Movable Type 3.0 Developer Edition


Movable Type 3.0 Developer Edition is finally here, and we've got a lot to say about it. Mena's explained the thinking that went into this new version over at Mena's Corner, where you can get the full story. First, information on our new licenses, new prices, and our commitment to a free version:

As I hope you already know, today we launched the Movable Type 3.0 Developer Edition, what you may not know is that with this release we are also making major improvements in our licensing and support policies.

And, if you've noticed the $20,000 in prizes we mentioned above, you can find out about our commitment to developers:

[W]e are also announcing a contest, called "Plug into Movable Type: 3.0 Developer Contest" to motivate developers to build cool new plugins for Movable Type 3.0 that make use of the new plugin architecture. While we (Six Apart) are already building out the features that we'll be including in subsequent releases, we believe that we'll really amazed by the extensions that the developer community thinks of.

Posted by anildash at 04:21 AM | Permalink

It's About Time


Update: Thanks for all your feedback. Please read this post that hopefully answers a lot of questions as well as explains some changes we're making.

Commitment to a Free Version, while getting our pricing right

As I hope you already know, today we launched the Movable Type 3.0 Developer Edition, what you may not know is that with this release we are also making major improvements in our licensing and support policies.

Over the past couple years, since our first release of Movable Type, we've tried to balance offering a product for free while being able to continue to innovate and develop. When our user base was in the hundreds and our users tended to be of the developer or designer breed and required less support, it was quite easy to release new versions at a fairly quick pace. As our user base grew and the tool became even more popular, it has become difficult to develop and offer support while relying on voluntarily donations.

That's not to say we aren't completely appreciative of those who donated. Every one of you has made it possible for Six Apart to exist today.

Ben and I are incredibly proud to see that Movable Type, the product that we first developed in our spare bedroom, has now enabled us to become a company that not only allows good people to have jobs that they (hopefully) enjoy but also a company that remembers those who got us here. Even better is that now we can say that so many of our staff were not only first and foremost Movable Type users but also people who volunteered for so long.

Before we were "Six Apart, the corporation" and were just "Ben and Mena," we were torn about our licensing structure. While we had no qualms about offering Movable Type for free, we knew that sooner or later our work was going to be exploited.

In preventing web hosts from offering Movable Type for a fee, we had to put a pretty strict blanket clause on our licenses to cover all cases when compensation was earned. Buying a commercial license to perform services was a bit backwards, but at the time, it was the only way we felt we could control the situation.

The problem with this was that it also stifled those who wanted to legitimately integrate Movable Type into their core service offerings. These were developers, designers and companies that loved Movable Type and felt that it was a good tool to provide to their clients.

With 3.0 we have revised our licenses and pricing structure to address this issue. We feel that with this new release we have created licensing that allows and encourages the development of software and services paid or free. We will be offering a variety of licensing options for small to large sized business, educational institutions and we are also beginning to sign-up qualified companies who are interested in hosting Movable Type (we'll be announcing a few partnerships very soon).

And for the many large institutions and businesses who want to use Movable Type, we finally have a coherent licensing structure that benefits both the end user and Six Apart.

Yes, there will be a free version of Movable Type 3.0.

With the new licenses going in effect today we will continue our tradition of offering a fully functional free version, there will also be a large variety of paid licenses that come with the structured support that we never felt that we could give our donors enough of. We're bringing in a help ticket system for paid licensees as well a company maintained knowledge base.

Additionally, as promised, donors who have ever contributed $20 or more to Movable Type will be able to apply their full donation to this version. For many who donated, the difference after applying their donation will be a nominal fee.

You'll see from the pricing chart that the cost of offered licenses vary based on the number of authors and weblogs people plan to have. Based on surveys and user feedback, we are fairly comfortable these licenses will meet the needs of over 85% percent of our current users

We're big on honor at Six Apart. We haven't built in any nagware for license violations or phone home mechanisms. We trust our users' good judgment and intentions. We intend to use our good judgment in being flexible about enforcing these limits.

Commitment to reinvesting in Movable Type

Offering a paid version means we can devote a team at Six Apart solely to Movable Type. It means that we can continue to innovate, continue to put out great releases and continue to pour resources into Movable Type.

Throughout all of this, though, we're not forgetting the users who have brought Movable Type this far. You don't need to be a developer to download our new release — there's that trust thing again — Movable Type 3.0 Developer Edition offers more than just an extensible architecture, it offers great comment management, moderation, and registration tools - we believe this are incredibly flexible and well thought-out and some users just won't want to wait.

We would recommend that, if you're not the type of person who likes to tinker with Movable Type or would require a installation, you hold off until the general release. We won't be providing installation services for 3.0 (we'll still install 2.661) during this period to reinforce that this is a period for diehard Movable Type users.

One final thing. You'll notice that we're no longer describing Movable Type as a "Personal Publishing System" -- we now call it a "Publishing Platform." While "personal" remains a major component to weblogging, the medium continues to evolve and so must the tools. We feel that offering Movable Type as a platform will embrace the new uses of weblogs that we have yet to imagine.

