Recent Entries in Movable Type

For those of you using Movable Type as your blogging platform, there's an interesting, and rarely talked about feature called Boilerplates in version 5+. In this article, I'll give you a quick tip on how to get them working, and what they're good for.

I noticed this feature a couple of times, but couldn't figure out how to make them work. To be honest, I wasn't sure what it was for, except that it somehow created boilerplates, as if that weren't obvious.

But what's a boilerplate? And why is it useful, especially in this CTRL+C/CTRL+V world? Well, if you're doing any kind of blog collaboration, and multiple authors consistently need to enter the same information (such as tour dates, upcoming events, or even advertising), boilerplates are the thing to use.

Also, if you're an editor/webmaster, and you have to enter in articles from a variety of authors, boilerplates can be used for author bylines. Check out this guy's byline. I bet he uses a boilerplate.

But Movable Type has always been a little cagey with their documentation, and it's regularly been up to users and message boards to fill in the gaps. MT's website docs for Boilerplates is one page, and here's what you get:

Once saved, Boilerplates can be inserted into any desired blog entry. Let's practice inserting a Boilerplate Text.

Go to the blog entry creation screen and insert the Boilerplate Text. Finish by replacing the filler text with actual information.

Oh good, you just have to insert the Boilerplate Text. That should be easy. Thanks documentation guys.


So here's how to do it properly (with pictures):

1. Find Boilerplates under your Entries tab in the left side of your Movable Type editor. If it's not there, you're probably using an older version of MT, which isn't supported. Sorry. You can probably stop reading now.

boilerplates_movable_type_1.jpg


2. Edit your boilerplate text. This can be a combination of rich text, HTML, images, other media, whatever. It's a pretty powerful interface. In my case, I wanted to do an author byline. I put a head shot in there, a horizontal rule, and a short blurb. Make the text pretty, and save.

boilerplates_movable_type_2.jpg


3. Here's the tricky part, the part MT didn't feel like telling you. Boilerplates are used when editing or creating new Entries. In the Entry window, there's an icon in the toolbar. It looks like a page of text with a picture in the top left corner. Maybe it's a newspaper icon. Only if you hover over it with the mouse does it tell you anything about its purpose. This is your boilerplate icon. Put your cursor where you want the text to go, click the icon, select your boilerplate from a drop-down list, and the text goes in.

boilerplates_movable_type_3.jpg

The text is just raw HTML, not an auto-updating variable, so if you want to move it around at all, you've got to select the entire block. This also means that if you later update your boilerplate text, you can't simply rebuild the Entry. You'll have to find the block of text, delete it, and replace it by clicking on the icon again. An auto-updating variable would have been cool, but what can you do?


4. Once the text is in place, save your Entry (boilerplates can only be used in Entries, apparently ... it would have made sense to allow them in Pages as well, but whatever). Your Entry will now display the added text. It's also going to show up in your Main Index, so if you're using boilerplates for bylines, insert them into the Extended tab of your Entry, and they won't clutter up your main page. Repetitive text on the main page, especially with bylines and author bios, really messes up the look.

boilerplates_movable_type_4.jpg

Hopefully this dispels the mystery of what boilerplates are and how you use them in Movable Type. They can be quite useful when having to copy over a lot of repetitive text and images, but especially useful if you have a multiple author situation, and need to enforce uniformity for those special blocks of information.

I could have just tweeted this post from Writer's Life.org, but that wouldn't have brought anyone to my blog.

Ah, I kid. But, there's some good information in this article. The best advice is this:

Keep them short and sweet - screen readers tend to like to skim read rather than read an entire piece. If your blog posts are all pages and pages long then people will be put off by the idea of reading them. They'll want the information, but won't want to have to invest all that time getting to the end of your blog to get it.

How-To-Get-Traffic-To-Your-Blog-600x314.jpg

(via www.writerslife.org)

  Turning Fifteen

A test entry.

It's been a while since I've posted anything. Can you blame me? This blog's been going on for fifteen years.

Whoa, has it been that long?

  Merging Blogs

Taking all my Zuckervati blogs and merging them up in the dot-com domain. Hopefully, this will make it a bit easier for me and for anyone trying to navigate the pages.



  Test Entry for New Blog

Here is some text... Working on merging the various blogs together into one mega-blog with an easy URL.

Here's a picture:

honeycomb.jpg

Here's some text in a blockquote:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Proin hendrerit turpis id sapien blandit malesuada. Morbi massa nunc, eleifend sed ullamcorper ut, consequat scelerisque sapien. Aliquam pharetra mi vitae metus lacinia quis varius nisi tristique. Integer nec dolor sed eros bibendum euismod. Donec nec augue at risus placerat condimentum eu ut massa. Phasellus sit amet libero ut ante facilisis dictum vel eu lacus.
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  Excuse the mess

Just trying on a few new styles. Sprucing up the old place, so to speak.


