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Setting General Preferences

Movable Type preferences will assist you in adding the first level of customization for your weblog. These general preferences don't offer the same level of customization as will the custom templates and other preferences you'll build later in this book. Nevertheless, the general preferences are important, as they ensure that Movable Type is configured appropriately for you and your site visitors.

General preferences include the following:

  • Weblog Description. This option allows you to set a description of your log that will be displayed in the Movable Type main menu.

  • Number of Days Displayed. This option allows you to set a default of how many days' worth of entries will be visible on your log page.

  • Language for Date Display. This option allows you to configure your preferred format for date display.

  • Order of Entries Displayed. Allows you to set whether entries will be in ascending or descending order.

  • Default Text Formatting for New Entries. This option sets the default text formatting options for you and anyone else authorized to post to the log.

  • Draft Post Status. You can determine the default post status here.

  • Number of Words in Excerpt. Excerpts are generated from your entries. By default, this number is set to 40 words, but you can change that default setting here.

  • Sanitize Spec. This feature allows you to use default or custom settings that Movable Type will apply when running its Sanitize feature. Please see Hour 19, "Scrubbing Content with Sanitize," for advanced details on using this feature.

  • Welcome Message. This is a welcome message for your log authors (not your site visitors) when they log in to Movable Type to create an entry.

  • Creative Commons License. If you would like your log information to be published under the Creative Commons license, you can select a license here and have Movable Type display the license automatically. For more information about Creative Commons, please see the sidebar in this section.

About Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a fascinating idea that encourages artistic growth through the sharing of content that pertains to Web sites, music, film, photography, literature, courseware, and other creative works. It is an extended means of protecting intellectual property while allowing easier access to and dissemination of that material by other people.

There are several licenses from which to choose, some more restrictive than others. The type of publishing you're doing will help you determine which, if any, of the Creative Commons licenses will be appropriate for you.

Please note that prior to adding Creative Commons licenses, you'll want to have the materials copyrighted via traditional means. Because copyright rules and regulations are different depending upon the country or region where you live, you'll want to contact the copyright offices in your country for more detailed information on copyright.

To learn more about Creative Commons and study the available licenses, please see http://www.creativecommons.org/.

In the following exercises you will set up these preferences. When the topic is more detailed, such as with archiving, notification, and TrackBack, you'll want to refer to the corresponding hours for more details on how to work with these features.

Adding Log Description, Number of Entries, and Time Language Display

To create a description for your weblog, choose how many entries will be displayed on the page at a time, and choose which language the display will be in, follow these steps:

  1. If you're not logged in to Movable Type, do so now.

  2. When you've reached the Main Menu screen, find the log you want to set general preferences for, and click on the Manage Weblog link under "Your Existing Weblogs."

  3. You'll come to the Editing Menu page for that weblog. From the Manage section of the administration menu, click Weblog Config to access the configuration page.

  4. When you're in the Configuration menu, select Preferences. This will take you to the preferences configuration page (see Figure 3.6).

  5. Figure 3.6Figure 3.6 The configuration menu for your selected weblog.

  6. Enter a short slogan into the Description text field.

  7. TIP

    The welcome message can be anything you'd like it to be, but typically, keeping it short and sweet will make it more effective for both those folks authorized to make entries into your log, and those site visitors enjoying your log content. The message appears to your users when you log in, and also appears wherever you use a specific description tag, meaning that the public will see it unless you override it as well. So, the slogan should accurately reflect the site.

  8. In the Number of Days Displayed text box, enter the number of days worth of entries you'd like to have appear in your log. If you expect to have a lot of content added every day, you may want to make this number lower than the default of "7"—if you don't expect to be making many entries, a higher number may be in order. The longer your entries, or the more entries you have, the longer your page becomes and the more difficult it is for readers to keep up. You can always modify this later but starting with the default is usually okay for most people.

  9. In the Language for Date Display section, use the drop-down menu to determine the language style for date display. Different languages display dates differently in terms of day, month, and year order and use different ways of representing time of day. If you and the majority of your site visitors are English-speaking, you can choose English. However, if you use another language for your logs, you can choose to display the date in that language by choosing it from the menu. Figure 3.7 shows the General Settings completed.

