movabletype 4 upgrade – installation

I guess I can break down the process of upgrading into 3 parts: Installation, Templates and Styles. I’ll split them up into 3 posts.


There are two official methods for upgrading. The first is to replace old files with new: this preserves existing indexes, templates and customisations. The second, and recommended, is to download MT4 into a fresh installation, then copy over plugins and customisations. Step 5 of the recommended way says:

Login to Movable Type – The first time you access Movable Type, the system will detect the new version of MT installed on your system and take you through the automated process of upgrading your database. When this process is complete, you will be able to begin using Movable Type immediately.

Except it didn’t work for me. When I logged in as usual by pointing the browser to mt.cgi I got a server 500 error. What SixApart didn’t point out, or assumed, was that the permissions on the cgi files are correctly set. This isn’t the case. In any event, Elise’s instructions on how to safely upgrade to mt3.3 also apply for mt4. The steps I followed:

  1. back up everything — ftp the entire site to my computer, exported all entries by clicking the Import/Export button, exported the database using myphpadmin
  2. rename 3.35 folders — mt became mt3.35 and mt-static became mt-static3.35
  3. place the mt4 folders in their proper place on my hard disk — the mt folder in cgi-bin and mt-static in the root directory
  4. make a duplicate of mt-config.cgi-original and call it mt-config.cgi
  5. edit mt-config.cgi to configure urls, paths, database and to copy the customised directives from the mt3 mt-config file
  6. ftp mt4 files to the server
  7. I did not copy plugins into the new installation — I’ll reinstall the ones I need after installation
  8. change the permissions of all cgi files to 755
  9. login as normal
  10. hey presto! I got the Time to Update prompt
  11. allow to update then return
  12. afterwards change permissions of old cgi files to 644


I was then greeted with the new “back in black” dashboard. Heh, they even took the name from WordPress. What I like about the dashboard:

  • looks clean and sleek
  • easy stats — though it’s probably more useful for a multi-authored, more complicated blog
  • system-wide configurations — very useful for those of us with more than one blog in the installation
  • switching to another blog brings me to (roughly) the same point in that blog rather than the homepage
  • autosave
  • easy edit entry screen, with tabs for body and extended body, easy selection of tags and categories (pop ups are gone forever, thank god)
  • wysiwyg preview
  • publish (what used to be rebuild) is faster and is on the main menu
  • did I mention the shiny black header?

What I dislike about the dashboard:

  • posting a new entry is now 2 extra clicks away; they desperately need to list all the blogs on the home dashboard page to give users one click posting (ie the old dashboard). I know I can set up bookmarklets but I don’t like them [ETA: there’s a plug-in which replicates the 3.35 screen which is great. my bugbear is that it’s at the bottom of the screen]
  • the contextual menus activate far too easily, just mouse over accidentally and they drop down
  • no breadcrumbs — going back and forth when updating templates (more later) was a nightmare of clicking, clicking and more clicking
  • while the stats are interesting, it’s of little or no use for me as a single author on a personal site
  • too much clicking