Heal Your Church WebSite

Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

Proof of Concept Part Deux

Okay, we ran into a snag – a rather significant one that is going to preclude me from proving my concept of using the blogging tool pMachine to manage a church web site’s content. You can read all about the bug in PHP 4.2.3 that is giving me gas – and putting me at odds with my host provider who can’t recompile without putting the servers at risk. They’re dealing with a CPanel bug of their own.

Around the time I ran into this brick wall, I received the following comment from Luke at Anglican Media Sydney who writes:

Yes, just use MT + editize (or similar, but not those horrible MSHTML things), its fab… as you know :) With the huge community support, all the plugins [1] its a pretty sure bet. Weakness: doesn’t page category/date archives.

All the nuke/portal apps are pretty icky, except for drupal [2] which has some neat features. It’s not very customisable beyond the portal look though.

ez publish 2.2.x [3] is excellent (imo) for article management but there’s a moderate learning curve. It has a lot of intranet features too, plus is quite customisable (but requires a fair amount of work). Look out for v3, with a beta in a few weeks I guess, final a few weeks after that. ezp v3 [4] should be *awesome* – but probably overkill for your needs. It archives things chronologically, but doesn’t do date based archiving (eg by month etc) ala blogging tools. Has neat article indexing and sitemap tools, and you can give each section its own look and feel etc.

People [5] also seem to like WebGUI [6]. There’s also plone [7] to consider, but it seems too esoteric for a church web site, imo.

Otherwise, cmsinfo.org [8] is your friend!

But just use MT… you know you want to ;P

[1] http://www.bradchoate.com/past/cat_movable_type.php
[2] http://www.drupal.org/
[3] http://ez.no/
[4] http://ez.no/article/articleview/383/
[5] http://makeashorterlink.com/?O23115532
[6] http://www.plainblack.com/webgui
[7] http://plone.org/
[8] http://cmsinfo.org/

Kinda hard to argue with a guy who documents his comments! And he’s right about MT – yeah I suppose I do want to. In part because I know it … in part because I think Doug Walker REALLY got my attention when he said he implemented FrontPage because the church staff knows Word – and FrontPage works like Word – which means it works well for the non-geek speaking individuals who need to maintain portions of the site. So I got to thinking, hmmm … if I use MovableType, then I can probably get away with offering the staff w:bloggar … though I suppose I could actually implement Word if I had to.

Considering my host provider isn’t going to recompile PHP until a new version is released and stable, I’m compelled to use what works for me, MT. So I set up a mySql database, then I FTP the brand-spanking new version of MovableType, then water-bucket it over to my server (via FTP), then via an SSH session, I proceed to:

# — create data directory for MT
cd $HOME
mkdir mtdata
chmod 777 mtdata

# — create a directory that will contain external template files
cd $HOME/www
mkdir templates
chmod 777 templates

# — unzip/untar the distribution file, rename the directory
tar -zxvf $HOME/MT-2.5-full-lib.tar.gz
mv MT-2.5-full-lib mt
cd $HOME/www/mt

# — move stuff around into their appropriate directories
mv index.html index.php
mv docs images index.php styles.css $HOME/www
cd $HOME/www
chmod 777 images index.php styles.css -R
cd $HOME/www/cgi-bin
mv $HOME/www/mt .
cd mt

# — modify documents to taste
pico mt.cfg
pico mt-db-pass.cgi

# — create locations for multi blogs which will be site sections
cd $HOME/www
mkdir About_Us
mkdir Events
mkdir Directions
mkdir Ministries
mkdir Resources
mkdir Sermons
mkdir Youth
chmod 777 About_Us Events Directions Ministries Resources Sermons Youth

As you can see, towards the end, I was setting up my directories that will become individual blogs. Within each of those blogs will be individual articles that will make up the web pages. The exceptions to this being the Events, Youth and the Sermons blogs which will operate more like your conventional blog.

Do I need to mention that those of you trying this should have access to a copy, and should have read through at least once, the movabletype install documentation? Not only to figure out how to modify your configuration files (all that pico stuff), but also what to do once you’ve completed the above steps.

Now its time to roll out my new copy of DreamWeaver MX, and create some templates that don’t look like a blog – while avoiding the 7 deadly sins (or even MORE 7 deadly sins) of church web design!


  1. ewwww… WYSIWYG editors. Give me BBedit anyday. Did you think of any of the open source blogging systems, like oh I don’t know… b2? Blogapp works with it, and I am sure some others, and it doesn’t bork sites like *cough* MT *cough* does.

    Oh well


    PS when are we going to do something with the meta data we have tagged?!

  2. I tried plone/zope once. While it looked pretty and did the basic things well, it was hard to customise to what I wanted to have it do. I figured I had better things to do than learn yet another new language.

  3. Good move Dean :)

    Just a few points and some clarification for anyone following this:

    - I’m also looking forward to the release of w.bloggar 3, but I don’t think it’s true WYSIWYG is it? I haven’t used v2 so I’m not too sure…

    - editize, afaik, seems to be the only inline wysiwyg editor to handle some MS word formatting, without littering the docutment with hidious MS markup, eg:

     <p class=MsoPlainText><span
    style=’mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>22
    <BR>        October
    </span><span style=’mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘><![if
    !supportEmptyParas]></span><span style=’mso-fareast-font-family:”MS
    Mincho”‘>This is one paragraph<o:p></o:p><br>

    …but it requires the latest java d/l which is ~8mb, and its commercial.

    There’s a good list of wysiwyg editors here:

    Also, composIte for Moz looks somewhat promising:

    The state of wysiwyg editors is quite poor atm – there’s no real killer app, esp as far as Word compatibility goes, which is a shame. Xopus, bitflux, and soonish eZ all have inline xml editors developed/in progress, hopefully when these mature we’ll have good wysiwyg capabilities.

    To clarify my comments about ez publish, when I said “ezp v3 [4] should be *awesome* – but probably overkill for your needs. It archives things chronologically, but doesn’t do date based archiving (eg by month etc) ala blogging tools. Has neat article indexing and sitemap tools, and you can give each section its own look and feel etc.”

    “It archives…” refers to v2.2.x, not v3. v3 is a complete rewrite, but the ez crew are keeping features and release dates etc very close to their chest, I don’t know what it will be like, but I’m expecting very good things.

    On another note, if someone/people plan on creating a church web management system, it would be really, *really* cool if you worked off an exisiting code base, eg plugins for MT, modules for eZ, or drupal etc. The wheel has already been invented many, many times before :)

    That said, if you are planning on doing something open source, good on you regardless! :)


    PS. Our new anglican media web site is only a couple of weeks off, Dean I’ll let you know when it’s up, I just hope my hands/arms hold out… stupid rsi :(

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