Movable Type Documentation #mt

Presented here for your education is the Mostly Complete Movable Type Documentation (as of November 17, 2012). From my brief introduction to the 476-page compilation: > It is not my intent to present this compilation of Movable Type documentation pages as my original work. In fact, the only original piece of this document is this Introduction! > All of these documentation files are maintained at which is most certainly more up-to-date than this document lovingly collected by hand on November 17, 2012, copied-and-pasted into a Scrivener file to keep it organized and published straight to PDF from that wonderful application with its original formatting. That means it’s not perfectly formatted in book format, but it’s better than nothing. > It is my intent to provide a useful resource to the Movable Type community. When I am learning a new system, I find it helpful to have a guide that stays in context from one section to the next rather than clinking link to link to link and wandering from one guide to the next—author to designer to developer—to find what I need. > So I compiled all of those individual pages into one to help me, and share it here as a PDF to help others who think like me. I hope it helps. So there you go, warts and all. Download it here.


Movable Type: a blessing and a curse

Movable Type–updated to 5.2 just a few days ago–is a professional content management system from which to launch a blogging platform. I have no doubt it is fully capable of presenting anything an accomplished admin can imagine; however, those new to the system must overcome the scattered documentation.

A basic glossary would be helpful. The terms “styles,” “themes,” and “templates” get tossed around quite a bit. Sometimes they seem to be interchangeable while other times they seem exclusive, which adds to the confusion. Whole sections of the dashboard are devoted to creating and managing assets, yet there is no clear definition of what qualifies as an asset. The support docs include six guides (and appendices) covering:

  1. Installation
  2. Upgrading
  3. Authors
  4. Designers
  5. Administrators
  6. Developers

Sometimes the content in these five guides overlap and struggle to separate instructions for different major versions (i.e. 4.x or 5.x). Managing a website with Movable Type involves a lot more typing than drag and drop, which I appreciate and prefer, but someone needs to get a handle on documenting the basics for beginners.

I believe the support team is cursed with prior knowledge and making some leaps in logic that leave frustrated newbies behind. Again, a glossary of common terms would be a great start. As I continue to work with MT and learn more I may even begin that project myself.


Custom CSS in Movable Type 5

As I covered in my last post, I have two subdomains: one for the CaSt blog and another for linked items (actually, there’s a third for archives).
Each subdomain has its own css file. For my purposes, all three use the same code and I was trying to manage updates on all three. It struck me what a waste of effort that is when I glanced at the beginning of the default styles.css document where the main css elements are imported into the file like so:
@import url(;
My latest discovery led me to pull all of my custom css into a single file—cast.css—and import it into the root styles.css in the respective directories.
Note that you can make those changes in your text editor of choice and upload them using your preferred file transfer methods; however, you have to save and publish each of the updated pages through the Movable Type dashboards. Find the appropriate files to republish under Design → Templates, then select the Stylesheet template (styles.css).
My apologies to anyone who may be rolling their eyes at this MT newbie. I’ll move on to other more entertaining items soon. I am writing about such basics because I had such a difficult time finding helpful tutorials, and hope to help others with articles like this one.


Movable Type css with subdomains

***Update:** I spoke too soon. My initial fix did not work (see strike below. The fix that actually worked for me follows. –elb 2012-09-17 12:21:24*
Adding subdomains to my new Movable Type 5 website screwed up the links to my css stylesheets.
The fix is easy and I think it will hold up over template changes and updates, but as an MT newbie it took me a while to track down.
First, my setup here on my site looks something like this:
In the template governing the html head, the links to the stylesheets were pointing to the relative domain. This worked fine at the root level,, but broke when it moved to a subdomain (blog., and linked.).

Updating the styles.css at the root level seemed to fix my formatting problem. I changed from this:
@import url(/mt-static/themes-base/blog.css);
@import url(/mt-static/support/themes/professional-blue/professional-blue.css);
…to this:
@import url(;
@import url(;

OK, I got it. I was on the right track but in the wrong place. It ended up being a huge MT rookie oversight that was quickly repaired by updating mt-config.cgi with urls instead of relative directory paths. Now, it looks like this:
…and so far so good. I’ll let you know if I find anything else.