Blog software and FOSS software

Anna Belle Leiserson celebrates the next iteration of the Movable Type blogging software; it will be eventually released under the gold standard GPL licence. (Yes, the L means license and that’s redundant.) Then, at last, it will Movable Type be free and open source software. But I’m not sure it will be back and I’m not sure I will use it.

Six Apart, the company behind Movable Type, played fast and loose with its community. Perhaps we were more naive then but its sudden reversal — after so many had contributed so much to its code and public success — making it plainly proprietary shocked many users who then dropped it like a hot rock. Community developers were hurt, some bloggers like myself “struck in solidarity” and many more left because — as it turns out — the product was stagnating in place.

WordPress, now the go-to blog software, took the community, the slack and went from being marginal to endemic. And it is under the GPL so its freedom is assured.

So Six Apart needs to earn back its community and make years of catch up. Call me cynical, but if they were doing so well as a proprietary software company then why are they making the leap? Free (as in intellectually free) and open source software (FOSS) can be revenue generating in the form of added features and support — it can even be sold outright, as well as acquired free of charge — but I smell rat.

Movable Type’s multiple blogs under one installation is a neat feature, but hosting is cheap and multiple database accounts (which you’d need for mulitple WordPress blogs) are among the next-to-cheapest options in any reputable service plan.

So in a word: convince me. I’ll be an easier audience than the developers an open source version of Movable Type will need to prosper.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. You’re right about brand loyalty and the developer community — and I expect WordPress will come out with some amazing stuff in response.

    Me — I’m just a pragmatist — making my web diva life as cushy and easy as possible. I’ll keep you posted — not try to convince you now. First I have to convince myself.

  2. The newer versions of MT allow for dynamic publishing, but start with a default to publish static pages. I’ve been (very slowly) experimenting with a PHP version of my site using MT 3.3 to reduce the rebuilding need, but who knows if I’ll ever get it finished!

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