Moveable Type,
October 8, 2001 2:28 PM   Subscribe

Moveable Type, a new entrant in the weblog management system applications arena, has just been released! Let's hear what the Mefi masses think...
posted by fooljay (59 comments total)
we've got to download and install it first (or at least I have) but so far it looks cool. just remeber what they say in their release notes and don't overpraise it yet.

I'd be interested in what Our Illustrious Leader™ thinks, since he's been using it for a while.
posted by nedrichards at 2:34 PM on October 8, 2001

I like it. It definitely benefits from the age of other blog software. I never liked the admin interfaces in greymatter, and MT certainly presents a nice clean, task-driven interface to working with your blogs.

I love that a central "engine" can power an unlimited number of blogs. It's sort of like Blogger, and how you get a "your blogs" list. The email integration (sending out notifications) seems like a cool feature though I haven't tried it yet.

They've designed a really clean system. After using it for a couple weeks, I have plenty of praise and few complaints. Ben and Mena worked like mad in a very short period of time, and I expect the releases and feature lists to grow at an exponential rate.

I would love to see them make a living from the software, if only to see what new systems they come up with when they can devote all their time and energy to building applications.
posted by mathowie at 2:40 PM on October 8, 2001 [1 favorite]

I wasn't able to get it working on my system. Says something about not being able to locate I've got all the required modules installed and there was no in the MT download.

*shrug* I'm not a perl guy. I'll stick to rolling my own, php-stylee.

I wasn't really going to use it anyway, I was just curious about the interface and maybe a little code-hacking.
posted by tomorama at 2:41 PM on October 8, 2001

i think that the design looks very clean. if you're of a mind to use a content management system and are not afraid of installing the software yourself, i think MT looks like an excellent option. even so, i like hand editing my weblog, so i'm not likely to switch. that's no knock on MT: i'm just not in their target audience.
posted by moz at 2:46 PM on October 8, 2001

By the way, let's not make this into a tech support forum for MT.

Not that that's what you were doing tomorama. I just wanted to head off another massive Mefi pissing match with the above...
posted by fooljay at 2:47 PM on October 8, 2001

I installed it a few minutes ago and have it posting to the root of my domain. It's amazing what they've done in about 100k of text and image files! I haven't used it long enough to know all the ins and outs, but my initial reaction is that it's a keeper.
If Ben and Mena are reading this thread: BRAVO!
posted by bradlauster at 2:49 PM on October 8, 2001

moz, I used to say the same thing, until I found myself thinking this all too often "I should post something about subject x. Ah, forget it, I'd have to pull down the old file, write something about it, then update the files on the server. I'd lose a half hour easily... fugettaboutit."

Using a CMS means "I just push that bookmarklet button, write in the popup form, and press the save button on the form." It also means redesigning your site is a snap (because the content isn't intertwined with HTML display code). I was reluctant to use Blogger at first, when I saw it in 1999, but eventually I gave it a try and never looked back.

Life's too short to waste on pointless tasks like copy/paste and FTP.
posted by mathowie at 2:51 PM on October 8, 2001

matt, I think it depends on how you post. I choose links for the day, then I write link text, then I arrange them, and then I may tweak the text some more.

I don't *want* to put them up as I find them. it depends on your posting style.
posted by rebeccablood at 2:54 PM on October 8, 2001

I think I'm halfway in between the two, it sorta depends on the day.. (yeah, my site is kinda barren, it died and has only been resurrected this wkend..). MoveableType certainly has a very pretty backend, but for the time being I'm sticking to b2 as its dead simple so I can undestand how it works and edit it while practicing my PHP skillz..
posted by Mossy at 2:57 PM on October 8, 2001

Rebecca... what is really nice about MT is that it has a "hold" function. So you could do just what you said.. write the links, tweak, save them for later, and then publish. It really suits different posting styles. I've been beta testing it and while there are a few non-intuitive aspects, overall it's good and it will very shortly be amazing.

upgrading is a breeze also, so it's worth downloading now, making your requests for features etc, and seeing how the next release goes.
posted by christina at 3:23 PM on October 8, 2001

MT looks cool from the screenshots and stuff, but isn't really for me simply because I've already got tons of time and code invested in a MySQL database setup already. I have a home-grown CMS that I use for it that ties into other weird things I've made. I was thinking of making my CMS into a downloadable app, but gave up when I saw what Mr Dean Allen was making. It's way ahead of mine, and I didn't want to put the time in to duplicate his work.

