MT3. Is It For Me?

The thing that everyone who has one of these websites was talking about yesterday is the new version of Movable Type. Six Apart, the company that makes the software, unveiled Movable Type 3.0 Developer Edition complete with a new licensing scheme. The uproar began.

There’s a few issues here. The first is that Movable Type has sort of been free for personal websites. They strongly encouraged you to donate $20, but basically free. The version was not stripped down in anyway. You could have basically as many blogs as you wanted with as many authors as you wanted all on that one piece of software running on a server. This is no longer the case.

Now they have a licensing plan for personal websites as such:

  • 1 author / 3 blogs / Free
  • 3 authors / 5 blogs / $70
  • 6 authors / 8 blogs / $120
  • 9 authors / 10 blogs / $150

Now add to this the fact that prior to yesterday, Six Apart always maintained that MT3 would come in a free version and a Pro version. The Pro would obviously have many more features. Based on the information that they now have out about MT3, this no longer seems to be the case.

Many people were using Movable Type to publish many different weblogs with many different authors and now they’re seeing that if they want to upgrade they’re going to have to pay $100 or more to be able to do the same thing.

I can understand the anger and frustration. But I’m also a firm believer in paying for software. I own two copies of all my software for my two computers. Microsoft Office, Filemaker Pro, Toast, Pro Tools, etc. And having to buy lots of software for Post Production Sound, I definitely know that specialty stuff can be very expensive. Some of these companies might only sell 1000 copies of their software and they have employees to support with that. I’ve bought several pieces of audio software that are more than $1000 each. That’s just the way it goes.

However there is a bit of a personal impact on this new Movable Type development. Literally a month ago I switched this website from iBlog to Movable Type. Right now it’s setup with 1 author (me) and 1 blog (this one). Pretty easy. I’m clear to use the free version.

When you’re developing changes to your website, really shouldn’t play with the site itself. It’s better to do a test mock-up and when that is correct, apply the changes to the original site. So you need 1 more blog for testing. 1 author, 2 blogs. Still clear.

Right now I have a fairly basic configuration of my website. I’ve always planned on adding in more functionality. If you look at a lot of Movable Type tutorials, you’ll see that a lot of those say something like, “Make a new blog and delete all the templates.” A lot of the ways that people have made Movable Type do what they want is with multiple blogs all being used by the main or actual blog itself. So I can do one of these and still be free.

And then comes in the question of multiple authors. I thought that one day my brother might want to run his own. Or maybe some friends would get together and do something. Or maybe we resurrect Right Turn Clyde. Who knows. The point is that suddenly I’m not sure if 5 weblogs is enough or 6 authors. Yes, it’s not now, but do I want to lock myself into a piece of software when I find in 6 months that I need to support 20 authors and suddenly I’m looking at paying $600 for that.

I’m not quite sure what to do. I do know that when I switched to Movable Type, I had to set up a massive redirect page to handle the differences in filenames and directory structures. And that was with a site that got maybe 10 visitors a day and had about 50 entries. Now I’m getting about 40 visitors a day and I’m at nearly 90 entries, and to have to move that to a new system with new filenames and directories is a bit daunting.

I have a few things that I’d really like to be able to do with Movable Type (or with whatever my weblog software finally ends up being).

The first is better integration with BBEdit. If you’re a Mac user and you haven’t used BBEdit, you’re missing out. Big time. (There’s a piece of software I can say is completely worth the asking price.) I use BBEdit to write up my entries, check spelling (if I remember), and add all my XHTML markup. Then I copy and paste that into the MT New Entry webpage. It would be nice if it could be a bit more seamless. I already have an AppleScript in mind that would cut down on things a bit but it’s not really integration. If anyone knows of something, I’d love to hear about it.

The second is a full comments management page. Having moved from iBlog, I was using Haloscan for comments. They had a page you could log into that showed all comments from all postings. You could make replies right from that page. You could also quickly make changes to many different comments from many different pages. Much easier than the page by page system that’s in MT2.6.

The third would be dynamic sections. These could be blogrolls (lists of other blogs you like), books from Amazon, quotes of the day, whatever. But something that’s easier to go in a change quickly. Maybe it means more Bookmarklets. I don’t know. This is one area in particular where people used separate blogs to make it easier to update content.

And the fourth thing I would like to see is static pages. It’s great that MT makes all this dynamic updating and commenting easy, but everyone needs static pages too. Again, people got around this with separate blogs, and again it starts cutting into the chance of a free MT3.

Maybe my hopes and desires are in the new Movable Type 3. I haven’t downloaded it and tried it out. But another huge thing that’s missing is the “Here’s what’s new in version 3” page that every other software publisher would have up. If Six Apart had that, I might know the answer to my question.

It seems that they do have a “What’s New” page. It’s just buried under Support instead of a big shiny link on the main page. According the the “What’s New” page, they do have the comment management page I’m looking for. Yay! Not sure about the rest yet. (And I know that BBEdit integration really doesn’t have anything to do with Six Apart themselves. I’d just like to see it.)