New Movable Type disappoints

I’ve spent a bit of time this weekend upgrading my Movable Type experimental blog to the latest MT version 3.2 released on 25 August.

Installation of the new version was pretty smooth, no real issues with it, thanks to the excellent installation guide in the new 3.2 manual.

I do have issues, though, with expectations on what you should reasonably expect to be able to do with your blog after installing the new version of the platform.

As I’ve commented in my other blog, I’m pretty disappointed with the hurdles I’m now jumping following the upgrade.

I’d certainly expect the release version of a blog tool like this it to be a lot easier to dive into after installation and do what you want to do with the new features and functionality that supposedly are ready and usable. And I’d certainly expect the help system to be a bit more complete – every question-mark link I clicked on from within my MT installation got to the online MT help system with pages saying "Coming soon…" That’s just not good enough.

So I’m spending far too much time scratching my head and trying to figure out why something doesn’t work. It looks like quite a few others are doing their own head-scratching as well.

As a complete MT newbie, maybe my expectations on what I can do with 3.2 out of the box, so to speak, are a little unrealistic. Yet I would argue that Six Apart has set a high expectation level on what almost anyone keen to use the tool should be able to do relatively easily.

Am I being wholly unrealistic in my expectations for Movable Type 3.2? An unfair critique of Six Apart?  I want to use Movable Type. But maybe I should just go with WordPress – that seems far easier to use.

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17 thoughts on “New Movable Type disappoints

  1. Goodbye MT, hello WordPress

    I don’t know why, but it never occured to me before today that I might try installing something other than Movable Type. Thanks to Neville Hobson for making me realise that, duh, everyone always seems to be going on about how easy WordPress is t…

  2. I downloaded the Movable Type 2.0 upgrade yesterday but have not installed it as of yet. Based on your comments I will definitely hold off on upgrading for the moment. I use Movable Type for my personal website but I also use WordPress for my Red Room Chronicles blog and my New York Minute Show podcast. I must say that I like WordPress a lot better for managing a single website. There are some very nice plug-ins and the product has been very easy for me to install, configure and customize. That said, I think that Movable Type does a better job overall of managing multiples blogs. If that’s not a priority for you then I’d recommend WordPress.

  3. Rob, I think MT version 3.2 really is outstanding. Six Apart have done a tremendous job with this. The new features and functionality make upgrading to this version very worthwhile. Indeed, that’s one of the big appeals for anyone considering MT. Plus the MT admin interface itself is excellent, very easy to manage your blog.
    If it all worked, that is. I really am very disappointed with my headache experiences over the past 48 hours.
    I agree with you that WordPress is much easier to manage. I’m also experimenting with WP and have been able to achieve more in terms of tweaking that blog far more quickly and easily than the Movable Type blog.
    Good point re MT and managing multiple blogs. I agree, I think that is one of its fundamental strengths. Plus its sheer robustness in effectively managing security, eg, authenticating commenters and helping prevent comment and trackback spam.
    I really do want to use MT. But if I can do what I want more easily in WP, well, then that will be my choice.
    Still not decided yet, though!

  4. Movable Type 3.2 dissapoints?

    NevOn argues that New Movable Type Disappoints. I agree. WordPress is much easier. But let me point out one thing. SixApart is a business corporation living on selling MovableType and TypePad. An adequate support for free download is in not their stra…

  5. I don’t want to sound like I hate MT, but I gotta say I tried installing MT3.2 this weekend and have yet to get a working version. I follow the instructions to the letter and yet, I can’t seem to get past the “setting up databases” page.
    I also installed the latest build of WordPress this weekend and had it up and running in about 60 seconds. WP is really amazing when it comes to installation. It may not be as powerful as MT, but it works for what I am using it for.

  6. Although MT and WP are both blogging software programs, I believe they are suited for different purposes and audiences.
    As Rob already mentioned, MT is more suitable for multiple weblogs whereas WP is more suitable for a single weblog with multiple authors.
    There are some WP plugins ( which can mimic multiple blogs and WP MultiUser ( is currently in development, but I feel they are still a little ways off from coming up with a finished/polished product.
    While WP may not be at the same level as MT in regards to spam prevention, it has come a long way and there are a number of plugins/features to help keep it under control
    That aside – I’d certainly suggest reading over the feature sets of each blogging platform and then decide which is better for you personally (e.g. a pro/con list for each)

  7. I agree, Teli, MT and WP have their different strengths and weaknesses. And doing a sort of a SWOT analysis on each really is a sensible idea, something I have not actually done myself.
    It’s interesting that Six Apart are now beginning to describe MT as a content management system, not a blogging platform. That marks an interesting new direction, it seems to me, which adds more weight to the notion of thoroughly evaluating tools like this to best determine suitability vs. needs.

  8. Both offer various needs to different users, personally it has to be wordpress, i use MT for a commercial blog and it manages well, but is very heavy on the server load with the comment script.

  9. Teli, I agree with you that the MT and WP are suited for different purposes.
    I was making an assumption that either one fits the author’s needs considering that he is considering switching to WP.