I wonder what ever happened to Dean's thing. I think I'll write him about that.
posted by endquote at 3:25 PM on October 8, 2001

hm, it looks interesting and i'd like to try it for a project that i don't think greymatter would've been appropriate for... is there anywhere where there are screenshots?
posted by lotsofno at 3:27 PM on October 8, 2001

Oh thanks Mossy for posting a link to my CMS PHP/MySQL script b2. I guess it lacked some basic exposure.
Someone tell me, how to get that much exposure in a month, while the product hadn't been fully developed yet, while mine has been there for 3 months without getting much. :(
Anyway, I'm off to install and try it. So far I liked the screenshots until I saw two separate textboxes for the entries, and the dreaded "Rebuild files" link.
I just hope they don't change the way they store posts yet, because I'm on my way to making an import script ;)
posted by michel v at 3:31 PM on October 8, 2001

I've been using Blogger for a little over a year now and have been pretty happy. Tried GreyMatter, especially back during the "Blogger Scare of Early 2001", and it never really clicked with me. Blogger was just so simple.

This new program, Moveable Type, seems to be what I like to call "complicated yet simple". It's Monday, so after work on Mondays I am not willing to do much, but I saw this last week and had to try it.

After installing, I was greatly impressed. Right now I am setting it up for a friend who has not started their web log yet, and it works great. I think they really have created something great here.

Of course, Blogger will remain the choice for the masses, because this thing does have some level of complication, but its breadth of features is wonderful. And the install was easy too.
posted by benjh at 4:08 PM on October 8, 2001

Simple michel v, you make it look pretty :) v.0.5s colour scheme wasn't the greatest.. ;) Oh, and you get people like Matt to use it :)

lotsofno: Screenshots here.

I think CGI scripts don't like me much.. Or maybe its because I'm too cheap to get proper Perl support? Hmm.. Ah well, PHP and mySQL work fine..
posted by Mossy at 4:09 PM on October 8, 2001

Hmmm, michel, I don't know about you, but I know that Mena and Ben solicited a hell of a lot of input from people from the outset and put the expected feature list (requirements) up early. I've been drooling over some of those features.

On the contrary, I just looked around your page and I'll be damned if I can find some sort of feature list without reading everything on the site. (Even though I hate to admit it, thoughtful marketing is good for something...)

I'm glad b2 was mentioned, as I will try it out as well...
posted by fooljay at 4:11 PM on October 8, 2001

Mossy, you can download the 0.5.1 pre-release today. It looks stylish now. :)
posted by michel v at 4:12 PM on October 8, 2001

fooljay you're right, I really should get up and do some feature list and complete pages about it. Or let's say "get up" isn't the right word, let's say "sit down" ;)
And I shall make a page about b3's future features, which include multiple blogs too (an idea that I had back in early august), including blogs on remote locations (ie, remotely accessible mysql d.b.) and posting by e-mail and unix command line if I can get these last two to work.
posted by michel v at 4:16 PM on October 8, 2001

michael-- i'm with fooljay: why do I switch? because greymatter or blogger does do something I need. I look at your site and all I see is a product that appears to do what I already have. Put a list of features right there on the front page! Link to screenshots! troll the greymatter support boards, and learn what people are begging for.... then mention your baby does it....

Personally i wish matt would release his metafilter code as a product... it has a few things I dream of, such as registration....
posted by christina at 4:20 PM on October 8, 2001

One thing I told Mena right from the first shots I saw of MT, this has to be one of the prettiest web apps, of any kind, that I've seen in a long time. That fact alone makes me want to use it. I like a pretty interface on any tool that I use on a daily basis.
posted by anildash at 4:25 PM on October 8, 2001

Ahh, the shallow world in which we live, the speed of our lives meaning we can only but see the surface and judge on that ;)

If you want feature-rich, try Postnuke, another PHP CMS I've been fiddling as I've been designing a Bengali community website (yes, I can make pretty pages, my personal one is bland and green out of preference :). Its really unwieldy for personal blogs, which is why I use b2, but for bigger sites its great as you can drop in forum plug-ins etc..

sleep time, night ppl..
posted by Mossy at 4:32 PM on October 8, 2001

Gifs help, Anil. :-)

michel, I've been a Product Manager long enough to know that users are not only stupid, but also lazy. Well, actually, that's not always true, but you should assume that it is.

Users want a guided tour. They need to be overwhelmed by desire (or out-of-their-minds-frustrated with their current choice) to be willing to switch.

If you've got good software, it's not difficult to create that sort of situation. You just have to remember to do it.

