We're glad to announce an update to the StyleCatcher plugin announced last week. StyleCatcher 1.01 fixes a number of little bugs, offers some helpful documentation in the README file about how to get started, and introduces a cool new feature: The Greasemonkey Style Installer.
StyleCatcher is designed to be able to retrieve styles from any style repository that follows a few simple conventions we've defined, and we'll be publishing documentation for how you can host your own style repository. But to get started, you can test this new functionality with our own Movable Type style library.
Our goal was to make switching styles as automatic as possible. So, if you're using Movable Type and StyleCatcher on the Firefox browser with the Greasemonkey extension, you can now install an automatically-configured script that will let you add a style to your site from any repository. The link to install the script is right at the bottom of the new StyleCatcher screen in your Movable Type installation. Once you've installed the script, your browser will show a "Throw this style to StyleCatcher" option that lets you go right from the library to your own blog's available styles.
We've also heard loud and clear the requests for three-column layouts for your blog. We'll be providing those as soon as possible, but in the interim, you can use Arvind Satyanarayan's excellent Style Generator to make your own, and the stylesheets generated are completely compatible with the default Vicksburg stylesheet provided with Movable Type 3.2.
Note: To use StyleCatcher's styles with your blog, you'll need to be using the default templates for your individual entry archives, main index, and any category or date-based archives which you wish to apply the styles to. These styles are implemented by default in new installations of Movable Type 3.2, or in blogs created after the installation of Movable Type version 3.2.
If you've upgraded from an older version or have customized your templates, you can restore your templates to the default version by using the Backup and Refresh Templates plugin that is included with Movable Type 3.2.
To refresh your templates to the default, go to the Templates listing for your blog, select the template(s) you wish to refresh, and choose "Refresh Templates" from the actions menu on the templates listing. Click "Go", and your existing template will be backed up and renamed, and a new default template will be created.
Chris Vannoy has posted some simple Movable Type templates based on the new default templates in Movable Type, but with much of the XHTML structure stripped out so they're easier to read. As Chris explains in his following post, they're not designed to be used on an actual site, since the styling would be pretty ugly by default, but they're a useful basis for creating your own completely custom design if you just need a place to get started.
We'll be producing additional documentation about all the new abilities that templates and styles have in Movable Type 3.2, but this is a great place to start if you just want to see the basics of what a template can do.
As we were proud to announce yesterday, Movable Type 3.2 has been released. We'll be providing a lot more details and documentation in the days and weeks to come, but Brad Choate's started the parade of cool new tips and tracks with his description of LightTPD and FastCGI support in version 3.2.
We're always excited to expand Movable Type's platform support, especially to environments that can improve responsiveness and performance. If you're familiar with the power of LightTPD and FastCGI, you'll want to try out your new Movable Type 3.2 install using Brad's directions.
Even though our ProNet weblog has already linked to Photo Gallery Templates, Doug Bowman's amazingly elegant and massively thorough set of Movable Type templates used to create gorgeous photo presentations, I would be remiss if I failed to give a shout out to the work he's done.
Like Anil says over on Pronet: "if you're interested in doing justice to your photos using the full power of Movable Type, or just want to marvel at some really creative work, give Doug's writeup a look."
And with the new version of Movable Type (3.2) coming really soon, you'll be pleased to know that Doug's work is compatible with the release:
In addition to publishing existing galleries with my current install of MT 3.17, I’ve also been testing with the betas of MT 3.2. The templates work flawlessly in all the recent betas. I was a little worried in early beta stages, since Photon stopped communicating with MT. But later betas (b4+) fixed the problem, and Photon now happily exports to MT 3.2. Just in time for the imminent final release of MT 3.2.
More reason we're (and you'll be) incredibly happy about having a
long extensive beta cycle. I can't wait to see people using Photo Gallery Templates and Movable Type 3.2.
Oh, and I've got to love Doug's Disney Signage gallery.
