The mysterious disappearing pages of Movable Type 4

22 November 2008

While doing some remedial maintenance on this blog, I noticed that the links to the static pages, such as the about page, had fallen off. I went into MT4's configuration panel to see if anything had gone funny with the widget that collects the static pages together. It all seemed fine there.

Viewing the source showed that the expected <div> tags and other paraphernalia generated by the widget were all there. It just wasn't picking up the static pages sitting in the database. I modified one to see if that had an effect. No dice. Then I created a new test page, which appeared straightaway. So, I copied the details from the contact page into the new page, renamed it and suddenly it turned up on the home page.

Then I remembered that I had the blog set to display pages on the home page only for a certain number of days. Could that affect a widget that is meant to show static pages? Surprise, surprise. Changing the setting to display the three most recent entries brought the link to the other static page back to the home page.

Why the other widgets don't seem affected by the setting is a mystery. Either some of the other edits I made had a delayed effect or there is some code in the page-listing widget that causes it to be affected by the home-page preference. If MT4's documentation was any good, I might have a chance of tracking down the problem. But, you find the documentation for a fairly important MT tag such as <mt:Pages> is this:

A container tag which iterates over a list of pages--which pages depends on the context the tag is being used in. Within each iteration, you can use any of the page variable tags.

Because pages are basically non-date-based entries, the the Pages tag is very similar to Entries.

Attributes unique to the Pages tag:

  • folder

    Use folder label, not basename.
  • include_subfolders

    Specify '1' to cause all pages that may exist within subfolders to the folder in context to be included.

There isn't even a code example. You have to go and reverse engineer an existing template to work out what's going on. With 'help' like this, you pretty quickly lose confidence in the documentation's ability to tell you anything useful.

Dear Movable Type, Wordpress is kicking your butt because it's too darn hard to find out how to do things on MT4.

My next problem is to work out what is gluing up the MT4 database. For that I need a schema because I don't fancy doing a parallel installation just to find out if there is a missing index. Finding that schema is another matter. You might expect to find it in the documentation. So would I.

1 Comment

Thank you for posting this! I was having the same problem and I couldn't figure out for the life of me why a template that was working a month ago suddenly resulted in invisible page contexts!