Movable Type 4.2 - Faster, Prettier and Nearly Ready

5 minute read
Irina Guseva avatar
Movable Type 4.2 Coming Soon
From 4.0 in the summer of 2007 to 4.1 in early 2008, Six Apart is about to grace us with yet another shiny and new version of Movable Type sometime this summer. While the exact release date has not yet been revealed -- think early August -- the 4.2 version looks like something worth the wait. The suspense is further fueled by the MT team’s bold comments revolving around the statement that this is “one of the most important upgrades to Movable Type ever.”As Byrne Reese, Six Apart’s Product Manager, puts it “Movable Type 4.2 includes compelling solutions to the three most frequently requested features by our users: amazing performance enhancements, vastly simpler templates and design capabilities.”

Performance and Publishing Enhancements

MT is now faster and more scalable than ever with several changes that increase publishing speed and reduce memory load. Extensive code audit led to some of the improvements outlined below. The good thing is that none of the improvements will require you to make any template or configuration changes when you upgrade to 4.2.This is the biggest highlight of 4.2, according to Reese, who quite poetically describes it as “You know that feeling when you buy a new computer and you see the boot-up screen whiz by really fast. It’s a rush right? That the sensation you get when you publish in Movable Type 4.2.”

Module Caching

The HTML output from the most widely used templates can now be cached to speed up the publishing process and improve database performance.

Movable Type 4.2 Module Caching Configuration

For a more detailed overview of Module Caching, go here.

Server Side Includes (SSI)

In the new version, you can process template modules as SSI’s. What that means is that you can share the same content and code among multiple pages and update all of them at the same time on publish, without having to republish the entire site. In other words, as soon as the MT sees , it will process it as an SSI, write the HTML output to the file system and replace the tag with the appropriate server side include. Currently, MT 4.2 supports the following types of SSI:* PHP* SHTML* ASP* JSP


As we already know, Movable Type supports dynamic, static and background publishing right out-of-the-box. In 4.2, there is a series of publishing enhancements designed to optimize site and database performance by publishing high-priority content statically while less important content is published dynamically or via background.

Publishing Profile Wizard in Movable Type 4.2

Fine tuning is now also a possibility, as every template and archive map can be configured independently.

New in Design and Templating

Updated Navigation

To make the use of MT as efficient as possible, 4.2 introduces a fresh look at navigation and menus structure, including the improved Preferences menu and additions to the Tools menu.

New Movable Type 4.2 navigation

Single Screen Template View

There are new features now under the Design tab, where users can utilize a single template listing screen for all templates, archives, archive maps and template modules. With the redesigned and improved single screen view, users should be able to get a better picture of structure of their sites. There is also a combined widget and sidebar screen to allow for greater control and centralized management of sidebars and widgets from the Widgets console. Designers will appreciate the ease of creating and managing new widgets.

Movable Type 4.2 consolidated widget view

Template Editing Interface

Now it’s much easier to find any HTML, CSS or template code thanks to the code highlighting feature. Template refreshing is also better now, as users can install new template sets and themes with a single “Apply” click.

Movable Type 4.2 new template view

Template Backup Listing Screens

In addition, template backups have their new, separate home now. They can be found on a single screen under Design tab > Templates.

Template Previews

This functionality allows to preview the changes made to templates before hitting the “Save” button.

Movable Type 4.2 template preview

Template Set Exporter Tool

This new tool should come in handy, if you want to covert your blog’s templates by running "export-ts," a command line tool. Moreover, you can zip up your templates sets and distribute them. Download it here.

Comment Threading

Utilizing the Simply Threaded plug-in, MT now allows users to reply to comments of other users in a nested and threaded fashion. Byrne Reese also adds that MT 4.2 has a fully-integrated solution for fighting comment spam, which is “...pretty amazing. Aside from being an awesome comment spam fighting service, TypePad AntiSpam is also open source.”

Better Search

MT 4.2 introduces the completely overhauled search functionality. Movable Type's search back-end can be either integrated or replaced by your own search engine. New features include:* Search results pagination* Support of full text search* Support for the Lucene query syntax * Integration with third-party plugins like MTFastSearch or SphinxSearchAll in all, it looks like the Movable Type team has been working hard to make MT 4.2 better and faster. The feedback so far has been great says Byrne Reese, adding that “It is reassuring to know that the work paid off. Search is 100x faster than MT 3.x and publishing on MT 4.2 fresh out of the box is twice as fast MT 3.x.”Upgrades should go smoothly, as Six Apart is committed to devoting time and resources for testing the upgrade path to every new version of Movable Type.As soon as folks are able to upgrade to this version, we are sure to hear more feedback and real-life examples of what’s working well and what is going to be addressed in the next release. Stay tuned!

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