Doug Bowman's made an amazing new set of Movable Type templates available on Stopdesign, simply titled Photo Gallery Templates. The power and flexibility of the Movable Type platform is really shown off in Doug's work, which uses almost twenty (!) plugins, easily imports photos from iPhoto on the Mac, and generates and incredibly elegant, powerful presentation for your photos.
If you're trying to find inspiration for your own Movable Type hacking, are interested in doing justice to your photos using the full power of Movable Type, or just want to marvel at some really creative work, give Doug's writeup a look.
One of the best ways to improve the community around your weblog is to encourage accountability. But to make that happen, you have to have a consistent identity for each of the people who contributes comments to your site, so that you can know who each person is. This is especially important in Movable Type 3.2, where each commenter has an individual page where a blog owner can see all of that person's comments across all the blogs in the system.
To make this kind of accountability possible, we introduced the TypeKey authentication service last year. Since then, millions of people have signed in with the service, and dozens of tools have sprung up around TypeKey, either serving as replacements for the authentication service, as connections to other services which can be used in place of TypeKey, or to let you use your TypeKey account on other sites.
Enabling TypeKey on Movable Type sites has been unnecessarily complex, though. So with the release of Movable Type 3.2, we're introducing a big step forward.
TypeKey in three clicks
How does it work? Well, if you're logged into TypeKey, (and these days, it's easy, since TypeKey remembers your login status.) you can start just by visiting the Feedback Settings for your blog. Here's you'll find the "Setup Authentication" button.
Click the button, and you'll be taken to your TypeKey account, where it will verify the address of your Movable Type installation and your account name. Click "return to Movable Type" and you'll be back at your blog's Feedback Settings.
Once you're back in, your TypeKey authentication token's been entered into the application, so all you need to do is click "Save Changes" at the bottom of the settings page and TypeKey is enabled for your blog.
Now you've got a consistent way to manage your commenters. And you can give privileges to certain trusted authenticated commenters, such as having their comments appear without moderation, that reward them for helping encourage accountability on your site. Plus, if you have community members who prefer not to be authenticated, you have the option to include their contributions as well, with full control over how their feedback is displayed and whether it's displayed by default.
[This is part twenty-five in a series called "Our 32 Favorite Features of Movable Type 3.2".]
Cameron Moll's published the first few entries in his new series on mobile web design. Given the amazing work that Cameron does on his Movable Type-powered blog, it's sure to be a useful reference if you'd like to ensure a good experience for people who view content on phones, PDAs, and other mobile devices.
From the it's-great-to-have- a-Japanese-subsidiary department, comes Toph and TophToph, TypePad's new mascot originating from Japan. Last year Six Apart KK (the Japanese subsidiary) held a public competition to come up with our very own character/mascot. After voting, Toph, designed by TypePad blogger, "Kotori", was the winner.
But it gets better: Toph has a backstory in which I give him to a little 10 year-old girl named Hana and they share a summer vacation together. Hana and Toph's vacation is documented on her very own weblog.
Kotori, the creator, notes that:
- "Toph and TophToph are best friends."
- "Toph and TophToph don't understand complicated things."
- "Toph and TophToph's bodies are basically one big cheek."
Update: I accidentally left out the name of the co-creator of Toph and TophToph, Kotori's wife, Maki. As a husband and wife team ourselves, it's great to see this collaboration.
Last week, we launched a number of new features on the TypePad service, but Professional Network members might be most interested in the new Notes TypeList. TypeLists are the sidebar content like lists of links, books, music, and blogrolls that you can easily update with the TypePad service. And Notes TypeLists are little blocks of any arbitrary HTML that you want to put on the side of your blog.
We've offered an Atom API for updating TypeLists for more than a year now. But even more exciting is that the new Notes TypeList supports the Atom API as well. That means that you can now insert content into a TypePad blog's sidebar using the API.
We'll be publishing more details on this, including full API docs, in the future, but this is a good start at seeing how one day's worth of hacking can result in some really great development going into a product.
