I promised this a few days ago, so here it is – a review of Movable Type 3.0 Developer Edition. Screenshots are included – click on them to see them full size.
Six Apart, as always,. Moving from 2.661 to 3.0 involved uploading the new files, running the mt-check.cgi script again (since there are some new optional perl module requirements) and then running the upgrade script, both of which can then be deleted from the server. The mt-check script has now been styled so it looks much nicer.
The main menu
Once you have logged in, you will be presented with the new main screen. This is a big improvement – instead of each weblog having three links (add entry, manage and delete), there are 6 which give quicker access to other functions. The public URL of the blog is also given.
On the right, a news pane, which presumably syndicates from movabletype.org, gives you the latest news; some may say this is ‘calling home’ but it is useful, I suppose. The links that were on the right are now further down the page, and now use a more friendly lower-case font.
Creating a new entry
This is the modified edit entry screen. The layout in MT3 is all controlled by stylesheets – there are no tables in here. This screenshot does show a minor bug – it still says ‘Create new entry’ even though I’ve just edited an existing one. Status messages now have a cream background.
Like all my screenshots, this was taken in Firefox in Windows XP, and as you can see the bold/italic/underline/URL buttons have finally made it over (they were an IE-only feature previously). This shot doesn’t show it, but the options at the bottom of the edit page have been re-organised and now look better.
This is the ‘Edit Entries’ screen. It isn’t much different to 2.661, so instead I’ll describe the new menu down the left side. Whereas the old one was a load of images, this one is a CSS list. The text is proper text now too, which should make translations much easier. New options are management screens for comments, trackbacks and registered commenters, which I’ll explain later.
It’s also perhaps worth pointing out that MT3 needs a 800×600 display as opposed to a 640×480 one. Thankfully this also means that those of us with larger resolutions don’t have to squint so hard at the screen now.
This is a new screen that comes as part of MT3’s new comment management system, and includes all recently received comments for all entries on that weblog. It’s quite like the mass comment deletion system that comes with MT-Blacklist, only this time integrated with the main application, and is a very welcome improvement. It does require some explaining though 🙂 .
The filter box allows you to filter the list by email address, name or IP address, so you can view all comments by a particular author. This makes removal of spam spanning multiple entries much easier. The magnifying glasses by particular entries, names and IP addresses will apply filters to that particular item. The Status column comes with the new comment registration system, and shows whether the comment has been approved or is awaiting moderation. Finally, if the poster has used Typekey, you can ban them if you don’t want them to continue commenting.
If you filter by IP address, a button to ban that IP address also appears – previously you would have to copy and paste the address into the IP banning screen.
Editing individual comments
You can still edit individual comments, and the screen to do so has received an upgrade too. You can now search for other comments with the same name, email address, URL or IP address, and there’s a link to add a comment to the entry (which takes you to the public page). If the poster used Typekey then you can’t alter the name, email or URL provided, but a big red ‘Ban User’ button does appear. You can still alter the text of their comment though.
Another new feature to MT3. This is very similar to the mass comment editor, but for editing trackbacks. Again, you can apply a filter to the page – either by ping title, excerpt or source. You can also click on an IP address of a weblog that has pinged you and filter by that. You can’t edit the pings but you can delete them en masse and block IP addresses. Trackback spam isn’t a major problem but it may be in future, so this a good bit of forward-thinking from Six Apart.
The third new screen in this release allows you to manage commenters, albeit only those who have used Typekey to post. From here you can ban people or view their profile. You can’t ban people en masse yet though. And yes, that is Anil Dash in the screenshot.
With new features comes new settings to control them, although there aren’t a huge number of new options. Archiving Preferences has a new option called ‘Use Old-Style Archive Links’ which is enabled by default on upgrades and disabled on new installs. In MT3, new weblogs default to the URL format “blogurl.com/archives/2004/05/entry_title.html”, instead of “blogurl.com/archives/000653.html”, this option lets you choose the old format if you wish.
The screenshot I’ve included features the new commenting options. The biggest change is comment moderation and registration, a la Typekey. You can select to have all new Typekey users to need approving before they can comment, or to have all non-Typekey comments to require moderation before they appear (previously you needed a hack to do this). The new options are explained well though.
All these new options does make the ‘Preferences’ page of Weblog Configuration very long – perhaps in a future release this could be split into multiple pages.
The Archive Files page in Config has been changed slightly and it’s now easier to create new archive templates.
Other new features
The emails that are sent when a new comment is posted now include an edit link, so you can modify or delete the comment much more easily. Previously, you needed MT-Blacklist for this. There’s also a nice new built-in template tag called
<MTIfNonZero> which takes a parameter of a MT tag that outputs a value (such as the number of comments in an entry). You can combine this with
<MTElse> so that you can display messages when there are no comments, for example. Before, you needed to MTIfComments or MTIfTrackbacks plugins.
As for templates, the default RSS 2.0 template is now a ‘non-funky’ version that doesn’t use any extra namespaces and simply uses native elements. It’s pretty much the same as this template provided by Brad Choate except it includes the
<link> element for better backwards compatibility. An RSS 1.0 template is still provided, and neither of the two offer full entries, only excerpts. The Atom 0.3 feed is the only to include full entries.
Having used MT3 for nearly a week now it is starting to grow on me. Some of the improvements are very good, if a little less groundbreaking than what many were expecting. Hopefully the official release of MT3 will bring these big new features.