Understanding Movable Type Template Sets

Since releasing the [Hybrid News Theme](http://www.majordojo.com/2009/05/teaser-hybrid-news-theme-for-movable-type.php) I have been contacted by a number of people on the [ProNet mailing list](http://www.sixapart.com/mailman/listinfo/pronet/) asking me to shed some light on the process of creating template sets, or themes as most other products call them, for Movable Type. As I embark on creating this documentation I stumbled across a video made by a friend of mine on the same subject (mental note: subscribe to [plasticmind.tv](http://plasticmind.tv/)).

Jesse does a good job I think I showing that template sets are sincerely not that difficult and that anyone who can cobble together a WordPress theme, can easily create one for Movable Type. I would like to mention another tool at your disposal which will make this process even easier: it is called `exportts`. The program is [a simple perl script](https://github.com/byrnereese/mt-tool-exportts) that you can drop into your Movable Type `tools` directory to easily **export the templates in a blog and then package them up as an installable template set or theme**. All in one simple step.
The `exportts` tool is something I find indispensable in my work as it saves me literally hours of monotonous and menial labor. Its [readme](http://github.com/byrnereese/mt-tool-exportts/blob/b9c561b70bd5bc2fcb4c6724d1a7d1f0428b5bf0/README.txt) should explain exactly how it works if you want to learn more.
I hope this video helps though, while I document the process more thoroughly.

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5 Comments on “Understanding Movable Type Template Sets”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I have installed an ran the export-ts script, but for some reason, it only produced the cgi-bin plugins directory. No mt-static plugins files were produced. Do you know what I could have done wrong? I ran this perl script:
    perl ./tools/export-ts –blog=1 –id=kc –name=”kc-template-set” –version=2 –out=”template-sets”
    Thanks!

  2. Suzanne says:

    I’ve used WordPress for years but I’d like to dig into MT. But from what you’ve shown us, it’s a bit more complex to manipulate a template in MT than it is in WordPress, correct? I mean, is it hard to add your own graphics, color schemes, etc.?
    Thanks for explaining this though. It really helped clarify things.

  3. Byrne says:

    @Suzanne, One of the things I hope we will be able to accomplish with the Melody Project (an off-shoot of Movable Type) is to finally prove and make self-evident that building web sites with Movable Type and Melody is as easy, if not *easier* than building web sites with WordPress.
    So let’s dispel a couple of myths:
    1. **You need to learn a new programming language when you use Movable Type.**
    There is some truth to this – that cannot be denied. So the question is, do you find the programming language obtruse, or hard to learn? Let’s take a quick look at what the programming language looks like. The following “code” will display a blog’s name:
    Speaking for myself I think that is pretty easy. Is it different than WordPress? Yes. Is it hard? Absolutely not.
    2. **You need to know Perl in order to build web sites with Movable Type.**
    The Movable Type and Melody applications are written in Perl, yes. But web sites are created using a markup language, very similar in many respects to XML or HTML. So, if you want to build a *plugin* for Movable Type, then some perl knowledge is sometimes required (but not always). If on the other hand you want to build a theme, then Perl is *never* required. Let me say that again:
    **If you want to build a theme in Movable Type, knowledge of Perl is NEVER required.**
    3. **I can’t use my knowledge of PHP when building web sites in Movable Type.**
    Movable Type and Melody both publish files to your filesystem. The web server than serves up those files as it would any other file. If that file is a `.php` file that contains PHP code, then that PHP will be interpretted just as it would if WordPress were running behind it.
    One hidden advantage in this that may not be evident to everyone is that you can just as easily have PHP code embedded in your theme, as well as JSP code. That is something WordPress is simply **incapable of**.
    Now, let me answer your one remaining question directly.
    **Is it hard to add your own graphics, color schemes, etc.?**
    It is not any harder to add custom graphics to a Movable Type and Melody theme. If you have access to your web server via SSH or FTP, then it is as simple as uploading a file, and then adding HTML to link to it — just like you would on *any other system or CMS*.
    I hope this has helped answer some of your questions. Stay tuned to majordojo because I hope to soon release some more themes which will help illustrate how easy it is to create a custom and highly configurable theme in Movable Type and Melody.

  4. disiniadaebook says:

    thanks for your tutorial, its very helpful.

  5. Pramod Patel says:

    Hello,
    Need to create a new blog. But not able to implement with the templates. Can I get some simple example with Movable Type to create a simple blog. How to use template, css and js. How to use our own html tags.
    Tx
    Pramod Patel


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