I Want My MT3…

Published on 13 May 2004 in , , ,

Well the announcement of version 3 of popular blogging software Movable Type has been greeted with a flurry of posts in the blogs across the land. Unfortunatly they’re rarely about the flurry of new features, but instead concentrating on one thing and one thing alone.

The price.

Some history

For previous versions, MT was completely free for personal, non-commercial use. You could run as many blogs as you wanted, with as many authors. People quickly found that here was a high quality, flexible product, and use it they did.

And not just for blogs either. It quickly became used as a defacto content production system with people using it to publish all manner of sites – indeed I’m currently in the process of converting Catherine’s site, The F-Word over to MT to make her life easier. It was to be quite frank, a wonderful product and as long as you used it in a non-commercial manner, it was free.

The present

Unfortunatly that’s not the case with MT3. The license for the free version allows you no more than three blogs on the system (currently this site uses three alone, whilst Catherine’s will use at least four)

A far bigger stumbling block is that Free-MT can’t be used by more than one author so is not any use for group efforts. Even worse, no use at all for sites like The F-Word which has currently got 46 users in the system. It’s a rather unique situation in that only two people have access to the interface, but the author tag is used to assign author metadata next to each article. Now you could set it up so MTs author is always assigned to one user, but that then breaks the article metadata.

License fun

Funnily enough for our purposes here, the only license that is available that would get us anywhere near close to fulfilling the requirements of what I run on my home PC, would be the Personal Volume License II which comes in at $189.95 (or around £107). And that only allows 9 authors.

Now as only two people ever log in, I could move the author definition somewhere else and get it down to a $69.95 license. But then that ruins the article metadata.

Recognise or be dammed

To be quite frank, the free and personal-paid MT licenses spectacularly fail to recognise how many MT users actually use the software. Whilst many people may just have one blog with one author, some people are doing a lot more with the software because its so flexible.

Now you could say – well you’re a heavy user, and if so, why not pay a little more? Well I don’t object to paying – the old MT allowed me to pay what I felt fit. However the donation was entirely optional – the license for Movable Type 2.6 allowed me to use it for free.

Of course Six Apart, who make and develop Movable Type, have put a lot of effort into the software and deserve to make some money of their efforts. And if this was a new product, would there be all this uproar? Nope. There would not.

Why the uproar?

The uproar exists for one reason. Six Apart (MT’s owners) have removed what the community once had – removed all that they once gave away for free. All that power and flexibility has now gone. Bye bye. And when you do that, especially with a user base as large and as dedicated as Movable Type’s, you are going to get a seriously huge pile of flack.

And they have.

Now as one blogger pointed out, there are no restrictions on the software. The only thing stopping you from disobeying the license, is your respect for the license.


That’s another problem. I have respect for the product and its authors. I don’t want to disrespect the product by abusing its license just because I don’t have the cash to pay for something that I didn’t have to pay for before.

And that’s an issue that will affect a hell of a lot of people. People love MT. They want to use MT. They contribute willingly to pay for their non-commercial use of MT. But will they pay that much?


So what’s the solution? Well personally I’m not upgrading. There is no license for MT3 that covers my needs and to be honest, Movable Type 2.66 does everything I need right now and I can do it for free. I don’t need to upgrade, so I won’t. Down the line if I need to change, I’ll either write my own custom system, or use someone elses. It’s that simple.

Until then MT2.66 it is for me.

One problem though. There’s no longer any way for me to donate some money to Six Apart, so I can’t even show my appreciation for the software I use on a regular basis, without buying a license for some software that I won’t actually be able to use.

The launch of Movable Type 3 should have been hearlded with bloggers everywhere extolling the virtues of the updates. And unfortunatly there’s few to be seen. Six Apart have got a PR disastor on their hands – ironically fuelled by the very software revolution they created.