Six Apart has released Movable Type Open Source.

The folks at Six Apart, makers of very popular Movable Type blogging package, announced today that the Open Source version of MT is now available. I’m not sure, but the announcement makes it sound like the Open Source version will be the official version from here on out.

The Movable Type Open Source project exists thanks to the passion, dedication, and inspiration of a community that has been incredibly generous for more than six years. We thank you for all the work leading up to this launch, and especially for the valuable contributions you’ll be making in the future. Today, we’re honoring the spirit of openness that’s always been part of the Movable Type community and taking it to its logical conclusion: Please welcome Movable Type Open Source.

A few quick answers to questions you might have about MTOS:

  • MTOS has every feature in Movable Type 4.0 along with several new minor improvements and bug fixes.
  • All plugins, themes, templates, designs, and APIs that work with MT4 work with MTOS. MTOS also works with other Six Apart open source technologies such as memcached.
  • MTOS is one of the only open source blogging tools with built-in support for an unlimited number of blogs, an unlimited number of authors, and sign-in with OpenID, with no plugins needed.
  • We’ll be adding additional paid benefits for people who’ve paid for commercial licenses for Movable Type, with benefits like improved technical support and custom add-ons such as plugins or themes.
  • MTOS is complemented by the paid software products we sell on top of the MT platform, such as our Enterprise Solution, Community Solution and personal and commercial licenses which include support.
  • There’s a public Subversion repository for getting the MTOS code and nightly builds.
  • Once there are stable public builds, those downloads will be on movabletype.org as well.
  • You can find out how to contribute to the MTOS project and the MT community at movabletype.org.
  • MTOS support is provided by other members of the community. (A great place to start is the new Movable Type Wiki.) You can buy a standard paid license for one of the existing Movable Type products if you’d like professional support directly from Six Apart.
  • Movable Type Open Source is being released under the standard GPL license.
  • We welcome and encourage the distribution and reuse of all or part of MTOS in other open source projects. Get in touch if you want to work together.

Be sure to check out the full MTOS details for more details on how MTOS works, a list of Frequently Asked Questions, and information about how you can contribute.

The weird part of this announcement is that it pretty much sets things back to the way they were prior to the licensing fiasco at the release of version 3.0. Despite not being officially Open Source, pre-3.0 MT was freely available, fully modifiable, and unrestricted in the number of blogs and authors you could have which is part of what made it so popular. The only real difference is that with the move to Open Source it’s possible a branch could split off if enough of the community decides to take on such a project. My first thought is to question why they bothered with the whole licensing issue at 3.0 to begin with, but I actually do understand why it just seems silly when you have the benefit of hindsight. Making MT Open Source back with the release of 3.0 would’ve probably been the best move at the time, but better late than never.

A comparison of Movable Type 4.0 vs. Expression Engine 1.6.

With all the attention I’ve given to the release of Movable Type 4.0 lately I’ve had a couple of people ask me if I was thinking of switching back or if I’d lost my enthusiasm for Expression Engine. I am excited to see MT get some much-needed loving from the folks at Six Apart, but for the time being at least I’ll be sticking with EE. In part because it still does more than I need it to and, while MT 4.0 has caught up in some areas, it hasn’t exactly surpassed EE in many ways as of yet. Making the switch back would be a lot of work and without a killer app on MT’s side to tempt me it’s just not worth the effort at this point in time.

Still I get asked for a comparison between the two platforms from time to time and I’ve posted a few of my thoughts in various blog entries, but I thought this article by Travis Smith at CMS Wire did a pretty decent comparison so I thought I’d pass it along for those of you who are interested.

Got an iPhone and a MovableType/TypePad blog? You’re gonna be happy.

The folks at SixApart have released a couple of new plugins, one for TypePad and one for MovableType, that allow you to blog from your iPhone and iPod touch:

Today we are happy to announce Movable Type for the iPhone and iPod Touch, made possible through a plugin developed by Brad Choate that makes use of the design developed by Walt Dickinson for TypePad. The plugin works by installing an alternate template set that is automatically used in place of the primary Movable Type user interface when the application is accessed via an iPhone or iPod Touch. The integration with Movable Type is totally seamless.