The site's not new, but some of the appreciation for it is. Long-time favorite Overheard in New York (the content there isn't always safe for work) has always been a blog that gets attention. But the Movable Type-powered site full of "only in New York" quotes has never had its appeal explained so succinctly as in this new piece in Slate. Sam Anderson's distilled the site to its entertaining core, and it's a good understanding of what makes one extremely successful blog tick.
During a spontaneous trip to Disneyland this weekend, I found myself once again thinking about my childhood dream job aspirations. For the first time in my life, I was not drawn to being an attraction operator (think Tiki Room or Haunted Mansion) and actually considered being a character. Ben and I were walking around the park early in the morning and I saw all the various princesses meeting up before they hit the Disney pavement. All these little kids were running up to them with such awe and excitement. And even though I would probably get very tired of the heat and the kids, seeing their reactions made it a pretty desirable job.
And before I get criticized for wanting to be a "princess," since princesses are considered so harmful to the independence of women -- I actually decided I wanted to be Mary Poppins. She gets to walk around with Burt instead of dwarves or field mice and seemed to be pretty confident in her coolness.
Anyway, the point of this story is that when I got to work today, I walked into our kitchen looking for a snack to eat. It was after opening two of our kitchen drawers that I realized that we come pretty damn close to meeting a child's dream office needs -- we literally have drawers filled to the brim with candy. Anil and I joked that the only thing we're missing is an office filled with gummy bears and a ball pit.
If you like candy, we're still hiring.
NewsGator Online provides an API to allow application developers to develop aggregators and other applications that process RSS to use a NewsGator Online user's location, subscription and folder structure in their application. The NewsGator Online API also gives application developers very fine-grained control over synchronizing the read and deleted state of individual posts.
The API supports tracking read/unread status, and it's a subset of the same API that NewsGator applications such as the Outlook client and FeedDemon use themselves. We're interested to see how the community builds on top of this new service.
Anil's currently talking about the latest version of Movable Type (3.2). One thing he's highlighting is the easy way to manage all your weblogs throughout the system through one screen. Something that he said, but didn't go into too much detail is that with version 3.2, *all users* will be entitled to unlimited weblogs. This goes for free users, as well. A lot of the rationale behind this was that the multiple weblog management is so good in 3.2, that we didn't want to have the limit anymore.
We'll have more details about this real soon.
The team over at PaidContent has a great interview with Scott Meyer, who is President and CEO of About.com, which was acquired by the New York Times Company earlier this year.
About.com powers their community with Movable Type-powered weblogs published by their expert guides, so here's some great perspective on how the site can bring the news background of the Times Company closer to the energy and passion of the blogosphere.
Those attending the Blog Business Summit 2005 will be sure to want to catch our Movable Type 3.2 demo tomorrow afternoon at 1:15. Anil and Jay will be onstage demoing some of the new features of 3.2 and we will then be at hand to answer your questions about Movable Type or Six Apart. As an added treat, we'll have copies of Hacking Movable Type signed by our own Brad Choate and Jay Allen (and I guess me, since I wrote the foreword) to give away to some members of the audience. I might be able to snag some of our ViewMaster reels to bring and giveaway at the event.
Over at Six Apart News, Ben writes about the motivation behind us holding a one-day internal hackathon at the company. Besides being a nice break from the usual work our engineers do, this hacking session led to the feature set of our latest TypePad release -- which we have been internally calling our "Scratchathon Release."
Ben writes -- in his post -- about the goal of the "Scratchathon":
So we decided to have a one-day hacking session that we called a Scratchathon--as in, scratching an itch. We stopped the usual project work for a day, and engineers on all of our products spent the day working on features like those described above. The focus for this session was on implementing relatively small features and/or fixes that would have a big impact for ourselves, our customers, and our support staff, and the explicit goal was to quickly channel these features into a product release.
While we'll be detailing the new features over at Everything TypePad, I just have to write about my favorite little new feature in this latest version:
You can now use a checkbox to select which of your photo albums you want to display in your sidebar. For those of you who use TypePad, this is going to be a much welcomed addition. Believe me, not having the ability to choose specific photo albums has bugged me since day one of TypePad.
