Tuesday 6 July 2004
“I thought you were restricted from using anything but mt for a period of time due to your MT book.”
It’s a good question, so I figured I’d take time to answer it clearly. First off, my reluctance to move to WordPress right before Porter Glendinning and I published Teach Yourself Movable Type in 24 Hours had largely to do with the fact that I felt it unfair to publish a book proclaiming a passion for Movable Type and then having a WordPress web site.
But the decision to use or not use a given software product on my site is wholly mine to make. It just seemed bad form to switch to WordPress before the book came out. However, several factors came together at once to persuade me to make the switch despite the nearness to the book’s publication:
- I met and began to talk a lot with Matt Mullenweg about a variety of important industry topics including CMS/blog management software that is standards-compliant; PHP; XFN; and ultimately WordPress.
- Six Apart released MT 3.0 to completely new licensing policies the very week our book came out. I was really rather disappointed that despite a good relationship with Anil Dash and what I’d hoped would be a positive thing for MT itself, no one at Six Apart communicated these changes to us, which severely compromised our ability to make sure the book was as up to date as possible. We wanted to do a lot with Six Apart, including promoting the product via the book’s CD or web site. None of that happened, probably more due to the legal issues surrounding the structural changes at Six Apart and general distraction and overwhelming confusion as a company begins to suddenly grow beyond its more humble origins. I was extremely upset about MT’s new licensing policies and was part of the vocal outcry against them – which to their credit, they responded to quickly. What’s more, I’d given several hundred dollars to Six Apart over the period of time we were working on the book and I was using the product, and to find myself totally left out of the loop both as an advocate and user of the product kinda felt sucky, to put it simply :).
- I was being innundated with comment spam beyond manageability, despite the best efforts of the wonderful Jay Allen, author of mt-blacklist and spam fighter extraordinaire. But short of shutting my comments down, the management of comment spam became a daily chore that sucked up more time than realistic. Now, it’s important to mention that I’m at a very high risk for spam for numerous reasons, so this is not about any flaw in MT – if anything the features in MT 3.0 will significantly help its users who will have more fighting power and less vulnerability than I do.
- I recently moved web and mail servers and because of my own personal challenges at the time it was happening, I didn’t organize the move well at all. As a result, I had no chance to properly export my MT entries for import on another site. At the same time, I lost my MT password and could not restore it no matter what I did, including installing the really impressive MT-medic extension.
- Completely frustrated, I wandered into the #wordpress IRC chat room, where I’d made good friends with a number of folks who were savvy at both MT and WordPress. And guess what? They helped me. Not only did they help me, but Matt himself took time out of his busy life to restore my damaged data and figure out a way to export it.
In a nutshell: I became friends with one of WordPress’s lead developers, I felt somewhat slighted by Six Apart during my efforts to assist in advocating their product, I had an unusual vulnerability spam-wise that made using Movable Type problematic, and I found better support for WordPress at my fingertips, instantly.
Yes, I want to sell books. Of course I do – it’s a major part of how I make my living! And I also have a co-author to consider – Porter deserves to see the book be as successful as it can as well. But I also have to make reasonable decisions in running molly.com, which, while obviously often a personal site, is also my public and professional face that I alone manage. It’s not a small site anymore, and proper management and support are necessary in order for me to enjoy my web site rather than see it as yet another chore.
My move is definitely a personal and public endorsement of WordPress. No question. However, it should not be construed as a negative hit against Movable Type because it is absolutely not that. In fact, there are already situations in which I prefer to recommend MT. And I have little doubt that there will be times when I use MT for a given project for certain reasons.
Now as for the book, having explored MT 3.0 more, I’m confident the book is going to be a huge help for those folks wanting to use MT. There are only two feature changes and an interface modification that is not so different than what’s in the book as to cause troubles for the book’s intended audience: Beginning users to Movable Type. So the book is not only viable, I’m confident that I can recommend it. And in recent weeks, I’ve met up in person with Anil and he not only brought along a book for me n’ Porter to sign at an event, but he reassured me the book was worthy and would be helpful to MT adopters for the foreseeable future. That did a lot to bridge any former frustrations, so thank you for that, Anil. You are a true diplomat and Six Apart is lucky to have you.
The way I explain it to myself is this: I write and teach numerous software products, such as Dreamweaver, all the time. But when it comes to my own sites, I don’t use Dreamweaver – not because I don’t love the program for certain sites – but because we all want the right tool for the job. You know, that hammer with the worn spot on the handle that fits your hand just right, a great carving knife that you know will slice your Sunday roast like butter.
WordPress suits me. It’s free. It’s supported in true open source style. It’s being built and extended by people who care about blogging and the web. It uses PHP rather than Perl/CGI, which is compatible with my personal needs, not to mention that I want to learn PHP, which is something that anyone using WordPress to any extent finds themselves doing.
That Movable Type is transitioning from a publishing tool for the people to a publishing tool for larger-scale enterprise is good news for Six Apart. I’m truly happy for their success and I wish them very well, with a strong encouragement to keep moving their product forward with an awareness of web standards, and with an open mind to their audiences.
So given all of this, what would you have done?