Not sure if this is any easier than blogging from any other mobile device, but it does give you one more thing you can use to try and justify the cost of an iPhone.

Movable Type 4.0 unleashed upon the world today.

It’s going to be a big day for fans of Six Apart’s venerable blogging platform as the official release of MT 4.0 is now available. Constituting the biggest overhaul of the platform since it was first released it brings with it scores of new features including some long awaited ones such as a WYSIWYG editor, native user accounts as well as support for TypeKey, OpenID, VOX, and Live Journal authentication, built-in podcast module, and a completely redesigned and optimized back end.

I’ve been playing around with the release candidates on a test install and I’m very impressed. What’s even more interesting is that MT4 appears to be taking a much more modular approach similar to what EllisLabs has done with ExpressionEngine. The main MT website also lists off an Enterprise Solution and a Community Solution that are actually modules that add on to the core MT code base. The Community Solution looks particularly appealing for sites like SEB as it adds features such as Community Blogging, Member Profiles, Recommendations (think Digg style entry ranking), and Community Buzz (most popular Recommendations). I was under the impression that the Enterprise and Community Solutions would have to be purchased, but I don’t see anything in the way of prices listed at the moment. Perhaps they just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

The licensing issue was of particular interest to me as it was the changes made on the release of 3.0 that was partially responsible for my move to ExpressionEngine and it does appear that the terms have changed since the last time I looked at them. For example after the initial shock over the pricing for the personal license hit the net Six Apart revised it so that a personal license was once again free, but limited to 3 blogs and 1 author which still wouldn’t have worked for the set up I maintain. Today the personal license allows unlimited weblogs and authors in perpetuity so long as you don’t mind not getting any official support from the folks at Six Apart. Support is offered as an ala carte option for Personal License holders costing $49.95 for one year, but there’s enough of a community out there and enough documentation available that most folks capable of setting up MT on their own to begin with probably won’t need much official support and those that do would probably be better off going with Six Apart’s TypePad hosted service anyway. I’m curious how the Open Source version of MT 4 will differ from the free personal license.

It’ll be interesting to see how the other blogging platforms will react to this new version of Movable Type. Naturally I’m most interested in seeing what EllisLabs has in store with ExpressionEngine 2.0 which they’ve been quite tight lipped about. There’s some interesting new goodies in MT 4 and I’m hoping EE steps up to the plate with some equally compelling new features in its next big update.

Six Apart releases Movable Type 4 Release Candidate.

Those of you who are running blogs on the Movable Type platform will probably be excited to hear that Six Apart has unleashed the MT4 Release Candidate. Here’s some of the goodies this new version of MT4 will bring with it:

  • We incorporated over three dozen new themes built right into Movable Type because you told us how important a good collection of professional designs is.
  • We bundled podcasting support into the core application and integrated it with MT4’s smart media library, to let you easily create podcasts, videocasts, or even photocasts from the content you upload.
  • You told us you loved the WYSIWYG editor but wanted it to be even more meticulous about the HTML it outputs, to make sure it works correctly with your markup. Done.
  • We iterated through a number of significant changes to the primary navigation of the application, refining each version based directly on user feedback and testing.
  • We toiled over every pixel on the screen, revisiting each of Movable Type’s icons to make them clearer and more intuitive.
  • New in this release is API support that makes Movable Type 100% compatible with Nokia’s LifeBlog application, allowing many users to blog directly from a mobile phone – without the need of an intermediary.
  • And of course we fixed hundreds of bugs, many of which we probably couldn’t have found without the help of our beta testers. More often than not, you went the extra mile to collect data for us, help us in reproducing the bug and then verifying the fixes we provided. Thanks!

I’ve been playing with one of the beta versions on a test setup and I am impressed. This is what Movable Type 3 should have been when it was released so long ago. I’m particularly impressed with the built-in podcasting module as that’s something I’ve been interested in trying for awhile if I could ever think of something to bother making a podcast about and having it built in would increase the likelihood I’d try it out. Lastly the new WYSIWYG editor it has is just this side of perfect.

