by Mike Shea on 5 January 2003
I spent this morning moving all of my content from LoralCiriclight.Com over to MovableType. The transition wasn't as hard as I thought. In about two hours I had moved over 40 HTML pages from their static versions over to MovableType.
The main advantage of this included the following:
Better control over HTML doctype declarations (now XHTML 1.0 Strict) Ability to easily add new Accessibility features. See Dive Into Accessibility for an easier list. Ability to publish new stories over the web. No more FTP. Ability to change standards later. It's not perfect, but it's easier. Consolidation of publication methods between Mikeshea.net and loralciriclight.com. Now I write the same way for both. Was instantly able to incorporate <link rel="start" href="http://loralciriclight.com/" title="Home" /> style menu options. Read Day 9 of Dive Into Access ability for more info. Got to add forward and back URLs into every story automatically. This allows a reader to jump from story to story without returning to the index. Also incorporated keyboard shortcuts. Pressing ALT 2 and ALT 3 jumps forward and back respectively. Pressing ALT 1 goes to the homepage. See Day 15 of Dive into Accessibility.
There are still some problems with this new publication method:
True content abstraction is a pipedream. I still have some formatting inside the embedded images. Most of it is just P tags. Spellchecking still has to happen somewhere else. Right now i'll cut and paste into HTML Kit. Machine-based URLs. I lost my nice descriptive URLS (http://loralciriclight.com/fear.html) for machine-based URLs that aren't descriptive at all (http://loralciriclight.com/000076.html). This one really bugs me. Tied to a single tool. Movabletype does save everything as static HTML so I am in no danger of losing data, but now it's all wrapped around a single tool. Movabletype is the best web publisher I have seen, though, so this isn't much of a problem. I had to spend my Sunday morning dorking with web pages with almost no noticeable difference to the readers.
A note about URL longevity: One very important note is that none of my URLs were broken in this transition. By using the RewriteRule features of .htacces and Mod Rewrite I was able to tie every one of the 40 or so old URLs to the new ones. This meant that http://loralciriclight.com/nightmare.html and http://loralciriclight.com/000093.html point to the exact same file. Every time you post a webpage you gain a responsibility to maintain that URL for ever. Nothing is more unprofessional than breaking old URLs. My number one rule going into this backend move was not to break any old URLs and I succeeded by using .htaccess. Cool URLs Don't Change. Oh, and don't break the back button either by using metadata redirects.
Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @mshea on Twitter. If you enjoyed this article, please bookmark and use this link to Amazon.com for your next online purchase.