Posted by Mena at 02:31 AM | Permalink

Movable Type 3.0 Developer Edition


We've just released the Developer Edition of Movable Type 3.0.

If you're a developer or if you want to know specifically why we have this developer edition, please read this post, Movable Type Developer Edition 3.0.

We've also just launched Plug In to Movable Type 3.0 Developer's Contest where we're awarding $20,000 worth of prizes to plugin developers.

If you want to know some of the thinking behind our new pricing and licensing, read Commitment to a Free Version, while getting our pricing right.

And, based on the early feedback we've received about the new licensing, we've written up a brief explanation clarifying some points and explaining a few of the changes that we've made.

Since yesterday we've received quite a bit of feedback about the new licenses. A lot of the feedback has been very constructive, and we thank everyone for taking the time to express their criticisms and support. Because we want to respond to them relatively quickly, I may miss some questions in this post.

One of the most valid comments we heard is that the personal licenses do not work well for many people who are currently using Movable Type. This surprised us because in a survey of 2500 people, a whopping 85% of respondents had 5 of fewer weblogs or authors. This help educate our final decisions about the weblog and author limits.

Below we'll clarify some misconceptions and miscommunications (from our end) and describe the changes we're making to the licensing structure that should make the licenses fit better for most everyone who uses Movable Type.

Here are some of the most common questions we received/heard.

If I'm using Movable Type 2.661 or lower, do I have to suddenly pay now for my current version or follow the weblog/author limits for my copy?

No. For anyone who is complying with the license of 2.661 or below, there is no requirement to upgrade to 3.0 or any future version of Movable Type. The license which was in effect when you downloaded your version of Movable Type is the one that applies to your copy.

Why is there a single CPU restriction in the license?

The single CPU usage statement was not intended to be in the license. It has been struck from the license, and everyone who has downloaded Movable Type 3.0 thus far can officially consider this change retroactive.

Why are there limits on the number of weblogs and authors I can have on one Movable Type installation?

One of the biggest criticisms we've heard thus far regards the limitation on the number of weblogs allowed at each tier of the new licensing structure. Our best explanation for the tiering is that we feel a personal user who sets up weblogs for 50 of his friends should pay more for a license than one who uses only one weblog for himself.

Weblogs and authors are two of the best metrics we have to measure the usage of Movable Type on a given installation; they're not perfect (more about this below), but we do believe that they are useful in constructing a license structure.

However, we have heard a number of criticisms that personal users feel they are locked out of using Movable Type, or forced into using a commercial license, if they have more than 10 weblogs. We created volume licenses to address these cases but they didn't sufficiently address a number of scenarios.

To address this, we're doing 3 things:

We'll also be eliminating the Volume License options from the Personal Edition. But if you've already purchased one of these packages, your weblog and author limits have been increased as well to correspond to the author/weblog packs:

These changes will take effect early next week after we can devote some more engineering resources to the billing backend.

What is a "weblog" defined as? What if I have multiple "Weblogs" in Movable Type all used to create 1 site?

The question of what a "weblog" is is somewhat muddy, but the basic answer to the first question is that, if you're using multiple "Weblogs" in Movable Type in order to build 1 site, that only counts as 1 weblog towards the license limits.

In our licenses, we now address this with this language: "Weblog" means a single Web site viewable at a single URL (Uniform Resource Locator), consisting of one or more weblogs as generated by the Software via the "Create New Weblog" function of the Software.

To be clear, sub-weblogs that make up weblog sites shouldn't be counted toward your weblog total.

Here's an example:

If your weblog site is constructed from 4 "Weblogs" in Movable Type -- one for the main weblog text, one for a link list, one for a music list, and one for a book list -- this should count as only 1 weblog towards the number of weblogs you're allowed according to the license.

We realize that many Movable Type users do this, quite often; for example, the site is constructed from 3 different weblogs. We'll be working on making this distinction simpler from a technical perspective, but we hope this clarifies it.

Furthermore, it is not our intention to stiffle the creativity of our users. So, if you have a great weblog that uses 11 weblogs seamlessly to appear as one site or weblog, you should not be penalized.

It's our goal to make it easier for you to do all that with one weblog.

What if I have a weblog or author who's no longer active on my installation?

This was a less common question, but it's one that I think we need to clarify.

The limits in the license govern the use of Active weblogs and authors. For the purposes of the license restrictions, we're defining a weblog as "Active" if you've posted to it within the last 90 days (receiving comments do not count), and an author as "Active" if that author has posted within the last 90 days.

So, if you have a couple of weblogs in Movable Type that you no longer post to, but want to keep around for archival purposes, that doesn't count towards your license limit. The same goes for authors on your installation.

Do my prior commercial payments count toward a new commercial license?

Yes. Unfortunately, commercial users received a key that is undistinguisable from a $20 donation key. We will be honoring past commercial donation and will only need to know your Paypal transaction ID. Since we're still working out the discount, please be patient and we'll be sure to address your individual situation.