Supposedly MT4 has a built-in member registration system, but I’m not entirely certain I’ve been able to locate it. What I’ve found so far doesn’t seem like a user registration system to me and offers none of the member profile options that ExpressionEngine does. MT4 also continues to be this weird amalgamation of static/dynamic blogging. By default it wants to make static pages and the dynamic aspect still very much feels like it was tacked on to appease folks who wanted to use MT dynamically.  Overall this is a big step up from previous versions of Movable Type and folks who run MT are going to love it, but it’s still not everything I’d like it to be. I’ll be sticking with EE for the time being.

Six Apart releases beta version of MovableType 4.

Long time SEB readers know that back in the beginning we ran on the uber-popular MovableType blog platform up until they released version 3.0 and put a prohibitively expensive licensing system into place. By the time Six Apart recovered from the firestorm that broke out over the licensing issue we had managed to land one of the 1,000 free ExpressionEngine Personal Licenses that the folks at EllisLab handed out to take advantage of Six Apart’s misstep and we made the jump to EE.

The outrageous licensing issue and the free EE key were only part of the reason we made the jump, though. MovableType 3.0 was billed as a major release and it did include some notable new features, but it was so long in coming and was so much less than what had been discussed in the past that it was a disappointment for a lot of folks including myself. At the time Six Apart was busy with their TypePad hosted solution that seemed to be getting all the new features love while MT seemed to have been forgotten. The biggest improvement in 3.0 was the new plugins system they added that allowed third-party developers to work plugins into the system just about anywhere, but it would be awhile before that system would be taken advantage of and it contributed to the feeling that Six Apart was setting MT up to rely on third-parties to add any new features folks wanted so they could concentrate on the more profitable TypePad. Since then Six Apart has gone on to give MT more of the attention it deserves, but it still seemed to me to be lagging behind other platforms such as EE and WordPress unless, that is, you wanted to shell out the big bucks for the Enterprise edition they eventually released.

So the release of the beta of MT4 comes as a pleasant surprise as it appears to be a major reworking of the code base. Here’s a brief listing of some of the new goodies from the MT4 Announcement:

What’s new in Movable Type 4?

With more than 50 new features, MT4 will enable you to quickly start a blog, easily manage entire blog websites, and better connect with your audience. Here’s some of what’s new in MT4:

  • A completely redesigned user interface
  • It’s easy to install and easy to get started
  • Get an at-a-glance summary of your blog activity from content to contributors on our new dashboard
  • Easily insert text, photos, files and more with a rich WYSIWYG editing
  • Built-in asset, photo and file management
  • Support for creating standalone pages that automatically inherit your blog’s design
  • Built-in member registration system for reader and comment authentication
  • Support for OpenID
  • Aggregate posts from multiple blogs into a single blog
  • Expanded options for archiving and displaying content
  • And much more…

Some of those, such as a built-in member registration system, are features I know I had been clamoring for back when I was still running MT and active in its user community. It appears that quite a few of the goodies that TypePad users have enjoyed for a long time will now be available to MT users as well and it’s interesting to note that some of the features mimic long-standing features of other packages such as EE and WordPress. Most interesting of all, however, is word that Six Apart plans to release an Open Source version of MT 4 later this year.

I played around a bit with a MT4 Demo installation the folks at Pro IT Service have made available and I have to admit that I’m very impressed so far. You can only do so much with the demo version so it’s hard to say how it handles things like the multi-blog aggregations and such, but the WYSIWYG editor is very nice and the simple interface is impressive. It does have support for one feature that I’d love see become native in ExpressionEngine: Tagging, but I believe that’s been in for a while now added at some point in the MT 3.x series.

All in all the MT4 Beta is intriguing enough that I’ll probably download a copy to try out so I can get to the nitty-gritty under the hood. I have no immediate plans to migrate off of ExpressionEngine at the moment, but I like to keep up with what the alternatives are offering these days and I’ll never say that I won’t ever consider making the jump back to MovableType as I once wrongly claimed that I’d never leave MT. There’s a number of EE features I’ve gotten used to having that still aren’t part of the default MT package though a fair number of them could be emulated with plugins. Still for people who are jumping into blog that don’t want to go with a hosted solution MT once more seems like a promising option. If nothing else, die hard MT fans should be plenty happy with the new goodies they’ll have available to them.

You can keep track of the beta’s progress as well as the upcoming Open Source version at the newly revived MovableType.org website.