Movable Type is a great tool for creating personal sites (and some other types of sites as well), mainly due to its flexible template system and its many features like trackback, image upload & write functionality, sanitizing,….
Regular readers — are there any? — of this site know that I did not need a lot of time to set up this site. However, I still keep on tweaking parts of the site to make it even better. It started with converting the templates from XHTML 1.0 to XHTML 1.1. After that I moved a little bit around with the different items shown on the pages, and adjusted the style sheet. And soon I ran into the limits of Movable Type. Some things are simple not possible, are they? Fortunately, I am never the only one facing the limitations, and usually one of the guru’s out there solved the problem for me, always with a plugin. Plugins are the feature making MT such a great tool. If MT cannot do it, there is always a plugin that can do it for you!!!
The following list describes the plugins I am using at the moment, and why I am using them:
I could have created the functionality of this plugin by using a template module, but this is simply easier. BlogCopyright automatically creates the copyright message at the bottom of each page. It uses the year of the first and the last post and the author of the first message on the page. This means that I don’t have to change anything when we enter the year 2004.
This is more a programmers tool. It allows me to hide certain elements when they are empty. I use it in the definition of the file location of my Static Contents section. There, the category gives me the directory in which the file is placed. If there is no category, the file has to be placed in the root of the site.
Another tool to automate things. I use this plugin to create automatically the right code for some common abbreviations and acronyms. For example,
<abbr title="Movable Type">MT</abbr>. By the way, the macros are automatically created from a short list using the MTPerlScript plugin (idea shamelessly stolen from Mark Pilgrim).
Normally the sections are completely separated; you cannot access data like the name or the contents from an entry from outside a section. I am using a special section to manage my static contents, but would like to use some elements like the banner from my main sectionin the templates of the static contents. This plugin allows me to do this.
Again a very low-level plugin. This plugin allows me to execute Perl scripts from my templates. I use it to create my yearly archive pages, since MT only offers monthly archives. I am writing since 1997, so the list of monthly archives is way too long, therefore I created the yearly archive pages.
There are two ways to react to my writings: you can leave a comment, or you can write about it on your own site and notify me using TrackBack. By default, MT keeps them separated, providing a list of comments and a list of trackbacks. In my point of view, comments and trackbacks are basically the same, but in different places. Therefore, I prefer to have a single comments list, with both the comments residing on my site as the comments written on other sites. SimpleComments does this for me.
Smartypants fixes the typographic punctuation of my entries. It converts straight quotes ( " and ' ) into “curly” quote HTML entities, dashes (“
--” and “
--”) into en- and em-dash entities and three consecutive dots (“
...”) into an ellipsis entity. Just to make it more perfect…