Running with Melody


Long-time readers may remember me talking about Movable Type and that it is used to manage this web site. Movable Type is fine software, and I make a living working with it every day. But I believe the future is Melody, as I previously wrote. Melody started slowly, but has had a lot of momentum behind it lately: version 1.0 beta 2 was released just a few weeks ago and continues to press forward!

Movable Type has powered this web site since 2003. Back in April I installed Melody alongside Movable Type to play a bit, but since early October I’ve been running the site with only Melody! So, here are some details on my experience.

The mid-October upgrade from MT to Melody took some effort with regards to plugins. If you haven’t seen it, the upgrade guide includes notes on the plugin troubles I encountered. This was really the only hiccup in making the switch, though.

Take a close look and you’ll see I’ve been posting near-daily for the past few months, which (hopefully) means I’ve been giving Melody a good workout as a user. It’s been a mostly good experience. As an author, the new features I’ve been able to take advantage of are few and minor improvements, but very much appreciated (entries listing screen, Tools > Search menu option, etc). The release notes have some detail on the major changes Melody brings (1, 2).

I’ve been a little surprised at my own priorities for how I use Melody in regards to plugins. Specifically, my Default Category and Hot Date plugins were sorely missed. Over the past few weeks when I’ve had a free moment I’ve updated them. (The surprising part, to me, is how few plugins I now rely upon.)

I think the Default Category plugin may be a bit more specialized than many need. (As the name implies, this plugin lets you specify a default category to be used for entries.) In particular I have been republishing a lot of photos from my Flickr account to, and Default Category lets me pick a category to be used with the XML-RPC interface, helping to keep the site organized.

I have spent the last few months working with that Publish Date text field to input the post time stamp, and it’s just reminded me of what a poor experience it is for those who schedule entries. I finally updated Hot Date to work with Melody and realized that I had forgotten just how awesome that little plugin is at streamlining this process. So, I’d like to advocate that Hot Date’s functionality become core to Melody.

One bug that has been annoying me is that subcategory relationships don’t seem to be maintained on the Edit Entry screen or when published. I haven’t had a chance to look into this more, but as I’ve been posting more and more photos that need some sub-categorization the priority is going up.

Something mostly unrelated is that the templates for are quite old — I put them together in 2005, and have just hacked-on any new features I wanted over the years. Having built some much more modern stuff that takes advantage of things like caching and the publish queue leaves me a little frustrated and disappointed with how things work for the current site. Perhaps installing Melody will fuel me to finally come up with a new design, or at least modern templates!

It’s also been exciting to be a core contributor to the Melody project: I’ve written a good chunk of code for Melody and knowing that other people are using it is very rewarding. Also, three other plugins I developed have already been made core features! I look forward to squashing some more bugs, adding some more features, and upgrading to the next release!

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