movable type changes

| 18 Comments | 11 TrackBacks

It's not easy to find much "hard" information on what just happened with MT licensing (SixApart's web site is far from a masterpiece of information architecture), so I've mostly been reading commentary on various blog posts. (I found out about it because of a trackback from scribblingwoman to my MT courseware post.)

It's not clear to me if the new charges will apply to users of pre 3.0 versions of MT. If so, that means everyone using my courseware for more than one class--including me--is pretty much screwed. And since I'm not willing to pay a licensing fee of $150 to use MT for the handful of family members on, this probably will result in my migrating both my personal and my professional weblogs to another platform. (Let me add that I am willing to pay for MT; I'm just not willing to pay that much.)

From what I can see, regardless of how it all shakes out in terms of licenses and wording, this was a major screwup by SixApart in terms of communication and respect for their users. I'm deeply disappointed. And since I genuinely like and respect the Six Apart team--especially Anil and Joi, who I know well and think of as friends--I'm doubly surprised by the clumsiness of this move. As Simon Phipps points out, the response to Mena's post announcing the changes is a sobering demonstration of the power of trackback to make unhappy customers' voices heard. I imagine that a lot of companies will take this as a cautionary lesson about the negative impact of corporate blogs and the conversations they foster. I'm also disappointed by the company's failure to quickly respond to the outcry from their user community--the longer they stay silent on this, the more likely it is that they'll lose formerly committed users to competitive products.

Meanwhile, however, courseware users need not panic...I'll probably spend some time next month looking at WordPress and TextPattern (which seem to come highly recommended by bloggers whose viewpoints I trust) to see if I can create one or more new versions of my courseware on those platforms (I can't imagine it would be that difficult to migrate the courseware).

I'll also add a Creative Commons license to the courseware templates and documentation, so that if anyone else wants to shift them elsewhere, they can.


Update: I've heard from Anil that there will be a very reasonable educational license provided, and that details will be announced soon. Once that happens, I'll write more about the future of MT courseware and my educational use of the product. I know Six Apart is committed to encouraging educational uses of their products, so I'm hoping that the educational license(s) they announce will be fair and appropriate.

11 TrackBacks

The professor at RIT who introduced me to all this Movable Type stuff (the software behind this Web log) has sounded the alarm that Six Apart (the company that makes Movable Type) is going to start charging for it's previously... Read More

Catching up on some of my aggregated reading this morning, I learned of the change in licensing and price structure Read More

I have been using Moveable Type, not only for this blog, but for all of the Oyzons as well as for courses I teach. 12 blogs altogether so far. Liz posted this bit yesterday about a new pricing scheme for... Read More

MovableType 3.0 from daveynin's thing on May 15, 2004 11:01 AM

I have been using Movable Type for one and half years. I love Movable Type (MT). Until yesterday, I read Jake of 8-bit Joystick and mamamusings� blogs; they are talking about new version of Movable Type. It�s version of MT... Read More

Harrumph. from Planned Obsolescence on May 15, 2004 5:46 PM

So everybody’s talking about the Movable Type upgrade/fiasco (see also here, and here, and here, among too many other sources to link. The problems with Six Apart’s announcement of its new release and pricing structure are, as you can see, ... Read More

What About Manila? from Weblogg-ed - Using Weblogs and RSS in Education on May 16, 2004 10:18 AM

The big news in blog application ville is that Moveable Type has upped their pricing which seems to be freezing out a number of university blogging teachers who had set up multiple sites for their students. Read More

The New Blogger... from Education/Technology - Tim Lauer on May 16, 2004 2:22 PM

Bryan Bell points to this post (Stopdesign | The New Blogger) by Douglas Bowman about the new Blogger role out and some of the design considerations that went into the redesign. I launched my Blogger account and took a look around and was very impresse... Read More

Last week Liz Lawley wrote what I thought was a very thoughtful piece, both at her weblog and at Many-to-Many. She wrote: I think we’re watching a significant moment in weblog history. Justified or not, the anger among MovableType’s us... Read More

Jumping Ship from London and the North on May 20, 2004 9:14 AM

I'm following the Movable Type debate with interest and discomfort. I lurv the challenge in moving on to new coded fields but something about this don't feel right. Am I being naive? It's worth reading what The Others are... Read More

The professor at RIT who introduced me to all this Movable Type stuff (the software behind this Web log) has sounded the alarm that Six Apart (the company that makes Movable Type) is going to start charging for it's previously... Read More

Catching up on some of my aggregated reading this morning, I learned of the change in licensing and price structure with the release of MovableType Version 3. Dr. Lawley at mamamusings expresses shared concerns over the transition. I am not... Read More


I'm looking into Expression Engine for my online classes. I've also used pMachine, but I prefer MT because I'm most comfortable with its features.

I really like Expression Engine, but the price tag is pretty steep at $149 for non-commercial use. Movable Type has worked well for me, but maybe this is the excuse I need to try out something new.

My hosting provider offers the following blog aps: b2, b2evolution, Nucleus, pMachine Free and WordPress.

I've just installed WordPress and am not trying to figure out how to do the multiple authors and customize design thing. (WordPress does have a page explaining how one would import MT entries - which is nice).

Will let you know how it goes.

I'd rather switch than fight.

WordPress allows for multiple authors - not multiple blogs.

Am now moving on to b2Evolution...

I got tired of having to rebuild my pages and I wanted to run on a slow server - so my blog left the MT platform and switched to WordPress about 2 months ago.

