Now running on Movable Type 3.3

Movable Type 3.3 badge-type thingBut just as with the upgrade to 3.2, this did not go smoothly. By following the parallel install method of upgrading I managed to get around the 500 server error problem, and was successfully able to run mt-upgrade under cgiwrap. This makes me think that my problem last year (and this year, too, initially) was something dodgy on my server rather than anything inherent in MT.

Once I got past the server errors, the actual upgrade script ran smoothly. However, I can’t say that I’m madly impressed by the new documentation (with a search option that doesn’t currently work), and the support forums were unavailable for all the time I was hitting problems. I like the new features in 3.3, but the overall upgrade experience has left me unsure as to whether a new release of MT is something to look forward to, or dread.

Update: I just noticed that Jay Allen posted a message to the Pronet mailing last saying that Six Apart was going to be doing some maintenance on its site over the weekend. This might be the cause of the forums outage. Maybe I just picked a bad time to do the upgrade…

7 Replies to “Now running on Movable Type 3.3”

  1. Mmm…I’ve been interested by some of the new features, and yet at the same time scared of the upgrade. I might tackle my own site first before the biggie of Filmstalker.

    Would you say your issues were down to your install, or were there problems that others might well encounter?

  2. What I tried to do was upload the files from MT 3.31 over the top of my existing installation, and then run mt.cgi. This should have detected that an upgrade had happened, and bounced me into mt-upgrade.cgi to perform the upgrade steps.

    Didn’t work. After uploading the new files, everything stopped working completely: HTTP 500 server errors all round.

    I thought that perhaps my FTP program might have cocked up a few files en route to the server, so I tried uploading the tarball to the server, unzipping it in situ, and then copying the files over into the MT installation folder. Still no luck. The error messages were slightly different, though–this time complaining about missing brackets in the MySQL DBI module. (I should have kept the screenshots of the error messages around for future reference, but I didn’t think to at the time.)

    At this point I started looking for more information:

    a) in the Installation Guide PDF. This didn’t work, because this document on Six Apart’s servers seems to be the guide for installing Movable Type Enterprise, not vanilla MT. However, even in section 3.1.2 of this document (“Configuring an Upgrade Installation”), it starts with the instruction, “Install the Movable Type Enterprise files over your existing installation”. See previous frustrations.

    b) by searching the MT online documentation. This didn’t work because the search function was broken (it’s fixed now), and manually browsing through the documentation pages is annoying.

    Six Apart have seem to have chosen to keep the Movable Type docs in an MT blog, with the associated category-based archive structure, and frankly, it sucks ass. I reckon this was supposed to show how MT is more than just a blogging platform, and can be used as a generic CMS, but…it sucks ass. Even when I found any material relating to 3.3 specifically, it was incomplete, and it still is. Call me old-fashioned, but a mature commercial product like Movable Type should have a final documentation pack ready at release time, not at some point in the weeks to follow.

    c) on the Movable Type support forums. No go there, either, because the forums were down, and still are. Way to go Six Apart. Scheduling major forum maintenance the week after a major product release, just when everyone is going to be upgrading and wanting to ask heaps of questions? Nice.

    d) on Google. That’s where I found the instructions over at, which suggest running a side-by-side install rather than overwriting your files. Doing that, I was able to get through the upgrade fairly quickly. The most tricky thing was making sure I grabbed all the files for all the plugins I use.

    Now, I had thought that the problems were most likely just a bad side-effect of a crufty installation on my own server, but I just saw that John Scalzi also had trouble upgrading. I don’t know if his problems were the same as mine, and the plural of “anecdote” is not “data”, but my strong recommendation is this: don’t overwrite your original installation when you’re doing an upgrade. Do a parallel install instead. It certainly seems the safer option.

  3. Oh dear, sounds like it wasn’t a great experience.

    I thought that MT3.2 had a distinct lack of help online, often just one line of text to explain a function or a tag, that was utterly useless. If you remember you actually had a local copy of the previous manual and sent that to me.

    I’m going to hold off on the upgrade, mainly because of what you are saying but also because of the lack of public testing, MT even cut that short.

    I’m actually considering Drupal or WordPress at the moment and wondering if a move might be called for.

    There’s an article over at Performancing Metrics saying that MT are going Enterprise and leaving the individual.

  4. MT 3.3 was in public beta for a month or so, but I didn’t have the time in June to play with it. I was, however, tracking their beta blog ( for news and updates, and I had been expecting some kind of announcement there when the final version was released. Instead…nothing. When the beta blog went quiet for a while after Release Candidate 2, I went over to the Six Apart main site to see what was going on, and found out there that 3.3 was out.

    Not cool, and not what I expect from 6A. They’re supposed to be the company that understands bloggers.

    I’ve been giving some thought to WordPress lately, but I kind of like the way Movable Type publishes all its pages statically, so that even while my back-end was shagged on Sunday evening, all my content was still being served up with no issues at all.

    (Hmm. And now I’ve just noticed that my TypeKey authentication for comments appears to have gone the way of the Dodo. Bugger.)

  5. I just tried installing movable type 3.3 using the side-by-side install method and it’s giving me nothing but 500 errors. Upon trying to revert back to 3.2 I am now encountering the same result. If you happen to mess up on the install… how can you best revert back to the original?

    I’ve back up my mt directory and the DB to-date thinking that’s all that should be necessary. Now I’m wondering how on earth I can get 500 errors after restoring everything to the way it was.

  6. Stuart, if you want to revert back to your 3.2 installation, you’ll probably have to restore your database to the state it was in prior to your upgrade attempt. If you got part-way through the 3.3 upgrade, the upgrade script may have made changes to your database that 3.2 may not recognize.

    It looks like the support forums are back online, so you could try having a search there to see if anyone has any better ideas…

  7. I just looked at the install file to do a new installation, as I’ve deleted my old one, and it may aswell be in greek. 50 page manual to install it, and parts don’t even seem to make sense. How come WordPress can be installed in 5 mins with one short page of instructions and MT takes 50 pages and doesn’t even seem to work after all that. It’s a real let down to be honest, I don’t think I’ll even continue trying with it, 3.17 was far easier to setup.

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