MultiMarkdown as CMS

09/29/2009 18:34:37

My web site has gone through several iterations, building on blosxom, Oddmuse, and then Movable Type.

As I tried different CMS systems, however, I found that I was intentionally using fewer and fewer features. Instead I was writing a couple of modules myself to add the basic features I needed (primarily MultiMarkdown support).

I finally realized that my Movable Type installation was doing little more than putting a wrapper around my content so that it would look nice, and organizing the entries by calendar month.

When I wanted to update a page, however, I had log into Movable Type, find the right entry, copy the content to a real text editor, edit, copy back, publish the page, and verify. It was fairly cumbersome.

It then occurred to me that I could do this with MultiMarkdown itself. I wrote an XSLT file to put a few SSI commands around my content, and then built a few basic templates that are called in these commands to ensure that every page has the same header, sidebar, and footer.

I wrote a quick perl script to update the calendar archives, put the whole thing in a git repository, and now I can update my web site by pushing to my server.

A side effect is that I had to remove all reliance on cgi for the main site. I previously used MT’s search feature. But it wasn’t actually that good, and now I use a Google Custom Search Engine that is much better and faster.

I can use TextMate to modify multiple pages in my site at once, or to quickly search for any content I want.

The only thing I am really missing at the moment is comments. I am looking for an appropriate solution to allow blending comments with a static site so that I can reinstate that feature.

We’ll see how this goes, but I’m excited.

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So, I appear to have comments working, as well as math:


And I think I figured out why I was having trouble with special characters in IE….

Another side benefit. Because I upload the text files to my web server in addition to the html files, you can view the raw MMD source for any page.

Simply add a “.txt” extension to the URL. In the case of viewing a directory, you will need to add “index.txt” since the index.html is hidden from the URL.

e.g. to see the source for

go to

Sounds great! Will you be making the CMS avaiable for download?

That’s the thing — there’s nothing to download. Multimarkdown is the CMS. Your entries are stored in text files.

A more detailed description is here.

Test comment with migration of cgi stuff.

THAT’s a great idea+implementation of a practical CMS… I use RapidWeaver for several sites that require loads of css-magic - but I’ve been looking for a simple content-management workflow for my more content-heavy sites. Thanx a lot!!

Glad you found it helpful. I like that it’s actually incredibly simple, yet pretty powerful.

Using plain text and MMD for the main content frees me to only think about the extras I want to add to my site. I prefer it to having to hack on a bunch of plugins for another CMS…