Like weez says, it doesn't allow for multiple blogs. It wouldn't be that difficult to just create multiple installs, but it can be kind of annoying. I did have to do a little bit of hacking the php code to get everything working just the way I wanted it. I like wordpress because it doesn't make me rebuild pages and is dynamic, it only has two templates to edit as opposed to the multiple MT templates, and because php is much faster than perl even with modperl on my 132MHz mac linux server.

I think Six Apart is really shooting themselves in the foot here with this price scheme. It's just too high, I think they could make more money if they charged less because more people would buy it... simple supply and demand economics.

I'm going to be working this summer on a WordPress installer/admin thingy that will allow for a bit easier multipile installs (I hope).

Hi Liz,

I was a MovableType 3 alpha/beta tester and plugin developer, but because I share my blog with my girlfriend I no longer qualify for the free version of MT3. It's really a shame, as I was enjoying the community vibe of the MT3 beta blog, and was quite satisfied with the rapport I was beginning to build with some members of the 6A development team. Yesterday evening, however, I migrated to WordPress (which took approximately 10 minutes from start to finish), and I don't think I'm looking back.

I'm interested in helping migrate courseware as a means of learning the ropes of the other web-based publishing platforms (WordPress/TextPattern/etc.).

If you're interested in some help, feel free to email me or find me on #joiito (crw). :)

On the educational pricing, thanks for working with them, Liz. My guess is this is not familiar territory for them, and feedback from key players in the field will help. On the personal pricing, since I originally donated to Six Apart, I'll pay almost nothing for my license (which I read as for 2.66* or 3.0, but without tech support for 3.0 while it's in the development phase).

Don't worry: they can't change the license retroactively, unless it has some sort of expiration/revocation term, which it doesn't. So at least the people who grabbed a copy of 2.x so far, will be able to keep using them under the same terms.

The blogwide reaction on this is a bit out of proportion and unfair. Most people seem to have missed the distinction made between the current release (a developer edition) and a future one (a free one, albeit with limitations).

The fact that there is no penalty whatever in continuing to use whatever release is currently installed seems to have escaped everyone's attention.

But let's say everyone did have to pay for it. People have gotten used to high level of professionalism from the SixApart folk. Professionals get paid.

Or, to put it another way, you get what you pay for. Is it such a bad thing to pay for something good?

I'm not even a current user of MT, since my host doesn't support it, but it perturbs me no end to see the masses jumping to excoriate the Trotts. (Not that I'm lumping you in with the masses, Liz--yours was one of the more measured responses out and about today....)

~end of mini-rant

I suspect that they can change the license retrospectively. And from what I can see on the page, the license applies to 2.661, not just 3.0.

Most of the complaints I've seen have come from people who have said they're more than willing to pay for a tool like MT, but not at the steep rates that are currently listed.

If you're going to switch from free to fee, you have to do so in a way that respects the users who've built up your market share and your reputation. Otherwise it looks like classic "bait and switch"--particularly if it covers existing 2.x users, which still hasn't been clearly addressed.

I'm wth weez on this ... I'd rather switch than fight. I don't do a lot of blogging but I do have course blogs for my courses and a personal one and am working on a multi-author project blog with my family (that puts me over the top as far as the new license).

I don't have a problem with anyone making money on a quality product ... but the restrictions on the license combined with the fees means that the product no longer meets my needs.

I'm not criticizing anyone for any business decisions. But, I make business decisions everyday myself. This is a no brainer ... I need a different product that DOES meet my needs.

Bottom line: I'll get a new blog tool without harboring any hard feelings about MT. It seems they'll have enough of that without me.

In the end, there is no such thing as a profit anyway ... there is only the cost of staying in business (Drucker). So how long do you stay in business when the very people that put you in business to start with (non profit/personal users) decide they'd rather switch?

Textpattern is quite nice. I moved my site from Moveable Type to Textpattern a few months back and have really enjoyed using it.

That said, as mentioned about, if 2.661 works for you, then you may as well stick with. If you are happy with your current setup, why bother moving.

Take a look at "theswitched!blog" - the blog for MT to WP crossovers. Feel free to register and add your own entries. - theSwitched!Blog

with as many users as a class would have... maybe you'd find advantages in Drupal?

Drupal has built-in support for single author blogs. and these are integrated automagically.

Kairos news makes good use of this feature: ">

additionally, there are group features that can make the experience different. (like seeing who's online, etc etc)


For anyone who is complying with the license of 2.661 or below, there is no requirement to upgrade to 3.0 or any future version of Movable Type. The license which was in effect when you downloaded your version of Movable Type is the one that applies to your copy.

Actually, I think you'll find the roots of this whole debacle in the attitudes of Anil and Joi. They've been so "cool" on the web for so long, they've come to think everyone will just go along with them for the style of the thing. And, in general, people will. Until you try to pick their pockets. Then cool does not rule.

I'll bet folding money this had to do with Joi wanting to see a little return. How solvent is he, anyway?

I'm about to go live with a personal Textpattern blog, switching from MT. I began the switch before the MT3 pricing structure was published. After looking carefully at the features & implementation of the two products I decided Txp was a more _writerly_ tool. And since I'm a writer, Txp is the right choice for me.

Txp is easy to work with, clear & intuitive. I think it will be better for use with impatient, short attention span students, too. (How do I know? Because I'm an impatient, short atention span professor, that's how.) So, Liz, it would be really cool if you ported your courseware to Txp.

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