Six Apart

WordPress, it seems, grows by leaps and bounds. It’s a terrific tool, and its popularity is deserved. What’s weird is that it’s starting to pull away from Movable Type – I think the common perception is that it already has, though I’m not quite convinced by the reality of that, yet.

It appears Movable Type is being positioned by Six Apart as a high-end blog-derived CMS on which developers can build bespoke sites, like the Guardian’s bafflingly subtle Comment is Free. As a result, we lowly individual users don’t get the glossy goodness that WordPress is starting to offer.

Case in point: the recent and surprisingly lackluster Movable Type Styles Contest. While there are some notable exceptions, the range and quality of schemes is faintly embarrassing compared to WordPress’ similar offerings. And I’ve seen nothing to rival the complexity, care, and insight of K2.

Now of course, this is a community effort rather than a core development issue, but if the product isn’t inspiring the sort of creative community one might expect, doesn’t that reflect badly on the product?

Six Apart, I suspect, would rather amateur bloggers used TypePad (if we’re fairly serious and public bloggers), LiveJournal (if we’re MySpace wannabe/escapees) or eventually Vox (if we just want to tell friends and family what we’re up to).

I’m not the only person to be at least concerned by this plan. The fact is, I like Movable Type. While The Daily Grind has been running reasonably well for four years, none of my WordPress sites have survived that long. When I was building the How2 site recently, something Very Bad happened to the WordPress back-end and, four hours before launch, I rebuilt the whole thing in MT. (Which explains why it doesn’t look finished – it isn’t).

I’m building lashing together two new sites in the next week or so. My current plan is to use the new MT3.3beta for one, and WordPress for the other. My CSS skills are rusty, I get bored debugging IE6 issues very quickly, and I can’t really be arsed hacking templates. I just want things to work. I’ll let you know how I get on… or if I give up and use iWeb instead. I’d be in good company.

6 thoughts on “Six Apart”

  1. Well, yes, iWeb is great. But I also built Comment is Free, so I’m obviously slightly confused.

  2. 🙂 Oh, I know that, Ben!
    In fact, that contrast between your professional and personal work is one of the things that got me thinking. People seem to be as dogmatic about their blog engines as they are about their OS, so it’s refreshing to see somebody prominent make unusual choices.
    What’s worrying me is that while MT is clearly an appropriate tool for large/complex/subtle sites like Comment is Free, it’s not obvious that it’s right for sites like the Daily Grind here. It looks to me like Six Apart is ceding that middle ground to WordPress. I’m not sure, yet, how I feel about that.
    Meanwhile: OMFG! Ben Hammersley! Here! (etc etc)

  3. 🙂
    It’s all a matter of how much time you want to spend messing around with the code. I moved to iWeb for two reasons. Firstly, it’s just prettier. But second, I got bored wasting so much time administering things. It’s why I stopped running my own servers, and then went from PC to Macs: expressing myself is more important than updating templates or fitting another layer of comment-spam protection. Life’s too short.
    In that regard, I slightly disagree with you. I think we’ll see a move away from WordPress as well, at least as a self-hosted option. and TypePad, or even LiveJournal or MySpace are, at the end of the day, just a whole load easier. I’m seeing this professionally too: the Guardian newsblog, for example, runs off a combination of MT, Flickr and, with the Yahoo search API providing search. Could we run our own photo galleries or linklogs? Sure. But why bother? Life’s too short, as I say.

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