Movable Type Update Comes at a Price

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-05-14

Movable Type Update Comes at a Price

In launching the next version of its Movable Type Weblogging software, Six Apart also has unleashed a blogger flame war. The target: its decision to formally charge users for software licenses.

Movable Type 3.0 went out Thursday as a developer edition with a more extensive set of APIs that allow developers and IT departments to create new plug-in applications and to tie the software into enterprise systems, said Anil Dash, vice president of business development at the San Mateo, Calif., company.

But the new release also is ushering in a significant shift in Six Apart Ltd.s licensing and pricing for Movable Type. The company had offered previous versions of Movable Type for free—asking users for donations—except when used for commercial purposes.

Movable Type is one of a growing number of software tools used to create, manage and post content to blogs. Blogs are Web sites that have sprouted throughout the Web in a form akin to an online diary; they also are being used on companies internal sites as a way to communicate and collaborate.

Along with software, Six Apart offers a hosted service called TypePad. It competes with other blogging services such as Google Inc.s Blogger, which revamped its service earlier this week.

With Movable Type 3.0, Six Apart is limiting its free version to single, personal users publishing no more than three blogs. For other personal users, Six Apart is charging between $69.95 and $149.95 depending on the number of authors and blogs published, according to its pricing list. For businesses and enterprises, a commercial license is available that ranges from $199.95 to $599.95.

Next Page: "Its just completely outside the realm of useful for me," one blogger writes.

Outside the Realm

The shift to charging for most users has led to outrage among some bloggers, who have been swiftly writing missives on their Movable Type-powered blogs about the pricing being too high and the restrictions on the number of authors and published blogs being too tough.

"Its just completely outside the realm of useful for me," wrote a poster on the blog Dereks Rantings and Musings, who explained that his site exceeds the number of authors and blogs allowed for a personal license.

"So now, barring a radical change in Six Aparts pricing scheme, Ill be on the lookout for a new Weblog suite," the poster wrote.

Other bloggers have come to Six Aparts defense, pointing out that no software company can continue to survive and develop without charging. Dave Winer, the founder of another blog-software maker, UserLand Software, is one such ally.

"If you use their software, you owe them some money," he wrote in his Scripting News blog.

"If you dont like the price, dont use it. Amazingly, theyre not asking for money if you use the new software in a limited form, or continue to use the old software."

Six Aparts Dash said part of the reason for the new licensing scheme was to address the increasing use of Movable Type within enterprise IT departments, which often require clear commercial licensing guidelines.

Six Aparts founder also explaining in postings on the companys Web site that as Movable Types use has grown, so has the need to charge for the software. All but the free version of Movable Type 3.0 include support.

"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," co-founder Mena Trott wrote in her Menas Corner blog.

"As our user base grew and the tool became even more popular, it has become difficult to develop and offer support while relying on voluntary donations."

Six Apart is initially focusing Movable Type 3.0 on developers to expand beyond its 100-some developers and the nearly 300 plug-ins already available for Movable Type, officials said. A general release of Movable Type 3.0 is expected in a few weeks, Dash said.

Beyond the pricing changes, the new version also includes a revamped core publishing engine that can generate Web pages after a post between 10 times and 100 times faster, Dash said.

With Movable Type 3.0, Six Apart also is adding more ways for bloggers to manage reader comments. The new release supports Six Aparts TypeKey authentication system, which verifies the identity of posters as a way of fighting the posting of "spam" comments such as off-topic commercial solicitations.

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