We’re about a week into the New Year, but don’t cork up those bottles just yet. At long last, Six Apart (news, site) has released Movable Type 5. The new version is being called “a great milestone in the 8 years of Movable Type history” by its team, and MT users are more than happy to welcome some long-awaited features -- features which we say take this project one step closer being a full-fledged Web CMS.
MT 5 reflects the shift in customer behavior through a switch in their approach to social publishing. By starting with a website and adding blogs, Six Apart falls in line with fellow Web CMS platforms like WordPress, and the overarching goal to buttress a user's integrated social presence on the Web.
Movable Type 5 Key Concepts
With aim to provide an all-encompassing and unified software package, Six Apart has taken steps not only to enhance the creative process, but simplify the administration and management of websites and blogs as well.
For example, seasoned users will notice first off that the look and feel has been changed. Here’s a quick peek at what’s being served:
MT 5 Dashboard
Movable Type 5 Screenshot from MovableTypeDemo.org
The new user dashboard features a tab for both the website and blogs in one location, aiming to ease navigation for authors, editors, designers and other publishers.
MT 5 Entry Editing
Enhanced content management features include five new object types for custom fields: website, blog, comment, template and asset.
Secondly, revision history -- applied to entries, pages and templates -- has come aboard. This feature alone is pretty big news in our little world of CMS, but it’s important to note that it lacks a couple of key abilities such as "red-lining" or any sort of a side-by-side comparison view. In other words, your history is there, but seeing how each version is different is not possible. Perhaps a plugin is on the way? We'd like to see that.
Additionally, a new theme mechanism has been tacked on to make it easier for users to apply themes across a website and blogs with one click.
MT 5: What Didn't Make It
There are a few significant items which did not make it into the v5 release. Of note are Action Streams, Movable Type Motion and SQLite and PostreSQL database support. A MT 5 compatible release of the Action Streams plugin -- a means of aggregating your social web activity on your blog -- will reportedly follow shortly via the MT Plugin Directory. Motion on the other hand apparently will not be available until a later release of the MT 5 product line.
The SQLite and PostreSQL database support was removed and will not be showing up again. MySQL dominates the LAMP and WAMP type environments, so this move was one way to lighten the developer load. For Oracle or Microsoft SQL database support or LDAP integration Movable Type Enterprise is where you'll need to head. But this version of the product has not yet been released.
MT 5: Open Source or Not
Interested parties can get their hands on the platform in one of several packages. There's an open source version available for the developer community and a Pro version offered on both a basic blogger and business level. The business level is required for use by any non-individual or K-12 educational users. See the MT 5 FAQ if you're not sure which category applies to you.
With regards to pricing, the Pro Blogger version is free and the Pro Business option is aimed at small to medium-sized companies, and requires a bit of your hard-earned cash (US$ 395.95 for 5 authors or US$ 995.95 for 20). Of course, if you're already an MT user, it'll cost you significantly less to upgrade.
Movable Type was released as open source in December 2007. The clarity around this effort and the its community momentum has largely languished from what we see. The current MT 5 release messaging highlights the open source version as an option for developers. It does not seem to be positioned the same way other commercial open source options are. This is probably one of the reasons why ex-Movable Type product manager lead an effort to fork Movable Type Open Source into what is now know as Open Melody (news, site). The first release of Open Melody is due in Q1 of this year.