[16 Jul 03] Matt Haughey's tutorial on using Movable Type templates to maintain static pages must have fired off a rogue neuron somewhere, because I've finally realised how to get past one of my long-standing obstacles to making better use of MT—and the answer has been staring me in the face all along. It has less to do with his particular angle than with those numbers appearing at the end of each permalink.

I'd been so conditioned by years of using Blogger-generated entry IDs as anchor names that I blithely carried on the practice after switching to MT. Every new entry increases MT's internal entry count by one, to the point where it's now up to five hundred.

The problem is that if you run more than one blog on the same install of MT, a new entry in any one of them increments the same central count. So blog A gets entry number 345, blog B gets 346, A gets 347 through 349, and so on. Fine. But when you export your blogs so that you can re-import them after a crash or change of server, you export each one separately, and the entangled entry IDs get lost. Then when you rebuild them your permalinks get screwed up, because the entries get imported in a different order and assigned different IDs. Not very perma.

If you run several MT blogs off the same database, you end up dangerously reliant on the continuity of your existing set-up. Unless—you don't use MT entry IDs in permalinks. You use something that won't change: a time stamp, or the entry title, or whatever you like (if you have an otherwise unused MT field to store it in). Even if all the entry IDs change after a re-import, it won't matter.

It's so obvious, I can't believe I didn't see it before. Now I really can run every changing part of the site using MT, and not just the bloggish bit. Which is handy, because I had a fairly major addition in mind.


[ 6 Jan 03] Owen has outlined his new approach to dealing with lingering Netscape 4 users. Elegant, as always. I'd grown dissatisfied myself with the downsides of using an upgrade message—repetitive advertising is annoying—and over time had pulled it off all but a few pages. With this latest redesign, I'd left it off everything except the main index page. After further consideration, I've taken it off even that.

It's almost two years since JZ came up with his clever ploy, and times have changed. Yes, CSS-styled pages like this one still break badly on Netscape 4, but that browser is now five years old, and its users will know that there are newer alternatives, if only because old software looks dated alongside newer software. As for those who are forced to use NN4 in uni labs or public libraries, seeing an upgrade notice doesn't help them much. The broken (but readable) appearance of this page in NN4 should be enough of an indication that it isn't the appearance intended.


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