Movable Type

Movable Type 4 vs WordPress 2.2


Just the other day I was considering moving this blog into WordPress instead of the various versions of Movable Type I’ve been using to run this thing for almost four years now. There were a few reasons I was thinking about doing this:

  1. I’m a tweaker, and like to try new things
  2. I’ve used WordPress to manage several other personal blogs, and have been very impressed
  3. I know PHP much better than I know Perl, so digging around and making changes to WP would be a lot easier
  4. A lot of other web developers made the move to WordPress a couple of years ago, so there are tons of new and interesting plug-ins available
  5. It’s released under the GPL open source license, which ensures it’ll always be free, in both senses of the word.

So although I like WordPress and will continue to use it for the other sites I run, I’m glad I didn’t make the switch on quite yet. Just yesterday, Six Apart announced Movable Type 4, their first big release of the blogging software in about three years. A of the 50 new features got my attention and are making me excited to download and try out the beta:

  1. A New User Interface: Movable Type has had the same basic administration interface for as long as I’ve been using it. There have been improvements and tweaks, sure, but no big leaps in the experience have been made for a long time. Version 4 sports a completely redesigned UI, and looks like it’ll be very easy to use.
    Movable Type 4 User Interface
  2. OpenID: MT4 includes built-in support for OpenID, the distributed authentication system that is gaining traction and may someday be the method you use to login to websites.
  3. Content Management: The new version of Movable Type will include ways to create and manage non-blog content for your website. This is a really big deal for me (more below).
  4. Open Source: Movable Type 4 will be made available under the GPL license sometime later this summer. That means it’s not only free to use, you’re free to make modifications and improvements to give back to the community. There will still be a paid commercial version for businesses, schools, and others who need official support.

One of my biggest accomplishments while working at EduTech was a complete website redesign that used Movable Type as its content management system. The initial setup was not easy — I think it involved something like 10 different weblogs for each of the different sections of the site. It also meant using a lot of complicated PHP template files that still causes my head to hurt just thinking about it. I’ll just say this: If I were doing that project again today, I would not use Movable Type 3 to manage a complex website.

Movable Type 4 seems to be a completely different animal though. With the built-in ability to create and organize regular web pages, it could turn out to be a very capable light-weight CMS.

I’ve been using MODx CMS for several projects at my current job (which I’m still not at liberty to officially announce on my blog yet) with some success. There’s absolutely no integration with our Movable Type blogs though, which means two completely different interfaces for managing different parts of the site. It’d be great to bring everything in under the same system, and MT4 just might give me that opportunity.

I’m thinking of using our church website as a testing case for Movable Type 4. I still haven’t made any changes to it after I considered moving it to Drupal and MODx last year, so this would be the perfect opportunity to see what MT4 is capable of.