Six Apart unveils TypePad AntiSpam.

The battle against comment spam on blogs is a never ending one. The cost to value ratio to the spammers is just too good to not take advantage of so they keep coming up with ways around the various tools we have to keep the crap comments out. Captchas help a bit, but the spammers have some programs that can crack them and others just pay people to sit down and type in captchas and legit-sounding comments to get around that obstacle. Add ons such as Bad Behavior and Akismet, the latter of which we use here at SEB, help quite a bit as well.

Now the folks at Six Apart, makers of the venerable MoveableType platform as well as TypePad and VOX, have joined in the fray with a new service called TypePad AntiSpam:

Calling all bloggers! We’d like to enlist your help in making TypePad AntiSpam the best, smartest, free antispam service available. We’ve launched this beta version in an effort to make the service smarter, and we’re counting on your feedback to provide vital information on how to defeat spam more effectively.

  • Use it for free. TypePad AntiSpam beta is free for any type of use, personal and commercial, regardless of how many comments you receive.  Plugins are available for Movable Type and WordPress.
  • Help make it better. Whenever you report unwanted comments, the TypePad AntiSpam engine learns from you, so that it can make even smarter and more effective decisions about spam in the future.
  • Get back to blogging. TypePad AntiSpam beta ensures that you see the legitimate comments you want and not the invasive comments you don’t.

It sounds like it’s somewhat similar to Akismet, it’s even 100% Akismet API compatible, and they’re making it available to everyone at no charge. They only offer plugins for MT3, 4 and WordPress at the moment, but they’re looking for folks to develop plugins for other platforms. Because of the compatibility with the Akismet API, though, any platform that has an Akismet plugin should already be able to make use of TypePad Antispam as well. In theory I should be able to sign up and switch the Akismet plugin I’m using now over to TypePad and have it work.

Also interesting is the fact that Six Apart has made the core part of the TypePad Antispam application Open Source and are offering to let other folks use it to run their own antispam services:

Interested in building your own antispam service? We’ve made the application framework behind TypePad AntiSpam available under an open source license (GPL v2, to be exact).

While we aren’t sharing all of the rules and logic that we run with our implementation of the TypePad AntiSpam engine (lest we arm spammers with too much information), we are open sourcing the core engine. This allows others to build and operate their own services—even competitive services—on top of our framework. We encourage developers who make use of the system to share what they learn with others who use the code.

Time will tell if this new service will help much in reducing the amount of comment spam that makes it onto blogs, but any additional weapons in the fight are always a welcome thing. Oh, and as always, they even have a blog to keep you up to date on new develops and plugins for other platforms.

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.

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.