We'll be publishing an interview with Nick O'Neill, the developer at Six Apart who integrated this feature into TypePad. Look for that later this week (along with interviews with other developers from Six Apart).
Joe Kraus, FeedBurner, and others have done a good job of demonstrating the effectiveness of periodic hackathons on inspiring creativity. As a fast-growing company with multiple products and international offices, though, one of the biggest barriers we've faced has not been lack of creativity in and of itself--what we've been missing, in part, is channeling that creativity into features that get released in our products.
And in addition, because we consistently have, on average, at least 10 projects going on, there are a number of niggling issues that have always bothered us about all of our products: small features that we and our customers have always wanted to see; small issues that have bothered us and have made the products less pleasant to use; etc.
Hillary Johnson's new piece in Inc, Why I Read Business Blogs is one of the best recent stories that explain the appeal of business blogs from a reader's perspective.
The truth is that I recently quit my day job to start a company of my own and have absolutely no free time. The business blogs I read aren't written by, or for, fools. Reading them is something I consider part--granted, an entertaining part--of my "job."
Six Apart board member David Hornik gets some nice mentions in the story, and of course Inc readers who want to get started wtih business blogs should check out Fresh Inc, the Movable Type blog that Inc has published for years.
We're very excited to see our friends at Adobe have just launched Adobe Blogs. It's a great leap forward for a company that makes the tools that many of us use every day, and Bill McCoy describes it well:
...I know that to some, Adobe has appeared somewhat opaque in its internal workings, if not out and out secretive. I'm hopeful that through blogging we will expose more of us to more of you in the community (and visa-versa) and help change that perception.
It's a great step for one of the biggest companies in the software business, and we're sure that it was easy to design the Movable Type-powered sites using Adobe GoLive's support for Movable Type templates!
We've published a page called About Feeds (XML, RSS and Atom) as a resource for people who aren't familiar with the technology to discover what feeds can do.
Right now, the experience of reading and subscribing to feeds is very difficult, not least because there's no consensus around describing the technology or its applications. In publishing this document, we really wanted to make a single resource that's simple enough you could send your clients or customers the link whenever they have a question.
We'll be linking to the resource page in more places in the future, wherever we think users might be confused by the technology. We welcome you to do the same.
Movable Type's been able to publish multiple templates for all of your content for years now, but many people haven't taken advantage of this power. Part of the reason for this feature's relative obscurity was that the interface for the feature was confusing and complex. And though you've always been able to publish files to any address you want, customizing those paths wasn't always intuitive.
But now, in Movable Type 3.2, you can:
- More easily publish as many different versions of your content as you want, all at the same time
- Manage all your archives from one simple form that displays their status
- Choose the exact format of the URL for each bit of content, without having to know any complex scripting or programming language.
How does this work? In a nutshell, archive mapping lets you publish a particular template as an archive type (Monthly, Individual, Category, etc.) in order to produce a set of archive files. And then, for each file you publish, you can choose the specific format of the URL the file sppears at, using a simple set of shortcut codes.
Using archive mapping, you could, for example, provide a PDF version or an XML feed of each entry. You could output posts in a certain category as a custom template such as a Microsoft Word XML document. You could even publish two completely separate sites with the same entries in the same blog.
In Movable Type 3.2, we worked hard to to humanize this feature a bit to make it more accesible to all users. First, we combined what used to be three slightly different, but very similar, forms into a single place where you can configure archive mappings.
In addition, we've made the layout much easier to understand. Smart defaults for URLs let you choose any common address scheme just by picking it off a list. And if you want to create your own unique URL system for your site, you can just use short codes like
%y/%m/%d to represent year/month/date or
%c to automatically insert the category for an entry.
And as always, you can use Movable Type's built-in template tag syntax to lay out your file paths as well. So if you're familiar with building templates in Movable Type, the same tags and attributes will work for your archives.
[This is part twenty-four in a series called "Our 32 Favorite Features of Movable Type 3.2".]
