I admit it - I am stuck on Movable Type 3. I know I should move up to 4.2 (especially now with the latest release and community tools available), but there are so many things I am not happy with yet about 4 (i.e. file management!), and I have finally got my ahead around 3 that 4 is still too out there for me. I use it for some things (finta.com, florence-on-line.com), but until I can get much more comfortable with the template system and a bunch of other things, 3 is for me (and my clients). Also - most of what I am learning in 3 will still apply as I move/migrate to 4 when I finally manage to make the leap.
That being said, I am constantly searching for and learning how to do things with 3 - and one of those sort of mundane seeming yet hard to grasp issues (for me anyway!) has finally been solved. Specifically - I was looking for a way to include data from MT into my static, non-MT, non-CMS web pages. Eventually all of this stuff will be in MT, but I needed something now that could give me the capability to put headlines from MT into a regular HTML file (and the solution will probably work for entries, etc.).
Previously I had used a pretty horrible solution of taking the MT feed, burning it with FeedBurner, and then using BuzzBoost to embed the headlines into the home page of Caribbean-On-Line for the Travel Tips section. This had a whole set of issues involving styling the thing, having to include it with an iframe tag (don't ask!), and a lot of other assorted issues that arise from poor planning and cobbling together stuff on the fly.
So as I was searching around for how to burn a separate feed per MT Category with not much luck (which I was then going to use utilizing the system described above), I somehow, finally, had one of those light bulb goes off in your brain kind of moments - I could set up a new Archive Template, and a new Archive Mapping - the template would "publish" whatever it was that I was looking for from MT (in this case, just the last 5 entries for each category - the category name, and the entry titles linked to their respective posts), and then I could include those using SSI (Serve Side Includes) wherever I needed them in my flat HTML files. Now, maybe this is a no-brainer for some people, but I couldn't find anything on the web about it - so I decided to document the process and let all you other MT 3 users in on it. The nuts and bolts are coming in Part 2.