Movable Type And Mailman

How to integrate Movable Type weblog software with Mailman mailing list software to deliver excerpts from your weblog to subscribers via e-mail.

By Erik J. Heels

First published 6/2/2003; Heels(dot)com Web Site; Clock Tower Law Group

A Movable Type weblog can be set up to automatically notify (“ping”) other weblogs whenever new entries are added to the weblog (http://www.movabletype.org/docs/mtmanual_weblog_config.html). Movable Type publishers can access this feature from the “Configuration/Preferences/Publicity” page.

Similarly, a Movable Type weblog can be configured so that users will receive e-mail when new entries are added to the weblog (http://www.movabletype.org/docs/mtmanual_notifications.html). Movable Type publishers can access this feature by enabling the “mt-add-notify.cgi” script from the “Notifications” page and adding some HTML to their weblog templates. Notification by Movable Type is not automatic, so weblog publishers will have to post an entry and then send a notification (by editing the entry) manually.

I already have search engine software (SWISH-E), so I don’t use Movable Type’s built-in search engine. Similarly, I already have mailing list software (Mailman), so I don’t use Movable Type’s “Notifications” feature. But I can achieve the same results (and take advantage of Mailman’s more powerful mailing list software) by adding a mailing list’s e-mail address as the weblog’s sole subscriber. Theoretically, I could set up Mailman to send archives once per month, thereby allowing subscribers to my website/weblog/newsletter to automatically receive monthly updates via e-mail about new weblog entries.

I am testing this concept with this entry/message (using a test mailing list). Incidentally, one of the reasons that I prefer to make URLs visible on the pages of my website (rather than embed them in links) is so that I can cut and paste pages from my website into plain-text e-mail messages and have the URLs be visible (and, depending on e-mail client software, clickable) by recipients. Long URLs are problematic, both in weblogs and in e-mail messages, and that problem remains unsolved. I prefer not to use any of the third-party URL-shortening services (http://notlong.com/links/) simply because I prefer to rely on zero off-site services to operate my website.

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