Blog readers are 11 percent more likely than the average Internet user to have incomes of or greater than $75,000. Similarly, blog readers are 11 percent more likely to visit the Web over broadband either at home or the office.
Blog readers tend to make more online purchases. In the first quarter of 2005, less than 40 percent of the total Internet population made online purchases. By contrast, 51 percent of blog readers shopped online. Blog readers also spent six percent more than the average Internet user.
We've got a busy week ahead of us at Six Apart, as our various teams begin to ship the fruits of their labors. Besides new pushes for LiveJournal (check!), Movable Type and TypePad (fingers-crossed), there's a lot of projects going on peripherally to the main releases. Since I can't be involved in all aspects of the company, these projects are often new to me as I read about them in our intranet weblog.
I'd like to call this list "Things I didn't work on or make, but appreciate all the same."
There's a fascinating world on LiveJournal that most people outside of the communities are completely unaware of. Here's a place to spotlight some of these groups and their stories.
LJ's Jam-packed release and commemoration of LJ's 8 millionth user.
The LJ team has been working incredibly hard on this release and it seems to have come off pretty nicely. Special shout out goes to Whitaker who will soon be leaving to finish his last semester in college before returning to Six Apart.
Movable Type 3.2 improved documentation (with comments)
Tim Appnel, MT developer and superstar rewrote the Movable Type documentation. The team is still in the process of cleaning of the manual's layout and template, but you're free to take a look and see all the improvements.
Our new sign!
With a new shiny sign, we feel like we're finally an established business. There's a lot of bling on our current door and we're probably toning it down in the upcoming weeks. However, it's pretty damn cool to see our logos on the doors. Even cooler is when we overhear people on the street talking about using our products after they see the signs.
Something I did make this week:
The new bulls-eye promo graphic for Pronet on the Movable Type main page. I felt that the Professional Network site and blog are just too hard to find, currently, and since there's a great deal of blogging happening on Pronet, it only made sense to bring it to our visitor's attention.
It's a rare thing for me to subscribe to a new weblog feed after reading only one post. I broke habit last month after discovering Something Old, Nothing New a weblog on "thoughts on popular culture and unpopular culture." I found this blog via Scrubbles.net who linked to this great post about Happy Days and have been happily subscribed ever since.
Excellent writing, thorough information and a taste for the obscure but interesting makes this a wonderful read.
Ben's been hacking again, so we've got more little toys to play with. In his post Stupidfool.org: The Joy of Splicing, our Ben Trott describes how he's updated his XML::Feed CPAN module to let you use your Perl-fu to merge together any number of Atom or RSS feeds.
It's no replacement for a real feed-splicing service, but if you just want to get the task done in a few lines of Perl, now there's an easy way to do it.
We're getting pretty close to the final release version of Movable Type 3.2. Last night Jay and the rest of the team released MT 3.2 Beta 4 and they've been actively working on any remaining issues. Before they become incredibly busy getting the final release out, I wanted to take a moment during this break of sorts and congratulate the team on what they've accomplished with 3.2.
Over at dashes.com, Anil celebrates his sixth year of blogging. Anil and I became friends after his Amazon Chagrin post. Although I had never interacted with him before, the pathetic nature of his post motivated me to actually reach out and befriend him. It was a big step for me since I was pretty shy at the time and could imagine him thinking "who the hell is this girl?"
Something that made me incredibly happy today: Looking at the "Six Apart" cluster on Flickr and seeing just how many different people, offices and even animals show up under this tag.
It's taken a lot of work to get to this point, but it's cool to see a search result for Six Apart return photos of so many people other than Ben and me.
BBC News has published a short but compelling interview with Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the world wide web. In discussing his orignal vision of the web as a two-way read/write medium, Berners-Lee has a lot to say about blogging being close to what he'd envisioned:
When you write a blog, you don't write complicated hypertext, you just write text, so I'm very, very happy to see that now it's gone in the direction of becoming more of a creative medium.
