Movable Type 7

It’s still Movable Type, but…

When I wrote about this site’s migration to Movable Type, I avoided mention of the most current version, Movable Type 7. Several years ago Six Apart, the company which publishes Movable Type, was purchased by a Japanese company. I’m encouraged to hear that it’s still being developed but there are some problems.

Movable Type 7 is Free for Personal Use

What I was most surprised to discover is that Movable Type 7 is still free for personal use. This information doesn’t seem to be mentioned anywhere on the commercial nor the developer sites. At least, not on the English sites. The only way to get the ‘official’ release (i.e. not the GitHub version, which lacks some features) is by visiting the Six Apart licence page and clicking through to a form where you can request the download package. Fill in your email address and select your purpose for downloading. The choices are, after the selection prompt, ‘Initial Installation’ and ‘Upgrading’, though both result in the same download link.

Whither English?

It’s little to no bother to actually get a copy of Movable Type 7 in Japanese, so why isn’t it available in English? There are probably reasons for this. Perhaps most notably, Movable Type isn’t as popular as it once was in the West. Even more though, Six Apart want to provide a smoother experience whilst also being able to turn a profit. Selling subscriptions and licences to their cloud products covers both.

Consider, though, Hanlon’s Razor:

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Also consider how the release announcement of Movable Type 7 in English came about two weeks after the Japanese announcement, much to the confusion of some Movable Type mailing list subscribers. Forgive me a bit of impertinence, but what I reckon it boils down to is that the Japanese Six Apart just doesn’t think about markets outside Japan. This is not terribly surprising given my experience with the average Japanese person, sadly. No matter what the reason, it’s a shame.

Is it worth it?

For me, not at all. From what I saw, Movable Type 7 is trying to be more like WordPress with the content block editor. I have no idea what this is or how I’d use it. I don’t need it.

The most noticeable change is the administration user interface. The MT app has been given a facelift making it look like a true (web) app of 2018. It comes at a cost, though: the app is slow. No, not just because it’s Perl; the admin interface CSS file is nearly 300 kilobytes! I guess it’s no surprise that it feels sluggish. Though it’s been modernised, it’s not particularly nice to look at, either. There’s too much white with greyish text for my eyes.

At its heart though, it’s still Movable Type, and for that I’m thankful. If I weren’t able to run an old version, I think I’d give this a go. That is, I might do, but only after a bit of renovation of the admin interface CSS. I’m also thankful that despite the foibles, Six Apart Japan are still willing to offer their software free for personal use. Movable Type will perhaps rise again in popularity some day and when it does, it’ll be there waiting.

21 February 2019