SixApart have announced the latest update to their personal publishing platform/blogging software, Movable Type. The 3.1 release follows just 3 months on the heels of the 3.0 "developer" release.
Version 3.0 added few features for authors. It was focussed on enabling developers and was initially announced in tandom with the MT developers contest. That's a rather clever couple for discovering new features in the community. Ting-a-ling.
The 3.1 release is of a different sort. It combines a load of new authoring features with some nice additions for the techies too.
What is interesting is how, as the MT feature set matures, we begin to see the lines muddied between a personal blogging tool and a proper Web Content Management System. That there is an interesting discussion, however I'll save it for later. I'm sure the forthcoming semantics will keep us entertained in the meanwhile.
For now here's a brief look at new features in MT 3.1: Dynamic Publishing
The most prominent new feature in Movable Type 3.1 is the dynamic page functionality, allowing you to choose between static page generation or dynamic pages on a per-template basis. This allows you to optimize the performance of your weblog, providing you the best of both worlds: you can turn on static page generation for frequently-requested pages like your site index and feeds, and use dynamic pages for your monthly, individual, and other archive pages. This allows you to create the best balance of fast rebuilds and low web server load.
Dynamic pages completely eliminate the need to manually rebuild your files; when you update the design of your archive templates, for example, the design of your site will immediately be updated without requiring you to rebuild. Enhanced Category/Sub-category Management
The new category management interface in 3.1 gives you fine-grained control over the organization and display of your posts. You can easily create new subcategories, and move a subcategory from one parent category to another using a sleek, intuitive interface. Not only that, the subcategory support is extremely powerful, because it builds upon David Raynes' SubCategories plugin and thus inherits all of the tags included in that plugin. Post Scheduling
Using post scheduling, you can set a time and date for your posts to appear, permitting automatic updates to your weblog even when you're away. Enhanced Application Callbacks
This feature is for techies and builds on the extensibility features added in Movable Type 3.0. The object callback interface from v3.0 allowed developers to intercept all calls to save, remove, and update data objects in the database. This added a number of options for developers to hook into, but in 3.1 there's a bit more.
This release includes a number of new application callbacks, hooks that allow developers to associate new actions with critical pieces of the application code. Plugins can now add code to be executed to filter comments and TrackBacks before they're posted; to hook into the publishing process, filtering and modifying the list of files that will be published; etc. The Plugin Pack
The plugin pack
is the result of the Plugin to Movable Type 3.0 Developer's Contest. Many of these plugins are still in active development (and enhancement stages) so its best to consider them useful, but works in progress. Of note are MT Blacklist, XSearch, and Notifier. TypeKey Comment Authentication TypeKey
helps ensure that people who comment on a site have a verified identity, keeping conversations on track and helping to prevent abusive or offensive content (comment spam) from being posted. Enhanced Publishing APIs
Movable Type 3.1 supports the MetaWeblog and Atom APIs, allowing you to use a broad range of existing client tools to manage your blog, with AtomEnabled support that allows developers to use a single XML format for syndication and publishing. The Cost of Blogging
You'll all be happy to know that the MT licensing is continuing to evolve, and importantly, a free version (personal and unsupported) is still available. Educational licenses start at USD 39.00, and for commercial type folk, the first bite will set them back USD 199.00.
Yeah, people are whining about all this money stuff, but as someone's Daddy said somewhere, "nothin fer nothin kid". Pay up fellow typing monkeys, version 3.1 is worth it.