One subtle but powerful new feature in Movable Type 3.2 that we're excited about is the ability to define default templates for each new blog that's created on the system.
Once you've created the layout, styles, or feeds that you want published (or just tweaked the cool new designs we're providing), you can just save the templates in the new default template folder. Then, every time a new blog is created, it'll look exactly as you've designed. It's great for having a number of internal company weblogs that follow your design standards. And if you have a specific type of output defined, like a particular XML feed or a proprietary document format, those will automatically appear in each new blog.
As always, you can create the default templates for your blogs either within Movable Type or as files in the file system, and you can use tools Adobe GoLive and Macromedia Dreamweaver to simplify the creation of templates.
[This is part twenty-three in a series called "Our 32 Favorite Features of Movable Type 3.2".]
In the CNN interview I just wrote about, I'm speaking about weblogging to one distinct audience. When I do an interview, I have to take in account the audience and how much or how little they have been exposed to different types of weblogs. Most of the time, I make the assumption that -- for the most part -- exposure has been limited to political weblogs or weblogs of those who are trying to reach larger audiences. I also assume that the average Joe or Jane is going to read the article and will want to understand how weblogging can be incorporated into their own lives.
Over at CNN.com, they're running an interview with me about weblogging, the web and where I see the industry going: Pundits and knitters find common ground in Weblogs.
When Ben read the interview, he commented that it was a sort of "stream of consciousness" piece. Some may think that he meant to say "hey, you're rambling." What *I* think he meant to say is "hey, your passion for weblogging really comes out in this piece!"
From the I-could-never-imagine-a-blog-could-do-this department: Two folks got "Married by Movable Type". It turns out that, in Texas, a marriage isn't official until it's been publicly announced. And, apparently, blogs count.
The best part? They TrackBacked each other's posts.
Congratulations to the couple and here's to many happy blogging years together.
Movable Type's often been praised for both the elegance of its user interface and the way the system's published pages look. But the current generation of default designs have gotten a little long in the tooth, and we wanted to make sure that designers who take the time to make templates and styles get the most value out of their effort. So, we've made some significant improvements to Movable Type 3.2's templates. Here's some highlights:
- An attractive new default stylesheet that works easily with 1, 2, and 3-column layouts
- Dozens of great new themes available for download for your blog, and the ability to customize these or create your own using professional tools like Adobe GoLive CS2
- Consistent XHTML markup and CSS structure between Movable Type, TypePad, and LiveJournal, making it easy to share styles or design for a community of over 10 million blogs
As we mentioned, we've added a new default template and default stylesheet. The new stylesheet, called Vicksburg, offers a cleaner, more modern look for your blogs right out of the box. And extensive customization is easy as always, just by tweaking the CSS file, since the same stylesheet works on the common one-, two- and three-column layouts. We'll also be backing up the default Vicksburg look with dozens of new, professionally-designed styles for your sites.
If you dig a little deeper into the new templates, though, you'll find some more interesting opportunities below the surface. The basic XHTML structure of Movable Type's new templates is the same markup used by our TypePad and LiveJournal services, meaning that there's a much broader base of designers and developers who'll be coding compatible templates and styles. If you're looking to learn from other people's designs, there's a large community of bloggers who'll be working with the same markup. And if you design templates either for free, as linkware, or for a fee, you've now got an audience of 10 million bloggers all able to use a single stylesheet, regardless of their tool of choice.
But what about more practical concerns, if you just want to tweak your styles to look more like your existing site? You can make use of the support for Movable Type template tags in Adobe GoLive CS2, as well as community-contributed template support in other tools such as Macromedia Dreamweaver. You don't need to know any template tags to make your site look exactly as you want, and as always, you don't have to know any programming or scripting language other than XHTML and CSS to customize your design.
[This is part twenty-two in a series called "Our 32 Favorite Features of Movable Type 3.2".]
Movable Type has always supported the easy publishing of as many output templates as you need, with flexible archiving styles and the ability to choose between dynamic or static publishing. But in the past, the sheer number of items listed could be overwhelming, and it wasn't always obvious which types of templates you were managing.