And like it or not, presentation is half the battle to getting someone to walk through the door. Execution is what keeps them from leaving.
posted by fooljay at 4:33 PM on October 8, 2001

Registration ? Erm b2 does it, people register themselves and depending on whether you allow new users to post once they're registered, they can post right away. Or you can make them register and wait for you to allow them posting rights.
Oh what am I doing, I'm trolling and saying my baby does it ! ;)
More seriously, my goal isn't an exhaustive feature set, it's to make it the most easily extendible tool. When I see people making extra sections for the interface because the structure allows for it, it puts a smile up there :)
posted by michel v at 4:39 PM on October 8, 2001


I lack cgi/perl access

What do I do? What do i do!?
posted by a11an at 5:13 PM on October 8, 2001

um... change hosts?
posted by christina at 5:22 PM on October 8, 2001

Keep on using Blogger ? It's a nice tool, I always preferred it to GreyMatterish solutions, because its UI is intuitive, much more than GM's "push that button to go to the form to add an entry, then if you wanna see the recent entries to edit them, well i don't know, then go to edit entries, hope you find the right one in the list, click edit so it goes to another page with a form, then re-click Add an entry...". For this reason Blogger's UI is far superior to anything that's been done so far.
posted by michel v at 5:24 PM on October 8, 2001

I've just installed it, not difficult at all if you just followed the manual. It's taken me about half an hour to get it all sorted, template ported over from my blog and posting/commenting. It's great. Having a slight problem importing my blogger entries but I'm sure that'll be easy to get round.

It's just so fun. It's running my private journal blog so you're not allowed to look but it's just cracking. I know this sounds stupid but it feels like the apple mac of personal CMS. I could see this sort of loveliness actually inspiring me to do better stuff.

Now remember people, always set your permissions correctly! (just found out this was my problem with the import).
posted by nedrichards at 5:43 PM on October 8, 2001


well, to be honest, i tweak about as much html hand editing my weblog than i did with blogger, so that isn't much of a factor to me. i suppose some people's layout, as a matter of their vision for their website's design, can be very complicated: definitely, in those cases, automation should be utilized.

as for posting about subject x, i actually want that indecision. if it's important enough, i figure i'll post about it; if not, eh. it acts as a filter for my content, which i personally have decided is good for me. but some people's style is to post fairly often, whenever they feel they've something to say; CMS's are the best route in that case.

(don't mean to get offtopic here...)
posted by moz at 5:56 PM on October 8, 2001

Let me just tell you how happy (after a really long nap, happy) I was to see the tone of this thread. Thanks for all the positive comments.

Thanks nedrichards for pointing out our release message. When I put that message up, Ben's reaction was "Wow, defensive much." I posted that on no sleep and the fear of failure looming heavily over my computer station. But, I'm glad I said it none the less.

Perhaps it was my quick attempt to show that there are actual people behind the product and that like us, it certainly isn't flawless.

I just have to commend Noah Grey for keeping up GM as long as he did. Providing a widely-used to the masses is a daunting task. Hopefully, we'll not become too overwhelmed :)

Michael: About press, we were just lucky, I guess. Luckily it made our product stronger. I don't think we did anything really different than what you are doing.

Excuse me if this isn't the most enlightening post, but I'm still pretty drained.
posted by mgtrott at 6:07 PM on October 8, 2001 [1 favorite]

Wow, greymatter seems to be taking a beating, though some is just repeated complaints. (we've got it michael--you hate greymatter)

I was suppose to beta test MT, but ran out of time. I will surely try it out. It certainly looks fantastic.

It is quite obvious, however, that it resembles greymatter in several ways. Nothing wrong with that, I'm just saying it built on what greymatter did and added features that people 'wished' greymatter had. So it's a little unfair to compare.

IF noah decides to develop a 'greymatter pro', with all the trial and error experience he has from the past year and a half, I'm sure it will be quite amazing and would be a fairer comparison.
posted by justgary at 6:15 PM on October 8, 2001

Hi Gary. You could always treat this release as an extended beta-test and continue to post comments and questions :)

I agree. It isn't fair to compare the weblogging tools. I groan every time I see someone post that MT is a Blogger or GM killer. First of all, I don't think it's true.

It is quite obvious, however, that it resembles greymatter in several ways. Nothing wrong with that, I'm just saying it built on what greymatter did and added features that people 'wished' greymatter had. So it's a little unfair to compare

I do agree that it was very helpful to have a pre-existing and very similar software model to compare our to our own product. Noah didn't have that luxury.

But, I don't want it to seem that we just took Noah's existing product, added a few features and released it as our own. This isn't true -- in fact our backend architecture is completely different.

(I know you weren't saying that, I'm just on the defensive today :) )
posted by mgtrott at 6:50 PM on October 8, 2001

Hey Mena.

