Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
Beginning to grok MT4.
It's taken me long enough, but I'm finally beginning to understand some of the bizarre intricacies of MT4.  I'm still annoyed that some stuff that should be easier simply isn't, and I'm equally annoyed that there aren't more resources available online for MT4 yet (there are big gaps of 6A's official documentation that simply read 'coming soon') but I'm at least coming around to where the gang is going with this.  MT4 is clearly the biggest overhaul of the software in recent years, and once the smoke clears it'll be an impressive app.  Right now, though, it's still on slightly shaky ground; I spent all day simply cleaning up the code for the new commenting system that they've implemented (it's not at play on this blog yet, but it's currently being beta-tested at GAMBIT's Updates blog, and the C3 Weblog.

The biggest lesson I've learned from today's adventure has to do with reusable snippets of code. The new MT has some really nifty bits built-in to deal with reusable chunks that can be called from either a local level or a global level – and it's this latter function that's really quite clever.  It's an include file, really, but by including access to those files at the system level of MT4 it becomes possible to reuse the same functionality in multiple blogs at different sites, just like the ones I listed above.  Now all of those blogs use the same basic blog comment template, the same basic prev/next template and (mostly) the same footer template, with the stylings for each being determined primarily in the CSS – exactly the kind of thinking that the web's been trending towards for the better part of a decade.  My own code doesn't quite reflect the complete separation of content and markup yet since CSS still doesn't do some of the things I want easily enough for my tastes (let the hardcore CSS harpies come shrieking down upon my skull now, but it is what it is – sometimes a TABLE will do things that a DIV just won't without making CSS twist and turn like a circus contortionist).

The other intriguing thing about the new MT4 is how well it actually lends itself to doing some of the things I wanted to do with Inkblots years and years ago.  Every couple of weeks I get the twinge to relaunch Inkblots again, but now there are so many more demands on my time that it's difficult to imagine carving out those kinds of hours again for such a project.  Add to that a sense of "yeah, been there, done that" and it I suspect that my time would be better spent trying to do things I haven't done yet (making an honest-to-God video game, publishing a book, building a software app, etc.) and Inkblots' chances aren't looking good.  Still, never say never.

This might be my last post here until next week.  Laura's grandma passed away on Saturday morning and so she and I are going to be driving back to Ohio tomorrow night.  We'll be there through the following Saturday morning or so, and I'm not sure how much online time I'll have, but maybe I'll bring my camera along and try to get some classic Ohioana shots for Flickr.  (And some reference photos for another eventual project...)
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