I dropped by the Six Apart website to see what’s new with the blogging package I used to use and came across this press release announcing MovableType 3.3 and Enterprise versions. It was interesting to see that, buried near the bottom of the release, Six Apart has decided to remove the blog and author restrictions they’d placed on the free (but unsupported) Personal License version of MT. Now you can have as many authors and blogs under the free version of MT as you’d like. You only pay for a license if you want to get support from the company.
When Six Apart first instituted licenses for MovableType two years ago with the release of v3.0 the free personal license was restricted to one author and three blogs and you had to buy a license if you wanted more then that. The whole reason I switched to ExpressionEngine from MovableType was because the license fee to keep running the setup I had going under MT would’ve cost me close to $200 and I just didn’t have it at the time. When I managed to land a free license from the folks at pMachine—through the promotion they started to take advantage of the Six Apart controversy—it pretty much sealed the deal and I jumped ship. Later Six Apart loosened the restrictions a bit more on the free version, but there were still limits that would’ve required me to buy a license. Now it’s back to where it was before they set up the licensing plans to begin with and it looks like they’re introducing some interesting new features that set it apart from the crowd a bit. MT now supports tagging of entries, widgets similar to Typepad, feeds of all manner including some that can be used to manage comments and trackbacks, something called Transformer Plugins, etcetera. If you’re still using MT then this new version looks like a worthy upgrade.
Another interesting development with Six Apart is the upcoming release of a new hosted blogging service called Vox that is currently available only via invitation from the company as they test it out. I’m not entirely sure how Vox is supposed to be different from TypePad, but the primary selling point according to the What is Vox website is that it gives you more control:
How is Vox different from other blogging services?
We think there’s a need for a different kind of communication service. We’ve learned from the best bloggers in the world – our customers – that there’s a time for publishing to the world and a time for communicating with just friends and family. Many people still don’t blog because they don’t want to post private stories and photos and have them viewed by outsiders.
With Vox, we’ve given people control over what they share and who they share it with. We believe that control over privacy will give people the freedom to write and share with the people they care about.
We also believe that the promise of the Web is best fulfilled when stuff “just works.” Vox uses the latest technology to make the experience of posting, editing, and managing as easy as possible. And Vox plays well with other web services. We’ve made it incredibly simple to import from the services you already use, such as Amazon.com, YouTube, and others. Look for cooperation with other services to be a hallmark of Vox.
How is Vox different from TypePad, Movable Type, and LiveJournal?
TypePad and Movable Type are the first choice for professionals, businesses, and anyone who needs to take complete control of their public-facing communications. They are the ultimate ad-free tools for commercial blogging.
LiveJournal has grown to be an amazing community of fiercely independent bloggers. Over the past seven years, that community has developed in both its scope and its need for powerful customization. We think that Vox will be a great choice for bloggers looking for a more turnkey environment that balances community and privacy.
I played around with TypePad a little back when they were first developing it and it was a lot like MovableType but with a lot of stuff added to it that made it a lot easier to setup and use. Now it appears some of those features are finally making their way into MovableType 3.3. Vox sounds like a reinvention of TypePad to try and make a system that’s even easier to use and that integrates with outside services so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Vox will even cross-post back to your TypePad blog if you have one. I’ve not been able to locate anything in the way of what Vox is going to cost (if anything).
I’ve got to give the folks at Six Apart kudos for managing to take blogging and make it as easy as possible to get into without having to sacrifice having the power-features you’d normally get from hosting a package yourself via MovableType/Wordpress/ExpressionEngine. TypePad is very flexible at an affordable price and is a big hit as a result. Now Vox looks set to improve upon it.