March 03, 2005
Movable Type to Typepad
Posted by Gordon Smith

As we have made the transition from Movable Type to Typepad over the past week, I have learned a lot about Typepad and benefited greatly from the Typepad Users Forum, as well as many blog accounts. This is my modest effort to share some insights on the move, in the hope that I can be of some assistance to others.

First, some positives. Because Movable Type and Typepad are based on the same software, our templates transferred fairly seamlessly. (Actually, I may be exaggerating that. When we first made the move, the templates contained some sort of error and none of our posts displayed in the main column of the blog, even though they would appear on the list of "Recent Entries" in the sidebar. I consumed several hours rebuilding the templates, and eventually achieved the desired results. Despite this little snafu, I was pleased that almost all of the style and function codes transferred without incident.) We wanted to retain our url, which required domain mapping, but Todd at ai made that look easy. (We had one wrinkle caused by dropping the "weblogs" extension from our prior url, but we simply kept the base url -- <> -- and redirected any links to our old extension.)

The biggest benefits of the move: (1) we restored Trackbacks and the option to open comments, both of which we had removed at the old site because of spam problems (my experience has been that Typepad offers relatively easy and effective anti-spam protection); (2) our site is now attracting search engine traffic, which we expect will increase once all of our entries are spidered (in a problem that was probably unique to our old site and not a reflection on Movable Type, we could not get our entries to display properly in search engines, and we received almost zero visitors from search engines at the old site); and (3) technical assistance from Typepad Support (they have been extremely helpful in answering my questions during the move).

Ok, enough kudos. Now the bad stuff. We have had two problems with the conversion, but only one reflects badly on Typepad.

(1) Author attribution in multi-author blogs. When we moved the site to Typepad, all of the posts were attributed to me as owner of the site. When I inquired with Typepad Support about correcting the attributions, I received this response:  "Unfortunately, at the current time, there's not really a way to change the author on the posts except to either edit them to include a byline in the post itself or to have each author re-enter them. We're aware of this shortcoming and our development team are working on a better solution." Are you kidding? We have over 1,000 posts on this site, and the best you can do is tell us to re-enter them? I must say that I am very disappointed that Typepad does not provide a fix for this obvious problem, and I never dreamed of inquiring about such a problem because it is so obviously deficient. In response, we have been going through the posts manually and changing them. All of your guest bloggers' posts are now properly attributed, and we have done the last two weeks of Christine's posts. Only two and a half months of posts to go! Argh!

(2) The sideblog. Just prior to our decision to move, we had introduced a sideblog for quick links. I enjoyed that feature, but we found that the usual method of setting up a sideblog in Typepad would not work for us because we had mapped our domain. That usual sideblog method relies on a "virtual include" command, which requires a relative reference to the sideblog. It does not allow absolute references; therefore, the sideblog cannot work with domain mapping. If it did, then the sideblog could be located anywhere. For example, you could have a Blogger-based blog included on a Typepad blog. As explained by Typepad Support:

There's a basic incompatibility with domain mapping and includes. Our servers are configured to only allow relative paths in include statements. This is to prevent content from being pulled from other, non-TypePad sites. However, domain mapping makes it appear that a different domain name is being used. Thus if a person goes to your site via then the include statement is looking for a file located at:

The best workaround is to change your domain mapping so that your domain name is mapped to your entire site, not just to a specific weblog. In this case, the same domain name will be used for all your weblogs and files, and relative paths will work again.

We are not doing the workaround because Law & Entrepreneurship News operates on the same Typepad site (, and I don't want that to become a subsidiary of Conglomerate. This is not a Typepad problem, and they provided a perfectly reasonable fix. (But I would still like to have my sideblog back, and Todd has suggested the possibility of an RSS fix, so stay tuned.)

All in all, I think the move has been a success, though not without some growing pains. For the positive reasons listed above, I am confident that several months from now we will look back on this as a turning point in the life of this blog.

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