You're very correct, I meant in no way that you simply added on to noah's program.

In fact, what you said is exactly what I was trying to say, you're just better with words than I am=)

And I'll be using MT for my fiance's site. I have no doubt I'll love it.
posted by justgary at 6:59 PM on October 8, 2001

Speaking of MT support forums, is there one? I'm having trouble figuring out the template tags and I was hoping I could find an example template somewhere.
posted by chrisege at 7:37 PM on October 8, 2001

Just wanted to add - as far as I'm concerned (for what it's worth), Movable Type certainly seems to me like it deserves to fully stand on its own rather than be compared to Greymatter. (Speaking as someone worn down long ago by reading countless comparisons to a product I never even used or gave a minute's thought to when I wrote GM.)

I have no plans to develop a successor to Greymatter (I made a foray into it, but my heart just wasn't in it enough) - not that I'm positive I never will, I just don't see it as a part of my future right now - I have too many other things I want to give my passion and energy to, rather than slaving over a bigger and better version of something I've already accomplished. But I still very much love the field & the "weblog community", and I know it deserves a product that can carry things much farther than I had the will or strength to do with Greymatter (no one's more aware than I am of where it falls short and by how much), so quite honestly, I think this is a really great thing - anything's great to me that helps make this realm of the web that I love a better place, and it looks like MT is going to be the backbone for a lot of great things. And I dearly hope *all* the success and rewards possible can come to Ben & Mena for all the hard work they've done and all that they've accomplished. I'm rooting for 'em all the way.
posted by Noah at 7:49 PM on October 8, 2001 [1 favorite]

chrisege, did you see the manual? It covers all the template tags.
posted by mathowie at 7:55 PM on October 8, 2001

We're working on getting the MT support forums up.

Eventually, we'll have our own message board system running the forum but for the time being we're looking for a good BB system. Any ideas?

Currently, we're just answering emails which is becoming a bit of a task. The sooner we get the forum up, the sooner we can rely on peer-to-peer user support.
posted by mgtrott at 7:57 PM on October 8, 2001

Yeah, I've been trying to digest the manual, but I think I'd have an easier time of it if I had an example or two to look at. From what I've figured out so far though, I should be able to do a lot of the things I've been wanting to, just as soon as I get things sorted out.

Mena - you and Ben have a great package put together here, and I can tell I'll really be enjoying it. thanks!
posted by chrisege at 8:09 PM on October 8, 2001

I don't know if Noah had any idea what he was in for with Greymatter. God bless him for doing it.

I'm just checking out MT now. Installation was painless. My initial impression:

Very, very impressed.

Would like to see if I can import from NewsPro.
posted by tranquileye at 8:10 PM on October 8, 2001

For those interested in new blogging software, you may also wish to keep an eye on BigBlogTool, which should be released this friday. Features like multiple blogs on the same page and remote template editing might make it worth a look.
posted by Hackworth at 10:00 PM on October 8, 2001

Even more "press"; it's made Yahoo's Pick of the Day. Congrats!
posted by girlhacker at 11:46 PM on October 8, 2001

FYI: DreamHost tells me that they're configured to allow use of MT. I know a bunch of bloggers use DreamHost, so I thought I'd note it.
posted by GatorDavid at 12:25 AM on October 9, 2001

I just installed it, and I love it! Installation was a cinch and I love the simple, sleek looking interface. I'm just playing with all of it right now, getting familiar with it and stuff, but Mena, so far it seems you've done a great job! Congrats! :)
posted by eclectic glamazon at 12:36 AM on October 9, 2001

Gary, thankfully I do not *hate* GreyMatter. It would be too much saying that. I just had terrible user experiences with it, and when you got your server down after someone's rebuild process took 60% of the resources you can be angry...
I must say words went a bit beyond my thoughts, and I'm sorry if I offended any of you.
And about competition, I think we do not aim at the same audience. GM, MT, and Blogger (yes sorry if I put them in the same sentence again) rely on updating static files. b2 updates a database and that is reflecting on the template pages. That's different :)

Mena for your BB system, I would suggest VBulletin, I think $160 is not much for your project, since you're likely to make some $$ with it :)
And quite honestly, as much as I'm a fervent supporter of phpBB 2, well, it's not out yet and you can't afford waiting for it. You need support forums quick now.

And to others, please puhleeeeez get my name right, it's Michel, not Michael :D
posted by michel v at 12:37 AM on October 9, 2001

Thanks Michel for the VBulletin suggestion. I'll check it out.

