Moving from Movable Type to WordPress

 I have been using Movable Type to run my blog for years. It is not the simplest blogging system (Blogger wins that award) but I liked the extra features you get, even though you have to work hard for them. The new MT4 release is quite different from earlier releases. I installed it last December then dug in and figured out the template system, the widgets, the style sheets and was pretty happy with it. I ran my Cotswolder blog on it for the first months of 2008.

My main complaint with Movable Type is the overdone styling – divisions inside of divisions inside of divisions (divisionitis). It takes forever to figure out the stylesheet. I like the sidebar widgets, but they are complicated and have to be defined in HTML – there is no easy to use interface.

Last weekend, after spending three days working on the Movable Type stylesheet and widgets so I could move my “Views from the Slow Lane” blog from slowtrav.com (my old site) to sloweurope.com (my new site) I reached my limit with Movable Type. It was over a silly issue that I could have resolved – creating a page to show all entries for a category instead of their default page which shows only recent entries – but instead I stomped my feet, screamed in anguish, ate some chocolate, then downloaded WordPress. Then I spent three days setting up the stylesheet and templates for WordPress. Nothing comes easy on the web.

Views from the Slow Lane
Views from the Slow Lane

Yes, everyone uses WordPress, everyone loves WordPress. WordPress is free (you have to license Movable Type). Everyone has been telling me this for years, but I was committed to Movable Type. When you spend weeks learning a template system, you have a committment to the product.

Now I am happy. WordPress has a stylesheet that makes sense to me – similar to the ones I create for my sites. WordPress is written in PHP (Movable Type is in Perl) which I know a bit. I can easily read the templates. They use server-side includes like I do on my sites. Their whole system is easy to figure out and the install literally took five minutes (using their “Install in 5 Minutes” instructions).

I have a few more things to tweak and then I will be ready to launch my old blog on a new platform and a new website!


Because “nothing is perfect”, I do have a few complaints which I am documenting here for other WordPress blogers.

  • Can’t see permalink pages unless you are logged into WordPress. When I imported my Movable Type blog, WordPress set the “post status” field to “Publish” when it should be “publish”. Uppercase “P” instead of lowercase. If I was logged into WordPress, this did not affect the blog. If I was not logged in and clicked on the permalink or the comments link I got a 404 page not found error. So, if you import a blog into WordPress and you cannot see your permalink pages when you are not logged in (the page with one entry and the comments), then go to the MySQL database to change the “post_status” field from “Publish” to “publish” (using a SQL query in phpMyAdmin).
  • You cannot work on your widgets in the WordPress Admin section on Internet Explorer. You have to use FireFox. Some features do not work in IE.

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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.

One thought on “Moving from Movable Type to WordPress”

  1. Pauline,

    We made the switch from MT years ago to WP for similar reasons. With the latest release of WP, I’ve come to appreciate how customizing my site can be done with relative ease either using a custom CSS or a bit of script. I seldom find myself digging elbow deep into HTML like the good ol’ days.

    The new site looks like the migration went well, even if it was a while to get it “just so”!

    Happy blogging and slow traveling!

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