The End Of The Crisis

In 2007, I had what I dubbed a “crisis of blogging faith“. Movable Type, my blog tool of choice, had been stagnating on the personal blogging front, while Six Apart was making a lot of noise about the enterprise. Within a day, I had a comment from Anil Dash:

We know we’ve been, honestly, focused elsewhere as we built up all the other work we’ve been doing. But, especially with the success of the other platforms and work like MT Enterprise, it lets us focus resources on the personal version of MT.

After four years of waiting, today I gave up — and migrated to WordPress.

Rather than trying to pick through the last four years of the tool, I want to focus on three key events over the last six months:

In September 2010, advertising network VideoEgg bought out SixApart and formed SAY Media. After a day of silence about the future of the tool, Six Apart Japan spoke up, and promised continued support and development. (The Japanese team, it turned out, had been handling development for over twelve months by this point, as MT is strangely popular in Japan.)

In October 2010, my site moved between hosts. Those poor souls who have dealt with MT on shared hosting know that it can be a resource hog, and I got nailed with an odd bug where repeated searches using mt-search would hose the server. My beloved sysadmin told me to either cutover to another platform or turn off search. I turned off search.

On Friday, Six Apart Japan was acquired by Infocom, a Japanese IT company (sadly, not the developer of Zork). The translated press release says:

The Infocom Group shall actively seek expansion of our net business by adding our specialty of SI to the base established by Movable Type and then conducting sales to major corporations.

That was enough for me. For the last four years, I have regularly faced bad news about the tool’s future. Each time, I swallowed the bitter pill of being told everything will be okay, that someone (Six Apart itself! The MT community! A different open-source community! Japan!) will take hold of the project and make it competitive again. Every time, no rescue came, and the other tools in the personal blogging space (WordPress, Twitter, Tumblr — even Facebook) continued forward.

I spent the afternoon huddled over my keyboard, migrating and massaging blog posts, trying to migrate in my existing stylesheets, giving up on that and trying to find a free theme that looked good enough, giving up on *that* and purchasing Basic Maths, installing useful plugins, and disabling my Movable Type install. The process was not pain free, but I will take short term stinging over long term scars.

As I wrote back in 2007:

…I have to be a bit selfish. I have a vested interest in this site: after all, this site is me. This blog has been running for nearly seven years – over a quarter of my life. In that time, I have graduated from college, gotten married, moved three times, crossed thousands of miles, met hundreds of people. I have seen the world, experienced so much, and grown into who I am today. As I have grown, so has this blog.

But the blog cannot solely be powered by me; I can only use the tools available to channel my thoughts and experiences. If the tools refuse to grow, neither can the blog.

Farewell, Movable Type.

  • I did the same last year (for different reasons) and haven’t looked back. Love WP. Just stay on the security updates.

  • Anonymous

    I really wish I hadn’t already put down the deposit for that Japanese class I was going to take so I could keep using MT!

  • Anonymous

    I feel bad because I really did think what I wrote then was accurate. Had I known then what I know now, my advice would have been different. Glad you’re still blogging, though. :)

    • Don’t feel bad – I think the actions of 2007 and the first half of 2008, where there was a lot of effort put into MT4, were in line with your comment – it’s just that it fell apart after that. As much as we all want to, none of us can see 4 years into the future.

    • Don’t feel bad – I think the actions of 2007 and the first half of 2008, where there was a lot of effort put into MT4, were in line with your comment – it’s just that it fell apart after that. As much as we all want to, none of us can see 4 years into the future.

  • Dan, while I certainly won’t argue with your choice to bid Movable Type goodbye, I do wonder whether you ever considered Melody (http://openmelody.org/) and if not, why not?

    • I had considered Melody, Jay, but the problems I ran into were:

      • I think by the time Melody was stable enough, I had already upgraded to MT5. I see the note about “divergence” is still on the FAQ.
      • I had some critical plugin dependencies (Disqus) that might have worked but were in enough of a grey area to make me unconfortable.
      • While I really like the ideas behind the Melody project, every time I end up at the website, I am left wondering what the software actually looks like and how it functions, particularly since I’m very used to MT. I don’t need an admin login into a demo, but some screenshots would be nice – the documentation is incredibly devoid of them, I’ve found.

      (I should note, to no one in particular, that this migration/post doesn’t reduce my engagement with MT at work; I still feel that MT hits a unique sweet spot for content management, particularly for a number of our clients.)

  • Hope you get to resurrect your old theme.

    • I spent about two hours trying to move my theme over, and had to give up when I realized it was pretty futile. The theme I had in MT was a complete hack, which meant the styling was inconsistent at best. Trying to get the div elements cross-translated, never mind try to deal with WordPress’s more complicated theme structure, is something I don’t really have the patience for.

      I may come back to it to try for a child theme of Basic Maths (just for fonts/colors – there’s no way I’m touching layout elements), but that’s a ways off, because I’m finding it more critical to scrub my posts for tags/categories/content formatting. MT let me get into some really bad practices for my content.

    • Well my friend, I made the child theme. Let me know what you think.