, etc. That's one of the reasons I (and I expect many others) want to use WordPress.
    I think that some user testing wouldn't hurt WordPress. Strides are being made, and that's definitely good.
    What about people who aren't Dave Shea or Doug Bowman? I would class them as experts and the other 98% of designers somewhere below. That's why I commented in the first place. I'm glad that this dialogue has been allowed to continue...

  20. erutan
    Posted 12 years ago #

    "I think part of the problem is people are using template tags for things that aren't really templating because in other system template tags are all you have."
    Yes!! The post variables are what I was looking for (though I didn't know it at the time). Just spits out the data without touching it. It would be great to have a more integrated help system ala MT, little ?'s in the UI that lead to pop ups... they were helpful in showing me what related options there were that didn't belong in the UI itself. I know documentation in and of itself is a concern at the moment, but this would save admins and regulars from having to deal with support as much. Personally I didn't know what I needed so forum searches and some wiki browsing were enlightening but didn't give me what I wanted.
    <?php echo "$post->post_content"; ?> is what I was looking for, I was getting frustrated with<?php the_content(); ?> Since I barely know any php I'd rather deal with layout on the html/css level if possible, learning php is going to be a somewhat gradual process. :)

  21. sakamuyo
    Posted 12 years ago #

    FWIW, I was an MT user for 2 years. I was an early donor. I loved the script. But, I switched to WP in April because, in my opinion, MT was too limiting and I didn't like their templating/tag system.
    I am not a programmer, though I learn to work through the system I am using.
    I post this only as a comment that at least one end user really likes this sort of system and is quite happy with it.

  22. Matt Mullenweg
    Posted 12 years ago #

    I've been taking another look at MT's template tags, since that is your frame of reference, but I really see them as just different, not really better or worse. The PHP start and end is more verbose than MT's psuedo-tags but there are shortcuts for that in PHP. The other difference is that MT requires custom logic tags for different data where in WP the structure would always be the same. You may want to check out this article:
    The WoPre Tagging Series
    It lists some equivilents between MT and WP template tags. There's no reason this couldn't be taken to its logical conclusion with an equivilent for every relevant tag in the MT manual. Sounds like a good project for the wiki.

  23. persephone
    Posted 12 years ago #

    Just wanted to note that while I am familiar with programing, I have only very limited experience with PHP.
    All in all, I've spent more time trying to learn MT's template tags and getting MT to do what I want than I have spent learning PHP. Still, I'm having no problem adjusting to WP.
    Even if WP used template tags, they wouldn't be exactly the same or behave the same as the MT ones do. Template tags or php, either way you are going to have to get used to a new system.
    The main problem that WP has is not the php for template tags but that it's documentation isn't complete yet. Better descriptions of what some of the tags do would help a lot, but I can see that it is getting better and holes in the user docs are being filled in over time.

  24. djblurb
    Posted 12 years ago #

    Again, this is less about the logical structure of tags, but about the difficulties in bending WordPress. Here's a good read:

  25. phidauex
    Posted 12 years ago #

    Thanks allusion, for the link to variables available inside the loop. That will help me out a lot!
    Thanks for the clarification and continued discussion, its helpful. I agree that having to learn PHP to do basic design changes is a bit disheartening if someone doesn't already know PHP, but I think the user friendlyness is something that will improve with time.
    Its common to have to trade power for user friendliness, but good testing can provide a common ground that lets people who are willing to learn a little do a whole lot, which is a point things are reaching now, especially as we get more documentation.

  26. Anonymous
    Posted 12 years ago #

    thanks for all the great responses -- can't wait to dig in... I moved from MT because I knew it was limited in a way, wanted to learn more PHP rather than Perl (nothing wrong with perl but PHP is more a more accessible language to me), and WP looked great.
    Documentation will help things along and I suspect the wiki is the place to try and help.

  27. david
    Posted 12 years ago #

    Thanks dj blurb for expressing what I have felt about WP since the start, I couldn't agree with you more. Rino and phidauex have also made great points and given examples which illustrate the problem with WP from a non-php geek's POV. My own thread is another example...which I still have not really solved (help)
    Most of us love clean code, and would agree that "code is poetry". But shouldn't we be allowed to make it or break it on our own? I think it's great that the makers of WP are web standards, XHTML freaks. So am I, but I think that the WP approach is a bit extreme and that it causes a lot of problems that can't be addressed with CSS. Maybe with some preg_replace/strip/regular expression stuff, but that is out of reach for me.
    I hope the authors of WP take up this "religious" debate themselves and see where it leads. I think by providing some great "default" templates they could illustrate the value of creating clean, standards based markup without forcing it as such.

  28. Anonymous
    Posted 12 years ago #

    I think part of the problem is people are using template tags for things that aren't really templating because in other system template tags are all you have.

    To be fair, until the list of $post variables was made available on the wiki anyone could be forgiven for assuming that the function calls were all they had to work with. Personally I agree with Rino that the introduction of unnecessary markup into functions is bad practice, but at least now we purists have been informed of the alternative. Actually I find that WordPress is a lot more flexible than it initially appears to be. It just takes some digging and lateral thinking to find the best way of doing things.

  29. alexisb
    Posted 12 years ago #

    Oops, talking about fixes, I used unclose HTML list tags in my last post I broke the layout, sorry :)

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