Immovable Parts of Movable Type

Six.5.03Movable Type is probably among the top five best pieces of software I’ve ever used, whether online or on my desktop, but it has its shortcomings. But before I get into them, let me reiterate my continuing awe at its flexible, ingenious feature set, all of which is available for the princely sum of free. Ben and Mena Trott’s generosity is truly a marvel, and they’ve engendered a wonderful, vibrant community of users.

I’ve been living with the software in all of my off hours while implementing Six.5, and its authors’ attention to detail is really delightful. You can tell there is some real thought behind it, not just in its interface, but also the concepts behind its features and its workflow. To its credit, it really took a lot of time spent with the program before its shortcomings came to light.

Writers’ Blocks

One of those shortcomings is its handling of logical blocks of postings. MT can offer to show you the n most recent posts, or the n most recent days’ worth of posts. It also allows you to use an &#8216offset’ property if you want to, say, show the ten most recent posts starting with number five (i.e. posts number six through ten).

Below: one example of how MT’s handling of blocks of posts might result in double occurrences of date headers. You wanted to know all this, right?

All of which is great, but if you look at the redesign of my home page, you’ll see that I ran into some limitations with these options. There, the most recent posts are divided into two main areas: the absolutely most recent posts, to which more real estate is devoted, and the next few posts after that, which get a little less room.

This basically required two occurrences of Movable Type’s <MTEntries> tags in the template, which indicate to the software where it should put lists of posts. The first occurrence shows the three most recent. The second occurrence uses the aforementioned &#8216offset’ property to show the next three most recent in abbreviated form.

Posts Display

Double-Date (Headers)

Okay, I’m getting to the point! You’ll see that when multiple posts are made on a single day, the layout starts running into problems. Suppose that my two most recent posts are from Thursday and Wednesday, which would take up the first two slots at the top of the page. Suppose also that there were two posts made on Tuesday. One of those Tuesday posts would show up in the third slot, while the next one would show up in the first slot of the second, abbreviated set of posts.

Not a big deal, unless the posts are grouped by date headers, as mine are. What happens is that two date headers would appear for Tuesday in each of these sets of most recent posts. The effect is rather odd.

What I need is a method to offset days. That way, rather than showing the most recent numbers of posts, the page could display the most recent days’ worth of posts. So, in the example that I gave, the top three slots could be filled by all posts from Thursday, Wednesday and Tuesday, and the next grouping could show Monday, Sunday and Saturday. Much more elegant.

Why am I making such an effort to expound on this admittedly minor problem? First, I just want to show how deep one has to dig in order to find cracks in Movable Type’s features. Most of my other requests, like a <MTBlogResultFooter> tag, are similarly obscure. And second, I’m really hoping that some enterprising MT Plug-In author will whip up a quick solution!