Movable Type 3.3 is out

Six Apart have now released version 3.3 of Movable Type, complete with an enterprise version for organisations with thousands of users which, among other things, supports the Oracle database as well as the usual open-source databases like MySQL (which I suspect the overwhelming majority of MT users use). Oh, and among the other innovations is that the software is (once again) completely free for personal users, unless your definition of “free” is the Free Software Foundation’s.

Being a paid-up MT user with an update key and an unlimited blog and user licence, albeit for personal use, I decided I immediately had to get hold of the new version. Unfortunately, Six Apart’s documentation, unless it’s just early days following the new upgrade, is not up to what it was before. The online manual has become a PDF download, and the version I ended up downloading with each attempt was the Enterprise version. This is rather frustrating and confusing, to say the least, and I really do hope they reinstate the online version quickly.

Upgrade instructions are basically not there, either. Upgrading a well-customised version of Movable Type is not for the faint-hearted although some of the features which had to be downloaded separately before are now included in the basic package (for example, the StyleCatcher plugin, similar to the WordPress style selector). There’s “a clean new default style” which I never got to see because I got one of my styles from the Style Generator and another (the one you see on this blog, massively re-done) from the Style Contest. The Style Library themes are the same as before; although anyone can build a MT style repository, as far as I know nobody except Six Apart has done so.

New features in this version include support for tags (I’m not sure if it’s Technorati or some other type of tag) and for “widgets”, a kind of drag-and-drop method of adding and removing content and features such as RSS feeds. The feature list mentions the Atom and Metaweblog APIs, both of which are methods of carrying out administration tasks using a special program (like ecto, w.Bloggar and so on) rather than through a web interface. A nice feature is the ability to grow or shrink the editing windows when composing entries, although the buttons which do this are confusingly just labelled “bigger” and “smaller”. Since the font has also grown, I thought these were to grow and shrink the editing font. (They’ve not introduced a WYSIWYG editor, which is welcome in my opinion. I preferred the simple editor in WordPress 1.5 to the WYSIWYG one of WP2, and anyone who wants a WYSIWYG editor can go get ecto or another desktop blogging tool.)

As for whether I’d recommend this product, I have to say I’ve really enjoyed using MT over the past year. Until last summer it was a byword for a miserable spam-ridden blogging experience, all of which changed with version 3.2 and the SpamLookup plugin, which isolates comments and trackbacks from known spam sources. I was hoping that they’d build in a non-blog “pages” function like that of WordPress, but this feature is perhaps more suited to the dynamic publishing of WordPress than to MT’s norm of static publishing with rebuilds; MT’s flexible dynamic publishing (used on this blog) is very useful, however. I’d now recommend this to anyone starting out on their own space; anyone with a single blog using WordPress might see no reason to make the move, however.

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