May 17, 2004

Movable Type and Moving My Typing :p

As you are probably aware, I use Movable Type to maintain this weblog. At least, it is MT which handles the actual publishing though I do use my own offline application (BlogMan) to do the composing of the entries and getting them to the server :p The folks over at Six Apart (they are the ones who develop MT) have been talking about a new release of MT – 3.0 – for a while now and I’ve been looking forward to the new release myself. The first pre-public release – they call it a Developer Edition – was announced over the weekend and a veritable storm broke over major parts of the blogging universe :p

The reason? Ben and Mena Trott – the folks behind Six Apart and MT – had decided to go over to a paid model for this iteration of MT. Unlike a lot of the people who use MT, I am neither personally acquainted with Ben or Mena nor do I use MT that much – it is simply the backend handler for SM since I actually do all of the posting from my own application. However, I do like MT and the features it provides. On the other hand, the limitations of the free release under the 3.0 licensing does make me wonder about continuing to use MT and I’m already looking for replacements. This however is a personal decision based on the fact that the free version of MT might be too limited for me to continue to use it and the fact that future license changes to MT might mean that the free version will be even further feature-atrophied.

As far as Ben and Mena’s own decision regarding MT 3.0, I’m kinda divided. A lot of people seem to feel that Ben and Mena lied to them and that they were being devious in their later decision to change some of the original terms after they were released. I personally don’t think this is the case. Granted that I don’t know the people involved, their concern over having to switch over to a paying model seems to be genuine. But switch they must if they are to survive – this too I understand. As a software developer, I can understand the problems they face. On the other hand, I do think that charging US$ 100 for a personal package which doesn’t give that much more than the free version is a bit excessive as well – especially given that the new release of MT 3.0 does not have that many features added. Yes, there are a lot of changes behind the scenes that will mean more goodies in the future – but nothing for your average user just yet.

Then again, on the other hand, this *is* called a Developer Edition and is aimed mainly at the developer and so the average user shouldn’t really get bent out of shape – not till they do the public release and continue to charge them large sums of money for not many features added :p It really seems to be one of those grey areas that cannot be really categorized as one or the other – there are too many variables … not to mention all the heated emotion that gets in the way of cool thinking. But I do wish Ben and Mena best of luck in trying to take MT along on a new direction.
As far as I’m concerned, I’ll switch to something new soon. I’m looking at a few alternatives at the moment but the one I choose must meet a few criteria that is important to *me*. What are they? Well, first of all, it should be able to import my existing MT entries and comments :p Then, it should support the Blogger API or the MetaBlog API so that I can connect to it via Blog or BlogMan to continue to post offline. Next, it should support comment spam filtering and blacklisting since I seem to get a lot of that stuff :p Finally, it would be nice if it supported a few of the template tags and the calendar feature from MT that I kinda like … but that last is not a must :-)

Of course, before people suggest (does anybody even read these entries anymore anyway? :p) alternatives, I guess I must mention what I’m looking at, at the moment :) The top three contenders on my list are: WordPress, Nucleus and b2evolution. Each one has strengths and weaknesses but I believe all of them are open source projects and so hopeufully will not suffer the same fate as MT. There is a fourth contender, ExpressionEngine, but that is a commercial application. However, they do seem to be taking advantage of the current furore over MT and are running a sort of competition where the first 1000 people to send them an e-mail get a copy of ExpressionEngine for free :p

Incidentally, I’m not looking at the core or base install of WordPress or Nucleus :p Instead, I’m looking at Wuh Wuh, a souped up version of WordPress, and Nucleus Extreme. I’ll keep you posted as to my findings :)

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