Naturally, we set out to make templates as intuitive as possible in Movable Type 3.2. First, there's a straightforward set of tabs that arrange your templates based on their type. And each of the template listings supports the full advanced listing functionality built into the platform. Plus, the ability to extend the available actions with plugins means it's easy to do things like create a plugin which restores your templates to their default state.
The new display gives you a lot more information about the settings for each of your templates, as well. You can tell at a glance whether a template is being published dynamically, whether the template's content is linke to a file in your filesystem, and whether or not the template should be updated when you publish your index files.
In all, the new power lets you tap into this powerful and flexible templating system a lot more easily than was possible in the past.
[This is part twenty-one in a series called "Our 32 Favorite Features of Movable Type 3.2".]
Two of the best ways to 'get real' with blogging, are by looking at the facts and figures and getting some hands-on practical advice. We here at Six Apart are, obviously, firm believers in the power of blogging. Over the past twelve months, we've seen a big upswing in blogging on both the personal and corporate level. Business blogging is now a big market, and as makers of Movable Type and TypePad, we are often asked by companies and industry leaders to share our knowledge and best practices on how companies can use blogging to impact their bottom line.
Many of you have also asked us for data to back up the growing blogging trend, to help you make the case at your own businesses. So, we were glad to ask comScore Media Metrix to put together a market research report (co-sponsored with Gawker) on "Behaviors of the Blogosphere", that looks at how blog readers are interacting with blogs and delves into who these readers are. The report was released today, and we are excited to announce that nearly 50 million Americans, or about 30 percent of the total U.S. Internet population, visited blogs in Q1 2005 and that three of the top six blog hosts - TypePad.com, Livejournal.com and Blogs.com are Six Apart properties.
The reports' additional major findings include:
- Five hosting services for blogs each had more than 5 million unique visitors in Q1 2005, and four individual blogs had more than 1 million visitors each.
- Of 400 of the largest blogs observed, segmented by eight (non-exclusive) categories, political blogs were the most popular, followed by "hipster" lifestyle blogs, tech blogs and blogs authored by women.
- Compared to the average Internet user, blog readers are significantly more likely to live in wealthier households, be younger and connect to the Web on high-speed connections.
- Compared to the average Web user, blog readers visit nearly twice as many Web pages, and are more likely to shop online.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can take advantage of this growing trend, we recommend attending the upcoming Blog Business Summit on August 17th - 19th in San Francisco. Business bloggers from GM, Boeing, Microsoft and Intuit will be presenting. And our own Anil Dash, who runs our Professional Network, will be speaking about Blog Metrics. We have secured a special Six Apart discount that will save you $400 dollars on registration. We expect this conference to be filled with practical tools and techniques for promoting products, brands, events, and gathering critical business intelligence and competitive data. We look forward to seeing you there.
The beautiful screens you see here were created with a combination of slick CSS and graphics work, Movable Type's alternate application templates, and the new BigPAPI plugin for customizing Movable Type's interface.
We've already shown you how the powerful new listing screens in Movable Type 3.2 let you easily select any item or range of items, just by clicking anywhere on a row. And you can even shift-click to select a range of items such as comments, TrackBacks, entries, weblogs or authors. But once you've selected your items, you're not just limited to the menu options built into the application.
With the new plugin functionality built into Movable Type 3.2, any plugin can add its own menu items to the list of available actions on a listings screen. For example, we can demonstrate a simple plugin which allows you to transfer an entry from one blog to another with just a few clicks. This function isn't part of Movable Type by default, but by enabling the plugin that creates this menu option, we can add this handy new feature.
We've created a 600KB Flash animation showing off this new ability, and if you want to check out some of the thoughts behind writing such a plugin, Ben Trott has a brief blog post describing how easy it is to take advantage of this new functionality.
[This is part twenty in a series called "Our 32 Favorite Features of Movable Type 3.2".]