(And sorry for getting your name wrong)
posted by mgtrott at 12:45 AM on October 9, 2001

You're forgiven. Now you're a happy part of the 1% internet people who get it right, doesn't it make you all warm and fuzzy ?
posted by michel v at 12:49 AM on October 9, 2001

(Hopefully I won't get flamed for this, but) Is there an ad-hoc support site for MT yet? Anyone with peer-to-peer comments yet?
posted by GatorDavid at 12:52 AM on October 9, 2001

Mena/Ben, I'd go for a Yahoo group or something. Unless you have objections or are going to set something up pronto yourself, I'll be happy to set it up.

I think it's important to get that ball rolling NOW before you guys, in your ragged states, get inundated with stuff...

P.S. I'm about to send in a big Opera bug report right now...
posted by fooljay at 2:10 AM on October 9, 2001

Ixnay on the Opera Ug-bay. Can't reproduce it now... Sleep tight... :-)
posted by fooljay at 2:55 AM on October 9, 2001

Just grabbed and installed MT-1.0 and am extremely impressed. I'm a perl developer myself, and it was nice to see something that's obviously been designed rather than accumulated - not to diss GM but I was very much put off by the architecture.

This isn't any fault of GM - paving the way is always harder than following on from behind, and most people wouldn't care in the first place! 8)

I'm definitely going to use it, anyway - no more blogger for me... 8)
posted by chrimble at 6:48 AM on October 9, 2001

this is what i love about metafilter. i am just getting ready to ease out of hand updating site and stumbled across this thread. now i have a lot of food for thought!
posted by nyomi at 9:42 AM on October 9, 2001


Maybe I overstated with the word 'hated'. I've read your gm comments on the blogger boards, your site, and here. I have no problem with that. I love free speech!

It's just you keep bringing up server issues, and as I've said before, you're on hostrocket. I use to be on hostrocket and their servers couldn't even keep my static page up. The three months I was there 'scripts' and bulletin boards supposedly brought down their servers every week.

When I switched to a new hosting company I installed greymatter, and I've never had a server problem (and neither do thousands of others). I would never have even tried to use greymatter on hostrocket.

So that's why I cringe when I hear you speak of server problems, when I know how unstable hostrocket servers are.

Anyways, I'll shut up about it now since this is a MT thread anyway.
posted by justgary at 10:05 AM on October 9, 2001

Gary oh, I didn't know about GM/HR incompatibility. Then again, I'm against the 'rebuilding' concept and all that is static pages.
And I'm moving from HR at the end of this month, I've found way better :)

I've been my little way in MT template tags and so far I find the system pretty well organised, bravo :)
posted by michel v at 10:56 AM on October 9, 2001

michel, I think that the rebuilding process is a very important one, especially if you see any sort of traffic.

Did you know that since the beginning, Yahoo has exported it's database nightly to static pages? That's why, despite the traffic, it renders so quickly.

Rendering updates in the form of static pages allows my server to save CPU cycles that would ordinalrily be taken up by database lookups and compilation of a page.

Those CPU cycles can be precious if you have anything else going on on your site.
posted by fooljay at 11:42 AM on October 10, 2001

I have seen a lot of talk about switching from Blogger to Greymater, b2, Moveable Type, etc, etc. And I agree that most people won't switch unless they are absolutely pulling their hair out. And here is a wish....

A tool that allows one to import their old Blogger files into the new system.

I never bothered to switch from Blogger because after nearly 2 years I didn't want to maintain 2 sets of archives. It would be awesome if I were able to import my old entries into a new system.

Perhaps this is asking too much though :)
posted by terrapin at 2:11 PM on October 10, 2001

Terrapin, that's a current feature of Movable Type. I don't know how successful it is, but it's there.
posted by bjennings at 5:12 PM on October 10, 2001

bjennings, it's very successful! Movable Type hasn't a bug in it, as far as I can see...
posted by wibbler at 3:12 AM on October 11, 2001

Yup. Importing entries with MT is a snap.
posted by GatorDavid at 10:07 AM on October 11, 2001

Eh, I had huge difficulties trying to import my Greymatter and my Blogger entries into MT. I was finally able to get my Greymatter entries in, but they were all datestamped incorrectly.

Maybe I'll play around with it again sometime this weekend.
posted by bjennings at 12:10 PM on October 11, 2001

Most people have been effortlessly successful in importing their old entries.

But yes, there have been some problems. I think this can be expected when a feature like this is provided. We'll try to make the instructions clearer and make sure all sorts of weird behaviors are accounted for.

About bugs, MT certainly has it share... But what our users have caught so far will definitely be amended by the next release.

See the MT support forum for any questions.

(I don't want this to become a MT support thread).
posted by mgtrott at 12:19 PM on October 11, 2001

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