We hope that the above points clarify some of the most frequently-asked questions and criticisms. The fact is, this is a process--it took a lot of work, from both technical and business perspectives, to get to the point of release, but we know that there's more work to be done. We're sure more questions are bound to come up and we'll try to make sure to answer them.

Posted by Mena at 01:35 AM | Permalink

Movable Type Developer Edition 3.0


I'm really excited to be able to finally post about our new version of Movable Type and the innovative way we are launching it.

As I said in my previous post to Mena's Corner, the plugin and developer community is one of Movable Type's greatest strengths. This is a sentiment we've seen echoed around the Movable Type community, as well, along with the question: if Six Apart recognizes that the developer community is one its strengths, what are they doing to foster that community?

I addressed some of what we're doing in my previous post, but I want to expand on that.

As I said above, today, we'll be releasing the Developer Release of Movable Type 3.0.

It will be available to everyone, not just developers; we're calling it a Developer Release to emphasize the fact that 3.0 itself is not a feature release in the traditional sense. With this release we hope that the developer community will implement some great extensions for 3.0.

Since many of Six Apart's employees are Apple fanboys/girls, we make the analogy to the first releases of OS X: the first releases did not offer that many new features themselves, only a more stable and robust platform for developers to build upon.

The Developer Release is just the first step in our commitment to developers.

Along with the release, we're doing the following:

Developer Contest

Today release, we are also announcing a contest, called "Plug into Movable Type: 3.0 Developer Contest" to motivate developers to build cool new plugins for Movable Type 3.0 that make use of the new plugin architecture. While we (Six Apart) are already building out the features that we'll be including in subsequent releases, we believe that we'll really amazed by the extensions that the developer community thinks of.

The contest is geared towards building upon Movable Type as an application platform, and taking advantage of the new features in Movable Type 3.0.

We'll be giving away fantastic prizes — a $7K computer system is the first prize — these are prizes that many people on our team have expressed they want to win (but, of course, now we realize why employees and family of employees aren't eligible). The judges (internal and external to Six Apart) will base their decisions on both technical criteria: which extensions are most robust, make the best use of the new architecture, are optimize to perform on a different set-ups and hosts, etc --as well as user-facing criteria: which plugins are the coolest from a user perspective and have the greatest mass appeal.

Developers own their work

For the winners, they'll get great prizes, but they'll also get exposure. The developers who enter this contest will retain full ownership over the plugins they develop. When we were discussing this contest internally, we wanted to make sure that this wasn't the sort of contest that took ownership over all work submitted. While those who enter will grant us permission to distribute the plugins, we will not own the copyright. And, if they want to sell their plugin in the future (if that appeals to them), they can do that as well.

In that vein, we'll be creating a Plugin Pack to distribute the winning plugins. This will give users the ability to easily take advantage of the new features and extensions.

Hopefully, this contest will serve multiple purposes:

1. To highlight the platform changes in 3.0
2. To produce plugins that non-developers can use
3. To bring Movable Type developers out of the woodwork so that we can recognize their work and bring them into a network for referrals.
4. Possibly find the sort of talent that we'd like to bring into Six Apart.

Jumpstarting the Developer Network

We'll be starting a more formalized developer network, as a way for developers to get exposure both in the Movable Type community and in the business markets that Movable Type has been adopted in. Part of what we've heard from the community is that they feel like they are one of our greatest strengths, but that they didn't know if Six Apart was ready to make a commitment to support its external developers.

As mentioned above, we've changed our licenses for Movable Type 3.0, removing the clauses that don't allow consultants to charge for supporting Movable Type. The new licenses give developers and consultants the chance to make a living around supporting, extending, and customizing Movable Type. And, Six Apart is dedicated to helping that community thrive.

As a kickoff to the network, we'll be setting up an informal developer workshop to get a sense of what developers think we should be doing, their feedback on the direction of Movable Type, etc. If you're interested, keep an eye out for an announcement in the coming weeks.

And no, there isn't going to be a fee to join the network.

Call for Talent

At launch, we'll be unveiling a slightly refreshed We'll have a special developer page set up with a form that will allow consultants and Movable Type developers (this includes template designers, plugin developers, Movable Type pros, etc...) to let us know what we need to do to help make them successful and how they'd like to work with us in the future.

Since we've been focused inwardly for so long, we honestly don't know all the stars in the community.

If you're one of these stars or if you have stories about how you use Movable Type inside your company, we'd love to hear how we all can mesh best. We'll then have, if all goes well, a strong directory of those who provide services at the launch of the non-developer version of Movable Type.

This is the first step --a baby step --but a significant step.

A lot of information to digest in a post that was meant to be brief. I hope that I've conveyed the excitement we feel at Six Apart. We know that our community it incredibly strong, that there are some amazing people out there that will create great enhancements and that this is just the beginning of an even stronger relationship with our users.

We look forward to this release and the many to follow after.

Posted by Mena at 02:28 AM | Permalink


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