  Blogging is Not Dead

And here's a picture of a keyboard to prove it.

Seriously, though. I suck at blogging these days.



  PostOffice Plugin Test

Trying to get the moblogging operational again. This was a fun part of the blog.



  New server seems fine

Had to replace the cd-rom drive, but otherwise, it's totally schway.



  Still online?

Had a massive motherboard failure on my box, which was essentially a desktop machine crammed into a 4-u rack mount chassis. I originally thought the power supply was dead, but when I replaced the unit, the machine still wouldn't start. Turned out the board was completely fried, though not the fault of the hosting provider, I assume, despite the fact that a number of servers in the same cabinet are stricken with a tendency to all crash simultaneously.

So, to keep the site up, at least in a zombie state (with no updates since December), I piggy-backed the whole shebang on another nearby server which has had no crashes in the last year.

I've also found another, this time more professional, server: a gently-used IBM x345 box with several built-in redundancies, which should keep the websites going fine.

I'm still working through some configuration twists and turns, but we should be back to normal in a little while.

I've been online for better than 10 years now, so it's safe to assume I'm here for the foreseeable future.

  Back to Normal

No beard, no 'mo. Just my usual handsome self.

back_to_normal.jpg

This reCAPTCHA code is getting harder and harder to fill in. Found this in my comments section.

integral_sign_captcha.jpg

So .... does it want me to solve for x?

Found another probem with the Post Office plugin for Movable Type: you can't include any kind of punctuation characters in the subject line of your email message/entry title, otherwise it will munge the image file name that goes along with it.

Granted, the Post Office plugin isn't to blame for this, since it won't rename the image at all; this was functionality I had to add in later. So, really, it's my own fault.

Well, it's fixed now. Weird chars are replaced with underscores.



  Testing Polaroid Image

Now that I have the old-timey image thing tuned, let's try making it look like a Polaroid picture.

I miss Polaroids.


Trying to reduce the image size and geometry from 580k and 2048x1536 to under 100k and no bigger than 500x500.



More testing of sending an image through the Post Office plugin for
Movable Type. Trying to resize the picture and make it look like an old
photo.


Testing sending an image through the Post Office plugin for Movable Type.
Renaming the image to the message subject line/entry title, and adding a
.png extension.


Testing again, this time with the homegrown script.



Testing 23 Email Blogging

Testing out a post-via-email plugin.

I've been using the MT-Twitter plugin for a while now, so that when updating the MissingLinks page, a corresponding twitter posting is made. It used to be using bit.ly to shorten the URLs (prior to the big server crash, I was using icanhaz.com, but lost all my code when the RAID controller on the server failed). Sometime in mid-November, the bit.ly URLs just disappeared, making me thing something went wrong on twitter's API. Either that, or something went wrong on my server, which I hadn't even touched that month.

So, I looked around for some suitable Perl code to re-introduce the bit.ly API calls that mysteriously went missing. The answer was a chunk of code from openclue.org (now apparently defunct). I'm reposting it here, so it might help someone out (myself included -- I'm backing stuff up properly now).

The twitter.pl script just needs a few extra lines. I inserted this code just after the "my $intro" line in the _update_twitter function:

my $bitly = LWP::UserAgent->new;
my $url_response =
    $bitly->get("http://bit.ly/api?url=" . $obj->permalink);
my $small_url;
if($url_response->is_success) {
   $small_url = $url_response->content;
} else {
   $small_url = $obj->permalink;
}

Then you have to update the part of the script which creates the twitter message. Replace the original $text string with the $small_url string:

# my $text = $intro . $entry->title . ' ' . $obj->permalink;
my $text = $intro . $entry->title . ' ' . $small_url;

Presumably, you can use any URL shortener API you want -- just insert the proper API call. Or, if you're enterprising, make your own URL shortener. That way, you own all the links.

Someone even came up with an idea to use .htaccess 301 redirects to bounce a link ending with <mt:EntryID> to the proper <$mt:EntryLink$>. Of course, this really only works if your domain name is short to begin with.


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Recent Entries

  • Using Boilerplates in Movable Type

    For those of you using Movable Type as your blogging platform, there's an interesting, and rarely talked about feature called Boilerplates in version 5+. In...

  • How To Get Traffic To Your Blog

    I could have just tweeted this post from Writer's Life.org, but that wouldn't have brought anyone to my blog. Ah, I kid. But, there's some...

  • Turning Fifteen

    A test entry. It's been a while since I've posted anything. Can you blame me? This blog's been going on for fifteen years. Whoa, has...

  • Merging Blogs

    Taking all my Zuckervati blogs and merging them up in the dot-com domain. Hopefully, this will make it a bit easier for me and for...

  • Test Entry for New Blog

    Here is some text... Working on merging the various blogs together into one mega-blog with an easy URL. Here's a picture: Here's some text in...

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