Back in December, I put together a script for converting RightFields data to CustomFields. This was mostly for me, but I had a few people request this sort of thing, and I had grown tired of doing it by hand, since I'm inherently lazy. There were two problems with this script. The first was that it didn't do data stored in custom SQL datasources. Unfortunately it was just too hard to figure out. That's not to say that I couldn't make it work, but I wasn't able to do it in an automated fashion.

The second problem was that it left out a few people who had some data that they might want: Namely those with data stored in file fields (usually a file name, such as that you might use for an image). These fields can be somewhat complex, but if it's just a name, then it's not typically a problem in converting the data. So it may be okay to convert it. Still, you should probably be aware that a one-to-one conversion of this sort does have some potential pitfalls. The most common was that CustomFields doesn't have an upload option, but you also can't do things like extra file path information. So if you decide you want to convert the filename, you should be aware of these potential downfalls. It's better than nothing, however.

When Six Apart released Movable Type 4.1, with it they released an entirely new commenting architecture. And technically, the foundation was laid with

To build a community, you need your visitors to comment on your site. Unfortunately when you do that, you open up your site to others who you might not want to come calling - namely spammers, who will leave all sorts of garbage on your (virtual) doorstep. While we probably won't ever be able to get rid of them, managing spam feedback is a completely bearable process.

Depending on who you ask, you're likely to get a wide variety of answers on the best avenue to take when it comes to plugins to use or configuration directives to take in the fight against spam. You'll see names like Akismet or Defensio mentioned, and plugins such as MT-Approval and Tiny Turing thrown into the mix. Some will tell you that you need a CAPTCHA and some will tell you that there's just no way to win. In the end, you don't really need much more than a little creativity and some patience.

If you use Movable Type, there's a good chance that you use plugins. And if you took the plugin survey, there's a good chance that you use a plugin to add extra fields to your installation: Roughly one-third of people polled used either CustomFields or RightFields to provide some additional breathing room in your installation.

To make matters more interesting, the combined plugins accounted for roughly a third of the votes for being rolled into the core package, and easily bested all other plugins when it came time to choose just one plugin to install. The problem all along has been that there are two ways to add extra fields to your site. The announcement that CustomFields is now going to be part of Movable Type just makes it more complex - especially if you're a user of RightFields. Until now.

I haven't done a lot of work with Apache Tomcat previously, so when someone asked if they could install Movable Type, I had to do a bit of digging to see if it was possible. The answer is actually yes - but it's not the most intuitive installation. Most steps are fairly simple, but making the pieces work can be challenging.

Getting Perl up and running under Tomcat isn't difficult - just dropping the files into a directory seems to make them work. But to make Movable Type work, you need more than just Perl - you need MySQL. That's where the trouble comes in and things get a little dicey.

Over on Learning Movable Type, Jaclyn asked why she wasn't able to get tags imported to a new MT4 installation. While Movable Type 4 includes an entry's tags in the import specifications, and also exports those tags when saving the data, no prior versions have exported the tags, even though tags have been natively supported since MT 3.3x. Luckily, it's easy to get them.

First, make a backup of from your original Movable Type installation, which is the Perl module that handles the export. Do this because you want to make sure that you have a good copy, just in case something goes awry. Put this backup in a safe place, and work with the copy of the file, just in case. Ready? Good.

As is fairly common, there has been a good amount of talk about how blogs manage to scale recently, and what has been interesting to see is the discussion around just what it is that is required to keep things running.

Let's assume that you've decided not to go with a hosted solution, so first you'll need a good host, and you should consider some other issues about setting up your domain too. After that, you'll need to choose your blog software.

There are what seem to be thousands of choices, but ultimately it boils down to two: Movable Type and Wordpress. Tim, among others, likes to post pictures of Wordpress failing, but what isn't often mentioned is that Movable Type can fail in the wrong situations too. Let's see why.

If your Movable Type installation uses extra fields and you want to use MT4, then at this point, you really only have one option - Custom Fields. The plugin, currently in something of a perpetual beta because Arvind is in the US for school, allows you to easily add fields to just about any object in the system. It's actually quite nice.

But if you have already been using Custom Fields, you might find yourself in a bit of a pickle when it comes to upgrading your data and you've found that the data you have been trying to keep from losing is suddenly no longer there. Luckily, the upgrade path isn't a bad one, nor is it particularly painful. You just have to be very careful when you decide to upgrade your installation.

While it seems that the Yahoo! Small Business web hosting packages continue to offer Movable Type as an option, and there has been some talk about Yahoo! not supporting MT4, while Six Apart doesn't really seem to support MT4 at Yahoo!

Nice, huh? So what are you to do? Or more specifically, what am I to do when I have clients clamoring for MT4 and they are on the Small Business package? I have to figure out a way to make it work. Unfortunately, neither Six Apart nor Yahoo! makes it easy. The good news is that it's quite possible, once you know what you need. The first suggestion that I have - don't read that long letter that you'll get from Yahoo!, as it won't help tell you what you need to know.

Though the vast majority of installations I work with use LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl) to run Movable Type, there are also a few where my client would like to place Windows in that equation. While it's a possibility to run Apache on Windows, Internet Information Server (IIS) has shipped with Windows Servers just about forever, and it's quite possible to get Movable Type up and running without Apache. I guess you might like to call this a WIMP (Windows, IIS, MySQL, Perl) installation, which fits in nicely with the old Windows, Icon, Mice, Pointers joke from years back. But I digress.

First, of course, you need Windows and IIS. Unfortunately, configuring those two is going quite beyond the scope of this article. Luckily, doing so is not particularly difficult. You'll also need, at a minimum, MySQL and Perl. If you want to use dynamic publishing, you'll also need PHP - but I'm not going to cover that here. Maybe next time. Ready? Let's go!

By now, there's a reasonable chance that if you've wanted to upgrade to the latest release of Movable Type, you've done so. But you may still be waiting. Perhaps you're hoping that your favorite plugin will be updated (there are still a few that haven't been released for MT4). Or maybe you've run into a problem that you can't seem to overcome.

One of the issues that I run into fairly regularly is for people who use the MTCommentFields tag. This tag, originally released in version 3.0D - way back in 2004, for those of you keeping track - was designed so that you wouldn't have to keep up with your comment form. Unfortunately, people like to keep up with their comment form, to move it around, change some wording, add features or just tinker. So it rapidly fell out of favor, and in MT4, it's gone completely.

If you're still using it and you want to upgrade, you'll see a message that reads The MTCommentFields tag is no longer available; please include the Comment Form template module instead. You will be able to rebuild your templates, but you won't be able to accept any new ones.

And naturally, if you're upgrading, you won't have this module to make that happen. To make matters worse, if you're a user of certain versions, even if you try and get rid of the tag, you might still have problems. What do you do? Luckily, it's an easy fix.

Over the last few years, the term beta has been somewhat misused. It used to be that when you used beta software, you expected to encounter problems. But when Google started throwing around the term for its offerings, people came to expect that beta software wasn't so bad. Still need an example? Despite Gmail arguably being the leader in web-based email systems, it's had that tag for more than two years.

There are plenty of examples, but hopefully you get the point I'm trying to make - that beta just doesn't mean what it used to. So there really shouldn't be a surprise that people install beta software. It used to be that only a certain crowd would install beta software, but these days, just about everyone will do so, thinking that they can expect to get what they have come to expect. That's not always the case, as sometimes you can get nasty surprises.