  10. I got my MT installation upgraded by my web host after reading your article. I like the look of the new version very much, however:
    1. I was unable to install the Stylecatcher plugin, mainly because I couldn’t find any clear instructions, and judging by the MT support forum I wasn’t the only one.
    2. Despite using the new default template and stylesheet I was unable to get the template to work properly.
    At that point I decided to put it on the back burner for a day or two before my hair got any greyer!
    I’ve been using WordPress on and off for about a year and have found it easier to use by far. I have also found that by posting on the WP support forum I can usually find someone who can help. I like MT and would like to use it, especially as I chose my web host because they were recommended by MT. However, if I had to choose at the moment I would go for WordPress every time.

  11. Annie, the StyleCatcher plugin version 1.0 that was released last week didn’t work with MT 3.2. Imagine! They didn’t say that.
    The good news is that version 1.01 is out and it does work (I tried it out on my MT blog:
    Definitely worth a further look and a bit of perseverance.
    I’m still in two minds about MT vs. WP. What I’m mostly hearing from most people is go with WP. Hmm. More tyre-kicking with both this weekend, I think…

  12. “Annie, the StyleCatcher plugin version 1.0 that was released last week didn’t work with MT 3.2. Imagine! They didn’t say that.”
    To be accurate, it did work with 3.2, though we definitely didn’t do a good enough job of having the documentation for the plugin, since it’s not a core part of Movable Type 3.2.
    Also, one reason that your comments are disproportionately in favor of WordPress might be because the WordPress application itself displays a news feed which linked to your post because you’d said you were disappointed… this is different from the news feed in Movable Type which only lists news about the platform.

  13. It didn’t work at all, Anil, when I installed it and tried to use it the day I installed MT 3.2. For instance, when downloading themes from the Six Apart library, nothing would save on my server (if that’s what was supposed to happen – no documentation so I had no clear idea, although that’s what I would expect to happen when there’s a heading on the page saying ‘Saved Themes’).
    Even now, with the 1.01 version, it’s still poorly implemented in my view. Yes it works in that I can change themes. But interaction with some links on the StyleCatcher page in my MT admin produces odd results.
    Example – I notice that under one of the saved themes (1.01 shows those), there’s a link saying ‘Show Details.’ Clicking that produces nothing, it just toggles to a blank and back.
    But StyleCatcher was really a comparatively and disappointing minor issue for me. The big one – no documentation about 3.2 tags, which I posted about in my Movable Type experimental blog on the 28th and filed a help ticket with MT Support. That was a *massive* frustration and almost killed in its tracks my desire to continue trying out MT after wasting hours trying to find such information. Luckily, that help ticket helped stimulate the quicker publication of some documentation which appeared around the 30th and has proved extremely helpful, as I’ve posted on my MT experimental blog.
    So you think my comments in this post are disproportionately in favour of WordPress. Why do you think they’re disproportionate? Because someone (I have no idea who) included a link to this post in the WordPress dashboard (yes, I’ve seen it too when I log in to WordPress)? Or because I’m critical of Movable Type and not of WordPress purely because of my experience with both?
    Here’s my reality from my little experience so far of both platforms – I have less problems with WordPress in understanding what to do and how to do it. It’s that simple. I can do things, add themes, understand the template structures, etc, because I can clearly understand how to do such things without going to the help system all the time or posting help requests in the forums. If I need help, I can study the excellent and copious documentation that a lay newbie like me can easily understand.
    In addition, I’ve had a stream of email from WordPress users offering me advice and help from reading what I’ve been posting about my usability experience on my WordPress experimental blog. Comments to posts as well.
    I’ve had no similar email from any Movable Type user, but I have had helpful comments to my posts over on my Movable Type experimental blog.
    Such things do influence my overall impression about both platforms.
    I’m actually surprised by your comment here, Anil. I am pre-disposed, so to speak, to be an MT customer. I *want* to use MT! As a TypePad user for over a year, I have a sort of affinity for your company’s products and services. You know that because you’ve commented to a post on my other TypePad blog when I posted comment there with that view. I have a high regard for your brands (almost the same kind of strong ‘brand love’ I have for for, say, Volvo V70s as compared to almost any other car).
    I had decided to go with Movable Type and started my experiment with 3.17. A number of people whose views I trust said to me, wait, at least look at WP. Don’t make your choice without at least doing that, they said. Sensible advice, so I followed it.
    Now it’s very clear that was wise advice. Incidentally, none of those people are WP users; they’re TypePad users and one MT user.
    Heiko, the answer to your question is as plain as daylight in the posts on my MT experimental blog (link in the first paragraph of this post).
    I’ve not yet posted more comments here in this blog – I’ve been posting my try-out experiences in the two experimental blogs as I’ve had time which I’ll continue to do as I continue learning more about each platform as I have time. I’ll continue to file help tickets with MT Support as necessary. (And, incidentally, there you have a true gem – your support staff. Wonderfully helpful and a pleasure to deal with.)
    Then I’ll make my mind up. That will be soon.

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