What Broke StyleCatcher (And How To Fix It)
Remember my lament about the StyleCatcher plugin for Movable Type being borked? And how I had to hack the plugin to get it to work on my server?
Well, those posts caught the attention of ace Six Apart tech god Jay Allen (the guy who wrote the incredibly important MT-Blacklist spam-killing plugin, back in the MT 2.x days before MT had any kind of integrated comment spam defenses). After some e-mail correspondence and troubleshooting on their end, we’ve figured out why it was breaking.
Turns out that StyleCatcher has problems with old versions of the Perl module libwww-perl (aka LWP). My box was running LWP version 5.64, which is an old version, vintage 2002 — the latest one is 5.803, which is what 6A had been using for testing.
6A suggested that I upgrade LWP, but in a kind of miracle of synchronicity, the exact day I received the suggestion was the day my hosting provider, DreamHost (who rock), had chosen to upgrade my server to Debian Sarge. Sarge includes LWP 5.803, so I got the new version of the module “for free” when they did the distro upgrade.
And lo and behold, that did the trick! Now I can run StyleCatcher completely unmodified, just as it is distributed from the 6A site.
So the lesson here is this: if StyleCatcher is breaking for you in the way I described, you need to update to LWP 5.803. Older versions may work, but then again they may not. 6A is working on figuring out what the baseline acceptable version of LWP is for the plugin; until they do, your best bet is to assume it requires 5.803.
Many thanks to the 6A team (led by Jay Allen and Brad Choate) for taking the time to work with me in figuring this out. StyleCatcher is a free tool without any official 6A tech support, so they went above and beyond the call of duty in helping figure out why it was breaking for me. That’s some serious customer service! And it’s much appreciated.