Swallowing my chill pill with my morning coffee.

Wow, wasn’t yesterday a fun day in the blogosphere? OK, stupid question. It probably wasn’t all that enjoyable for most MT fans and was probably a particularly bad day over at Six Apart. Last I checked Mena’s entry talking briefly about the new licenses had over 343 Trackbacks, 344 with this one, the vast majority of which are less than glowing over the announcement.

Yeah, that’s a major understatement on my part.

Seeing as I’m probably as responsible as anyone else for the wildfire that erupted across the blogosphere yesterday, my own entry on it generated the most trackbacks I’ve ever gotten on anything I’ve ever written, I’d like to take a moment to publicly swallow my Chill Pill™ as suggested by the lovely Dr. Browne and spend a few moments reflecting on the situation with a calmer head.

As far as I’m aware the folks at Six Apart haven’t said anything publicly about the uproar at this point, though I suspect we’ll hear something official soon. Behind the scenes some of the folks who know the Trott’s personally, such as Jay Allen, have been doing their part to try and calm the storm. Rather than try to speak for Six Apart, though, Jay has mainly been asking folks to calm down and hinting that this may largely be a misunderstanding on everyone’s part as well as a communications boo-boo on the part of SA. I’ll be the first to admit that I could be mistaken about what the reality of the situation is and will have overreacted if my suspicions turn out to be true.

The first clue about all of this is a PC World article on the release of MT3.0D that was published yesterday in which the following quote is provided:

“We’ll still have a fully functional free version for personal use,” adds Chief Executive Officer Mena Trott. A personal version that includes technical support from Six Apart costs $45.

Now if you’ve been by the license page for MT3.0D you already know that there’s no option there for a personal license that costs only $45. Indeed, the PC World article goes on to describe the Personal License as starting at $99 not two paragraphs later. So what the hell is going on here? Backing up a little we see the following blurb:

Six Apart plans to offer a general release of Movable Type within two months, when it will also announce winners of its add-on development contest.

Admittedly the distinction of this release being a “Developer” release has been missed or misread by a lot of folks, myself included. This isn’t the General Release many people were expecting, that’ll come later, but they aren’t limiting this release to developers only so that any diehard MT users that want to can make use of it. The PC World article seems to suggest that the licensing schemas currently on the MT webpage may be for the “developer” version and not the general release due to come later. Some of the hints from folks “in the know” also seem to be suggesting this as well.

This has prompted me to go back and re-read Mena’s entry a little more closely as well as to study the licensing schemas as presented on the MT homepage and I can see where it’s a possibility that the licenses currently on the site would only apply to the Developer’s Edition and not the yet-to-arrive General Release, but if that is the case the language used in both the announcement and the licenses themselves do not make this at all clear. There is little in any of the licensing pages that would indicate that these would only apply to the Developer Edition of MT and considering that the only real difference between the Developer Edition and the General Release will be that the latter will have more bugs squished and come with the winning entries from the Plug-in contest SA is running it’s hard to imagine how the General Release licenses would be all that different. Still, I’m willing to entertain the possibility for the moment.

I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, but at the same time I think it’s only fair of me to help calm the storm I contributed to and own up to the possibility that this is a misunderstanding. So here’s what I’m asking of the MT community at the moment: Join me in taking a much needed Chill Pill™ and a deep breath and let’s wait and see what Six Apart has to say about all of this.

I can only speculate at this point on what that might be. Maybe they goofed the announcement and had something in mind for the General Release that differs from the Developers Edition. Maybe the didn’t, but after all of the furor they’ve decided to reevaluate their plans. Maybe the Trott’s have been secretly replaced with Folger’s Crystals to see if anyone would notice. Who knows? The possibilities are endless.

All I do know is that Six Apart isn’t, as some folks have declared, an evil company bent on World Domination along the same lines as Microsoft. I also know that even if it turns out that I can’t afford to use MT going forward that I still had access to a great tool for over two years that definitely is worth more than the measly $20 I donated to it way back when and I am grateful for that. A lot of the rest of you should be as well.

6 thoughts on “Swallowing my chill pill with my morning coffee.

  1. I’m hoping you’re right.  The splasing of “Developer Edition” certainly hint at what you’re saying.

    What I’ve got to wonder however, is given the size of the furore over this… how come SixApart, haven’t decided to say anything yet?

    They’ve been criticised for a long while now for being a bit tight on the communication, this is turning into another example, which this time could do them a lot of harm.

    You’re right, it’s worth taking a while to step back and see what happens, but if SA don’t get their act together and clarify things the current misunderstandings (if they are) will do a lot of damage.

  2. I hope you’re right.  As I said over on my site, I think MT’s a good piece of software. I used it for over 18 months, and I really do want them to succeed.  I think their pricing levels (not the fact that it’s costing $$ in and of itself) has caused a backlash.  If it was really a PR blunder, I wonder how much of the damage has become irrepairable already.

  3. This isn’t just effecting the MT community.  Slashdot has an article about this change and suggests WordPress as a viable free alternative.  The WordPress community has been growing nicely but it appears this could cause a sudden huge rush of folks over our way.  It will be interesting to see what happens.

  4. Tubedogg, you’d be surprised how optimistic I can be considering how often I’m told what a pessimist I am.

    In all honesty there are probably plenty of people out there who want MT to stay free and unlimited as it always has, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that the majority of us don’t recognize the value of the software or weren’t aware that it would likely go to a fee-based system at some point. And while I’ve certainly been vocal about my disappointment at the fact that 3.0 isn’t a features-release, I think that pales as a concern in the face of the highly restrictive nature of the new licenses in terms of blogs and authors.

    Is the damage irreparable? I don’t think so, though certainly I know of folks who have already converted their blogs over to WordPress and other offerings within the past 24 hours. The longer they wait to address the issue and (more importantly) how they address it will play a role in how much of the damage can be repaired.

    Even if nothing changes I don’t think this will be the end of Six Apart or MovableType as, if nothing else, it still appears to be a very worthwhile product for the business folks to make use of. Considering how little revenue they were getting from donations already it’s arguable how much of a loss it would be if most of the hobbyist left for other pastures.

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