Figure 3.8 shows the blog description as it will appear on the Main Menu screen after you've saved your changes by clicking the Save button at the end of the configuration page.

Figure 3.7Figure 3.7 The description, days displayed, and date language are set.

If you'd like to take a break before completing the remainder of the configurations, you should scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Save button. This will ensure that your changes are recorded so that you can come back at any time to proceed.

Setting Entry Order, Customizing Text Formatting, and Configuring Default Post Status

The next settings determine the order in which posted information appears on your site, the format of posted text, and the default post status. By default, information is posted in descending order, which means the most recent information will be at the top, rather than the bottom, of the displayed entries. Text formatting refers to whether you'll allow line breaks for the default (meaning Movable Type will write the HTML paragraph tags rather than the author) or not, and whether a post is published immediately or rather, saved as a draft for later publishing.

Figure 3.8Figure 3.8 Now the Main Menu screen offers your custom description associated with your new blog, as well as the information from your First Blog.

To set the entry order, customize the way text is formatted by individuals posting to the log, and configure your default post status, follow these steps:

  1. If you've left Movable Type, you'll need to begin by navigating to the Editing Menu screen for the weblog you're customizing by logging in to Movable Type and clicking the Manage Weblog link under "Your Existing Weblogs."

  2. Click the Weblog Config option from the administration menu.

  3. Click the Preferences link in the Configuration menu. This will bring you back to the configuration page you were working with in the last exercise.

  4. Scroll down to the Order of Entries Displayed option. From the drop-down menu, choose between ascending (your oldest entries will appear at the top) or descending (your newest entries will appear at the top). Most people choose the default option of Descending.

  5. In the Default Text Formatting for New Entries option, select your desired default value.

  6. NOTE

    You can make advanced configurations to Text Formatting later, and in fact customize the text formatting options by individual posts. So this is just a fallback setting. The options are Convert Line Breaks, which will automatically place paragraphs in paragraph tags and a break tag wherever you input a line break. The None option means that you will add the appropriate HTML to the entry. If you don't know HTML, set this option to Convert Line Breaks for now. If you do know HTML you can decide which is easier for you.

  7. Set the default Post Status by selecting either Draft or Publish from the drop-down menu. In most instances, Draft is going to be the desired default so that you can easily edit your drafts for later publication. No matter which you use as your default, you can change this later on, and both options are always available from a drop-down menu in the Edit Entries menu.

Figure 3.9 shows an example of the updated configuration settings menu.

Figure 3.9Figure 3.9 Order, text formatting, and post status preferences are set.

Configuring Excerpt Values, Sanitize Spec, and a Welcome Message

An excerpt in Movable Type is a short synopsis of a given entry that you can have appear in a variety of locations within your blog. Not everyone uses excerpts, and some people prefer to limit any authors on their Movable Type system to specific word lengths for excerpts.

Sanitize is a means of cleaning up incoming data prior to publishing. Sanitize is covered in detail in Hour 19.

Your Welcome message is a short message that will be used to welcome authors on the main editing screen of your Movable Type interface. This is not displayed to external visitors on your actual site.

To configure the next set of general preferences, follow these steps:

  1. In the Number of Words in Excerpt text box, type in the number of words you'd like your excerpt to be limited to. Of course, you can change this at any time, and you can also choose not to use this feature. If you're unsure what to do now, leave the value as it is.

  2. In the Sanitize Spec option, you can choose between system defaults or customized settings. Unless you are already versed in Movable Type, you'll want to leave this feature set to Use Defaults for now.

  3. In the Welcome Message text field, type in your welcome message. This will be displayed on the Editing Menu screen to your log contributors (see Figure 3.10) .

Figure 3.10Figure 3.10 After you've added the Welcome message and returned to the Editing Menu screen, you'll see the message as you've customized it.

Once again, if you'd like to take a break, click the Save button at the bottom of the page to save your changes. Otherwise, you're ready to move on to adding a Creative Commons license.

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