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The Whole MovableType Mess

I'm a MovableType user. Version 2.661 powers this site. The software is great, powerful, and has worked well for quite a while. I, like most of the world, have been waiting patiently for version 3.0 to be released. I was part of the beta team, though I didn't have time to test it like I wanted (nor did I feel comfortable testing it on this site because of all the trouble people were having installing the beta). The beta process as a whole wasn't handled too well, either, with numerous bugs, poor communication, and other problems.

Then came a simple announcement that nobody in the community expected. Version 3.0 will, for the most part, be a paid product. Yes, there is a free version, but it limits a great deal of people's usage of things. And the pricing structure and licensing of things made a bunch of folks angry, though SixApart answered and addressed most of the questions in a follow-up post.

MovableType is great software, there is no doubt about that. And, I agree with Ken (partially) that MT should cost money. My gripe is two-fold:

  1. The lack of communication from SixApart. There was no rumors, no hints, no nothing that this was coming. Beta testers and long-time users were completely thrown for a loop with this.
  2. Better care of the community by SixApart. There are hundreds of developers out there writing wonderful plug-ins for MT, many that have been folded in as native code to the distribution. And there were probably thousands that donated to the project as well. In my opinion, a personal license should have been giving free to all donators of $20 or more, period -- not a discount, but a full personal-edition license. Folks like use have kept this project going because of our donations, and I feel like we're now asked to pay more for a project that we're responsible for keeping alive. This is what the folks at Trillian did, and I think it would've been appropriate here.

But, again, they have that right. Why? MT is not free software. It never has been. It's distributed for free, and came with source code, but it wasn't free. The project survived and thrived in the blogging community because Movable Type was free enough. It wasn't GPL or anything like that, so Six Apart had every right to do what they did. I guess it just pisses me off how they've alienated their loyal users.

Obviously, this has sparked quite the debate in blogging circles. Everybody was debating the issue all over the frickin' web, and a bunch of people leaving, many of them moving to WordPress using some of the ideas at these sites (though there are some problems with MT 3.0's export routine), or they're trying out Expression Engine.

Here's my conundrum: I'm running ads on this site -- they're small, they're at the bottom of pages, and they're non-intrusive. I'm in violation of MovableType's licenses because of those ads. I put them up so I could pay the hosting bill for this site, and it's done that and to work on knocking down some of my medical bills. So I'm already screwed in that regard, because I don't have the $195 to buy a commercial license. Heck, even if I got rid of the ads, I'd still be in violation because I occasionally link to Amazon using my affiliate tags -- and I've probably made a whopping 12 cents on that.

Secondly, Perl is not my specialty. If I could call any language my specialty, it would be PHP (and I'm not a super-whiz at that, but at least I know what I'm doing). I'd rather be using a PHP-powered system.

Lastly, I don't like being limited by the license of a product, and that's what I am right now. A "free" product should be free to do whatever you want -- commercial, personal, or otherwise. Thank goodness for the GPL.

So far, Wordpress meets all those criteria.

SixApart distributes a free version of MT, but it truly isn't free. Don't be surprised to see this site move to another system at some point. I'm probably going to upgrading to MT 3.0's Free edition in the meantime until I find something that will work out dandy for me.

On a side note, I'm sure this entry will take a while to upload as it tries to ping all the sites I've linked to.

Posted by Jake on 05/18/04 @ 11:01 PM
Posted in Geekdom | Permalink

1 Trackback

Jumping Ship from London and the North on 05/21/04 @ 08:48 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)

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