Choosing the Right Archive Type

While making the transition to Movable Type, one of the decisions I spent a lot of time on was the best archive type. In Movable Type, there are several different types of archives that can be created.

As shipped, MT includes templates for creating archives individually, by category, or by date. For each blog, you can then control which of these archives will be created and how to name the resulting files.

Each blog entry will be saved based on the preferred archive type (which you can choose). By default this is set to the Individual archive which will create entries with unique IDs (000001.html, 000002.html, etc.), stored in the archive folder (another preference). Also, the “permalink” for each entry includes an anchor reference within the page. For example: “/archives/000054.html#000054”. However, since the ID is a gloablly incrementing number, it doesn’t make much sense. (There aren’t 54 anchors on page 000054.html, just one.) I was also worried about a continuously growing list of individual files.

I decided to set the individual archives to be by date (daily, in fact). I specified the filename template to look like this: /2002/12/20.html (for all entries from 12/20/2002). Within each archive page, each individual entry is labelled with an anchor based on the title (e.g., 2002/12/17.html#invisibles). Now I’ve got the archives stored by folders which should make them easier to maintain going forward. And, I won’t get too many files in any one folder.

It also made the standard calendar make more sense. In the default setting, the calendar days would only point to last entry made on that day, not all entries from that day.

A couple of key thoughts:

1) Default templates from a system like this are a good starting point, but they should be modified to match your needs and expectations.
2) When setting up a new system, pay immediate attention to file and folder names and the archiving scheme. Once all of the structure is in place, worry about the design (fonts, colors, CSS, etc.).