We’ve spent the last few days deep in the bowels of popular blogging platform Movable Type‘s documentation. One of the things we’re focusing on right now is providing a better experience for Integrators – those poor souls whose task it is to integrate different pieces of software with each other in a seamless way.
Many of our existing customers use Pixenate with either home-grown or off-the-shelf content management systems, so it’s important that Pixenate behaves well with other software.
We’re compiling some Integration Case Studies which we hope will prove useful for customers who wish to integrate Pixenate with their existing systems. Right now this is a tentative list of CMSs we’d like to document…
First up is Movable Type. Movable Type is a popular blogging platform but it can also be repurposed as a general purpose Content Management System. Movable Type has a lot going for it from an integration/development perspective: The design of the system is clean, it’s UI is clean and polished, and it provides a great way to extend the system through Plugins.
A key concept in Movable Type is the idea of Assets – Assets are any non-textual content – e.g. Photos, Music, Video etc. Movable Type 4 provides an Asset Manager for use by blog owners and site administrators which makes it easy to manage this type of content.
Movable Type provides a relatively clean way for developers to customize the User Interface and add new behaviour to the system using Templates. In Movable Type all templates are kept in the
tmpl folder but if you want to customize the UI, you should copy the template from
tmpl to the
alt-tmpl folder and work on that copy. Movable Type will use the
alt-tmpl version of the template if there is a template file of that name present in the alt-tmpl folder.
The Pixenate Photo Editor plugin for Movable Type comes with two tweaked templates – cms/edit_asset.tmpl and cms/include/asset_table.tmpl . Both files have been slightly modified so that if the Asset is of type ‘Image’, then an ‘Edit image’ link will be displayed for that Asset.
When the blog owner or site administrator clicks the ‘Edit image’ link a Movable Type Dialog will appear in which they can edit the photo. Right now we’re using a stripped-down ‘Toolbar’ theme.
From an integration point-of-view the Movable type plugin demonstrates the two key points of integration required for Pixenate. This is what the Pixenate Movable Type Plugin provides…
- A link to the Pixenate editor page from one of your existing pages (We changed cms/edit_asset.tmpl and cms/includes/asset_table.tmpl )
- A process/CGI script to save changes to the photo permanently. (This is achieved through a save_changes method in the Pixenate MT plugin).
Movable Type is a really impressive system with a relatively clean approach to extending and customizing via plugins to perform new actions/behaviours, and templates to customize the user interface.
I’m kind of excited about the direction Pixenate is taking and how we will integrate with other content management systems. The Pixenate Movable Type plugin doesn’t require Pixenate to be installed – we’re beta testing a Hosted edition for bloggers and small business so it won’t even impact your web server’s performance.
We’re interested in hearing what Movable Type users think of this plugin – is it useful? What ways can we improve it? If you’re interested in Beta-testing the Pixenate Photo Editing plugin for Movable Type, leave a comment.