Movable Type Pro 4.21: Still Slow, Still Ugly

Yesterday, Pair Networks upgraded this Urban Semiotic blog — and and — to the new Movable Type Pro 4.21 and yet, despite the hype from Six Apart, I am surprised to report Movable Type just as slow and ugly as it ever was. 
Should it really take an hour and 21 minutes to republish 1,400 blog articles and 30,000 comments?

Okay, so an hour and 21 minutes is ridiculous and when I checked my Activity log, it looked like the Yahoo! crawler had its Search Bot up this blog’s bum during the re-publish cycle, so I waited a wee bit, made some template changes, and did another full site re-publish that took 13 minutes.

Compared to an hour and 21 minutes, 13 minutes looks impressive and snappy — except that it isn’t, because before the upgrade to 4.21, Movable Type 4.1 was republishing my entire site in under nine minutes.  I did that 4.21 publish test after refreshing all Global Templates and each template for every blog.  No extra plugins were installed.

Publishing a comment now takes me 30 seconds instead of 16 — and both of those times to get a comment live are wholly atrocious and entirely harassing.

I have a very fast dedicated server and memcached and FastCGI are installed and
Movable Type Pro 4.21 is still super slow on the backend and ever ugly on the

So the hype that Movable Type Pro 4.21 is so much better and faster is lost on me as an ordinary blogger with five active blogs and eleven websites.  

I don’t understand why it is so difficult to have a robust and good looking blog under Movable Type.  The default templates are just old and ugly and the Style Catcher has never worked on this blog without changing the default font between the “Body” view and the “Extended” view upon publication.

Perhaps I was spoiled by WordPress with its easy drag-and-drop design mentality and its intentional “hands off the code” philosophy for authors that gives bloggers the freedom to write without having to think about caching, PHP Includes or worrying with template after template.

I also wonder why simple “Nav Bar” navigation isn’t embedded in every template by default.  Sure, you can try to add it yourself by following this incredibly long-winded tutorial — but who has the time or tide to futz around with raw code when that sort of feature should be, by default, included as a basic feature of your blog?

While we’re on the topic of design aesthetic and ease-of-use, I’m curious why the following, basic, features aren’t included in every Movable Type Pro template set as embedded defaults:

  • UserPics or Avatars for Comments
  • Related Entries with Snippet Preview
  • 100% Drag and Drop Design
  • Nested Comments

You can find workarounds to add those “features” to your blog — non-snippet “Related Entries” now appear with all blog posts — but why would any ordinary, mainstream, blog owner want to mess around with installing plugins, hacking code and republishing over and over again to get a blog looking good when the common expectation is that it should look good out of the box? 

I’m busy writing computer books and articles for a living — I don’t have time to babysit the backend of my blog to squeeze new functionality out of a hamstrung, default, design.

I thought Movable Type Pro 4.21 would be a spectacular and earth-shattering upgrade for my blogs, but I am sorry to report we’re stuck with the same lag time and delays that have plagued us since Movable Type 4.1.

Please take a moment to bang around here a bit.  Do some searches.  Post a few comments.  Let us know how the blog feels to you on an interactive basis by leaving a comment on this article.

We will keep on publishing and doing our Urban Semiotic thang — I do love how Movable Type Pro uses static publishing to keep a blog alive even if the database croaks — and we’ll hold thumbs Six Apart somehow finds a way to really take Movable Type to the next level far beyond the hype machine and the press releases that promise far more than they actually deliver.