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What does it take to upgrade Movable Type?

What does it take to upgrade Movable Type? Well, I'm glad you asked. Actually it takes a lot. There are a number of details to take care of, especially considering UThink is probably the largest academic install of Movable Type 3 in America. Let's talk about a few of those details:


  • Currently there are over 7,700 blogs on the UThink system and almost 130,000 individual entries. We have to make sure all those blogs and entries are updated properly. This requires a lot of testing and migration trials to make sure we have everything right.

  • There are about 15 plugins on the UThink system that we installed over the past 5 years to increase the functionality of Movable Type. This includes plugins like BlogRoller (to create a list of links on your blog home page) and MT-Enclosures (to enable podcasting functionality on the system). Unfortunately, most of the plugins we installed on MT 3 do not work on MT 4. So, we have to track down new plugins and make sure they work with all the data put on the system with the old plugins. So far we have been successful, but we have definitely had to massage some of the data on the system. New plugins on the upgraded system will include "Link Roller," "reCaptcha," and the "Podcasting Plugin," just to name a few.

  • One of the more unique features of UThink is that it is tied to the U of M Internet ID and password system (x.500). Obviously this functionality does not come "out-of-the-box." So, we have had to take a our old code for central authentication, tweak it a little, and make sure that it works for Movable Type 4. So far so good!

  • Along those same lines, Movable Type 4 offers a lot of new functionality in terms of the types of web sites you can create through the system: Classic Blogs, Community Blogs, Community Forums, or Professional Websites. Testing this functionality out, and making sure that it works with the U of M Internet ID and password system, plus making sure that people without a U of M Internet ID and password can participate when appropriate, has been a challenge.

  • Finally, much of the functionality from MT 3 to MT 4 has changed. For example, adding users to a specific blog to allow them to author or manage that blog has changed. The workflow has changed and new code is required to make it work with the Internet ID system. Essentially, rather than adding a new user to Movable Type, we want Movable Type to assume a user has already been created through the U of M. That way when a user is added to the system an account does not need to be created by hand in Movable Type. Make sense? No? Well, regardless, we will have to provide new documentation on this workflow, and other workflows, to make sure UThink users can do what they expect to be able to do.

Over the next few weeks I'll delve into these issues a little more. I just wanted to let all of you know that we are working hard to make sure all your blogs and content is upgraded properly, and that all the functionality you currently have now is also available in the new system.

Of course, let me know if you have any questions!