Movable Type Goes Open Source

For reasons I can only speculate about two of my most popular articles to date remain “The Next Big Thing In Blogging Software” and “a year later: an overview of multiblog software options“. The first was written over four years ago and the second just under three years ago. In the online world that is eons.

One might ask that if these have proven to be such popular articles why not update them more frequently. To be honest about it this blog is as much for me to remember and track my interests and solutions to technical problems as it is to share knowledge and information with you the reader. Given the significant amount of time which was invested in installing, testing and reviewing the blog software choices and the return on investment it simply doesn’t make sense to spend the time to do an annual or even semi-annual update. This is primarily because I have been extremely happy with my chosen solution, b2evolution and despite the continued prevalence of WordPress in the blogosphere I see no compelling reason to change and one good reason to stay with b2evolution, multiblogging. Despite the continued development of WordPressMU it remains a sort of kludge which may or may not work in your specific instance. b2evolution, on the other hand, was built from the ground up to support multiple users and blogs so support exists throughout the product. This is reason enough for me to stick with b2evolution, the blogging software that I still believe is undervalued and an excellent choice for the vast majority of independent blogging sites.

For those that have forgotten once upon a time the independent blogging software market was ruled by Greymatter and after it’s discontinuation by Movable Type. There were no other serious contenders. All was good in the land of the blogger, then the sky fell. As I wrote four years ago…

On May 13, 2004 Six Apart, the company behind Movable Type, announced the long-awaited version 3.0. With this blog entry they also single handedly managed to start the demise of the Movable Type monopoly and changed the face of blogging software forever.

What they did was try to commercialize what had been free software while maintaining a crippled free version to placate complainers. As it turned out this was perhaps the biggest mistake Six Apart ever made. As bloggers such as myself became vocal about these changes and provided developing alternatives which were improving on a daily basis the vast majority of independent bloggers abandoned Movable Type for other platforms such as WordPress and b2evolution. I have an unsubstantiated hunch that my prediction of the demise of Six Apart became a haunting reality for the company who saw customers fleeing by the thousands. Although they retained some market share, particularly among the commercial bloggers it would never be the same for Movable Type, once the king of the bloggers.

Despite attempts to rectify the situation and improve the pricing structure it seems that eventually the stubborn Six Apart came to realize the gravity of their mistake. In December 2007, more than three years after that infamous day, Six Apart made what I believe to be one last ditch effort to regain the market share they once had. It was then that Six Apart announced “as of today, and forever forward” Movable Type would be open source. Finally a victory for those who complained so mightily about that initial pricing structure.

How does this change things? It doesn’t really. Movable Type will never again see the market penetration it once had. The decision to go open source is far too late to have that kind of transformational effect. The market has become far too diluted and there is no single competitor (WordPress would be closest) to try and overtake. If it would have been made shortly after the original backlash we would probably all still be running Movable Type for out blogging needs as many of the other contenders would never have seen the development influx they did in the weeks and months after the MT 3.0 announcement. Certainly there is now a possibility that over time Movable Type will innovate and become a serious contender but for the time being it will remain a WordPress (and b2evolution) world. I applaud the move made by Six Apart and it probably will keep the Movable Type software alive and viable for the time being but it’s too bad this lesson was such a hard one for Six Apart. Better late than never. At lest the sentiment is right.


  1. b2evolution is the best out there. I not only know it from experience, but I know it because of the author of this blog (aka Ben! Ben! Ben!) helped me with my site and after testing several blogging software, b2evolution was clearly superior. You don’t see the MT and WP spambots affect b2evolution much because of all it’s antispam capabilities. Blog software where you don’t need captchas or user registrations. Cool beans. And thanks, Ben!