Well no sooner had I written that I was pondering switching blogging platforms from Movable Type to WordPress than I started actually doing it. One of my many character flaws is that once I get an idea in my head I tend to go 100% all guns blazing and don’t stop until I’ve done it and this was no exception.
Having been a Movable Type user for several years I’d not paid a lot of attention to WordPress other than installing it and having a quick look at it a couple of times. Version 2.3 was coincidentally released just at the time I was thinking of moving my site so I took it as a sign to proceed.
I must say, I’m very very impressed with WordPress. Writing good software that’s easy to use, powerful and fun is very difficult. There aren’t that many people out there that can really do it. But writing good software that’s easy to use, powerful, fun and easy to extend is much harder. WordPress manages to do this very well, better than any software that I can think of. While I know PHP quite well, I hadn’t used Worpress at all yet within 4 evenings I’d managed to do the following:
- Import all my posts and comments from Movable Type
- Create a theme that looked exactly the same as the old site but used the new functionality that WordPress offers (such as improved comment handling)
- Write a plug-in that changes the WordPress WYSIWYG editor to be just the way I like it and tweak the RSS feed to be just the way I like it
- Migrate the ‘My Software‘ section of this site over to WordPress Pages – a much better way to handle things
To an experienced user of WordPress this is all pretty straightforward stuff, but I’m not an experienced WordPress user. Up until a couple of weeks ago I’d never so much as looked at the documentation or actually written a post with it. Now I’ve moved my site to a different platform, haven’t broken any links and it all seemed far too easy – which I like!
My point is that to do what I’ve achieved as a novice MT user moving from WordPress to MT would have been a far more serious undertaking (note that I’m talking about Movable Type 3.x here, I can’t comment on MT4 as I wasn’t impressed enough with it to see what’s changed under the hood). I’d have been able to import my content no problems but creating a theme is a lot harder in MT – they’re stored within the database whereas the theme files in WordPress are files in a folder making them easy to copy onto a test server where I can get things right then simply copy to my live site. With MT I’d have to do a lot of copying and pasting or database updates – not ideal. I’d probably have ended up just using the default template and tweaking that rather than using my existing lovingly created and evolved layout. Of course, some might argue that’s a good thing…
The documentation for WordPress is also worth a mention – whether you’re modifying themes, writing plugins or just trying to figure out how it all works. It can be a bit tricky to find what you’re looking for in the MT documentation (or maybe it’s just me) but the WordPress docs rock. Whenever I was stuck trying to figure something out when creating my theme or plugin the solution was easy to find and explained thoroughly. Feature-wise I think WordPress and Movable Type 4 are pretty much on the same level but I find WordPress to be faster (on my server at least) and with a far more active community in terms of themes and plugins – which is always a good sign for a product. In fact there are so many plugins out there it makes my head spin!
I know they say “a change is as good as a rest” but it’s more than that. I actually feel more inspired since installing WordPress. I can’t put my finger on why but when I log in and look at the clean, slick interface I just want to write something. Which is great news for me – but bad news for you, the poor reader. So I’ll apologise in advance and you can just blame the developers of WordPress – it’s their fault for doing such a damn fine job!