I think I’ve finally come to a decision regarding whether or not I’ll be sticking with MovableType going forward and that decision is a sound “no.” I’ve spent most of the past weekend obsessing over this question as should be obvious from the long and probably boring entries I’ve written on it and I apologize to anyone who’s come around lately only to think “oh crap, he’s still whining about his blogging software” as I realize this is probably about as interesting to most of you as watching paint dry. I blog about things that are important to me and this is one of those things so allow me to indulge in one more entry about it while I explain my decision to the three people who do care.
Like I said, I’m pretty certain at this point that I will be switching away from MovableType for one simple reason that I can’t rationalize my way around: The low limits put on blogs and authors under the personal license. I have no intentions of becoming a blog hosting service anytime soon, but I can not ignore that if for some reason I want to launch another blog or ask someone to guest author on SEB or any of the other blogs I maintain that I’d have to fork out another $10 on top of an already expensive license to do so. Well, I wouldn’t have to as it’s all on the honor system, but I’d feel obligated to and guilty if I didn’t. When there are so many other options out there that don’t impose limits on the number of blogs and authors I can have the prices being asked for MT are just not worth it. Sure, the new plugin API is probably going to result in some of the coolest plugins ever to come down the pike. It’s entirely possible that I could be leaving at the dawn of MT’s greatest period of functionality and development pace, but the way I look at it is simple. If such a golden age does dawn I can always plunk down my cash later and switch back. It would have to be a helluva golden age, though, so I’m not too worried about it.
The only remaining question is: What do I switch to? My first concern is not for SEB, but for the other blogs I host which are maintained by less-technically inclined family members. I need to make the choice for something that won’t be too difficult for them to master in comparison to what they’re used to in MT. I’ve pretty much narrowed it down to the free license of ExpressionEngine I picked up or WordPress. Both are able to import data from MovableType and both do a pretty good job at it so that’s not an issue and I do most of the work in terms of templates and maintenance of the various blogs so the main thing everyone else will be worried about is being able to understand how to enter and edit content. Both interfaces are pretty flexible and easy to understand in this regard though I think WordPress looks a little more friendly. The one problem I have with both of them is with how they handle uploading images for use in an entry. Neither one works quite the same way as MT and that may be a source of confusion. My sister never uses pictures in her entries, but my mother does so I need to take this into consideration.
For SEB I’m still not decided on what I’m going to use. I could certainly use WordPress without issue, but I’d definitely have to add some hacks and plugins to do some of the stuff I’m doing now. If I go with EE or Drupal I’ll add a lot of functionality into the site with a minimal of effort. ExpressionEngine, for example, comes with the feature to subscribe to comments that I had enabled as a plugin here for awhile already installed and ready to use. Drupal takes it a step further by tracking new content since your last visit and offering RSS feeds for every entry it makes. ExpressionEngine’s templating system is closer to MT’s in terms of using tags whereas Drupal’s system would require some serious learnin’ on my part to make use of. So I’m still kicking around which way I’ll go with SEB.
One more thing I have to take into consideration is the fact that ExpressionEngine is also a commercial product. I got my free license as part of their make-the-switch special offer so it’s not costing me anything to use it right now, but it will in the future when they come up with a major upgrade. That in itself isn’t a problem, but it occurs to me that there’s nothing stopping the pMachine folks from changing their license in the same way that Six Apart did. So I have to ask myself if I want to go from one proprietary system to another one and run the risk of having this same scenario play out again? Not to say that it would, but it could and I have to consider that. This is a strong argument in favor of going with Drupal and WordPress and then donating to the cause. Though I suppose if I can make the switch away from MT without too much trouble I could always make the switch away from EE just as well.
So that’s where I stand at the moment. My time with MovableType is at an end for now. The only questions remaining is what do I move to next? I’ve got EE installed and already moved Jenkins Online over to it to see what it’s like when working with multiple blogs. Tonight I’m going to show Anne what the differences in the interface between WordPress and EE are and get her opinion on which way would be the best way to go. Not sure how long coming to a decision on platforms and then actual migrations will take, but I expect to be devoting a fair amount of time on it during the next couple of weeks so expect some dust around here as we set about remodeling.