Movable Type celebrated its 11th birthday on October 8th. But with the milestone came a challenge: how to regain its standing in North America. The software has languished in the US market ever since 2010, when the web publishing software assets were transferred to Six Apart KK in Japan, as part of the merger of Six Apart, Inc. and VideoEgg to create SAY Media.
While Movable Type continued to provide the backend for some substantial websites, questions on the future of the platform persisted in North America. The community that remained found themselves overwhelmed with demands for support and understaffed to keep up with the demand.
While the community struggled in North America, development work continued in Japan, but due to language barriers, the advancements literally and figuratively did not translate overseas. Following the release of Movable Type 5.2 in September, the release of 42 new plugins to the North American market at a community meeting on October 18, a promise to follow up with more solutions from the Japanese community and some other interesting developments, Movable Type looks to be taking the first steps towards what will be a challenging comeback.
The plugins range from complex to simple solutions, all of which work towards a goal of making the platform more user friendly. They include solutions built by 601am and After6 Services, two U.S. based companies, as well as 37 from the Japanese MT developer community.
Both Aaron Bailey, 601AM principal and Dave Aiello, CEO of After6 Services were on hand to demonstrate their plugins. Aaron Bailey presented first, introducing the Navigation plugin, which allows the technically challenged to edit navigation within a WYSIWYG interface, removing the need to enter such changes directly into the templates. This will be a boon for sites that update their content regularly, but don't have the dedicated developers to keep up with changes.
A CloudAssets plugin enables users to push files to both Rackspace and AWS environments, creating separate urls for local and cloud assets.
The SuperAssets trio of plugins by After6 allow simple and seamless integration of YouTube, Flickr and SoundCloud assets into Movable Type posts. Instead of needing to embed in the source code, the assets fall under the rubric of the MT asset manager, allowing a clear view of all media assets in one place.
Following the presentation of the After6 plugins, Dave Aiello made an impassioned call to action to the North American Movable Type community. Saying that it was time to change the way the community worked, he challenged the four North American development firms present to form a consortium of sorts, a Movable Type partner community to share resources and common knowledge to speed the creation of solutions and to avoid recreating work.
If this plan goes through, it could spell a boon to the development community and to Movable Type end users, in speeding solutions to the public and in solving problems with the combined knowledge and experience of the group.
Takeshi Osanai, product manager of Movable Type, had earlier in the day shared the following goals:
- English translations of all available Japanese plugins
- English translation of Japanese documents relating to MT
- A renovated plugin directory
- Share knowledge on github wiki with English speaking MT community.
Robert Minton, vice president of sales and marketing in North America, is tasked with seeing these goals come to fruition. Hired this past June, Minton knows the challenges ahead and is aware of mistakes made in the past. He is also aware of the level of competition that exists in today's market as opposed to when Movable Type was the only game in town. Minton acknowledged that design and customer service are two areas where Movable Type needs to step up its game in North America.
Will all of this add up to Movable Type regaining market share in North America? Only time will tell for sure, but if the company and the community deliver on all of the plans they have for the future, it might just have a chance.