Those of you who have been blogging for at least a few years will remember a time all permalinks to individual weblog entries looked something like "http://www.example.com/002911.html" where 2911 was the entry ID of the entry in question. This scheme was not only unfriendly to users but also to search engines. Fast forward a few years and now we see the proliferation of search engine- and human-friendly URLs like the one for this entry thanks, in part, to Movable Type's basename field.
The entry basename, introduced in Movable Type 3.0D, consists of the first fifteen characters of an entry title with punctuation and spaces converted to URL-compatible characters. The basename is used by default as the base filename for the individual entry archive and will automatically add a number to the end of your filename to avoid collisions with similarly titled entries (title, title_1, title_2).
The problem with this, however, is that the automatically generated basename doesn't always include the most important parts of the title. For example, if you title an entry "My new job at Six Apart" you end up with "my_new_job_at_s.html". Not very helpful. And if you wanted to have a file name that was completely distinct from your title, it wasn't obvious how to do it.
With Movable Type 3.2, we really unleash the power of the basename field by allowing you to set it right in the entry interface. So now, you can title your entry "Play that not-so-funky music" and set your basename to "midi_ring_tones_on_your_cell_phone" to let link-hoverers and search engines know what they're going to find on that page. We all love control and this is one we know you'll come to rely on day in and day out.
[This is part nineteen in a series called "Our 32 Favorite Features of Movable Type 3.2".]
Arvind Satyanarayan has published another great tutorial over at Movalog, Publishing Custom Pages with Movable Type. It's a quick look at how to create standalone pages to complement the content you're publishing on your blog. This has long been an area of Movable Type's great power and potential (we use it all over the sixapart.com site) so it's good to see a tutorial for getting started with the technique.
We've seen a huge increase in the number of companies using blogs within their organization, on an intranet or extranet to help their employees connect and communicate about projects. And one of the first requirements of project blogging is to know that the communications around the blog will be secure by default.
For application-level security, we of course recommend following best practices for your server environment and firewall. But what about TrackBack, which is designed for sharing information about links? In Movable Type 3.2, we've made sure you have total control over who you're sending TrackBacks to by introducing outbound TrackBack control.
With this new set of options, available as part of the new system overview section of the application, a system administrator can choose where TrackBacks are sent.
Want to make sure that sites outside your company don't know what you're linking to? You can safely limit TrackBacks to just your installation. If you're interested in letting other sites know about TrackBacks you've sent, you can even provide a list of domains that are acceptable for sending. And we've finally made it easy to send TrackBacks between blogs on a single installation of Movable Type, so you can constrain TrackBacks to just your own sites just by selecting that option.
And all these new controls for TrackBack are enabled on sites that have auto-discovery enabled, as well. This means that you can even set Movable Type to automatically ping sites that are TrackBack enabled, but the application will still honor the system settings you've defined.
[This is part eighteen in a series called "Our 32 Favorite Features of Movable Type 3.2".]
The team behind Comedy Central's lineup of mirth-inducing television has launched CC Insider, a new TypePad-powered blog that gives a look behind the scenes at the shows in their lineup, live appearances by comedians, and events in the comedy world at large.
It's a smart distillation of both the network's shows and the funny items of interest to their audience.
PC Magazine's Bill Machrone has published a great new column entitled I Blog/I Do Not Blog. In it, Bill examines how blog tools in general, and Movable Type in particular, can function as extremely powerful and flexible content management systems, without all the expense and overhead of traditional CMS applications. A good overview of the potential:
If you have a newsletter, a club or organization site, or an online publication for a niche audience, though, blog software is just about perfect. That's what I needed for a site I wanted to build: something with built-in reader commentary, RSS syndication, template-based article entry, and the ability to make style changes without having to find and replace across every HTML page.
It's a great introduction for the PC Magazine audience to the potential of blog tools, and we'd love to see more discussion of the future of the creative things that can be done using Movable Type as a starting point.
July's been another busy month at Six Apart, and though we're told it's summer vacation season, we've been hard at work.
Although we had some issues with TypePad after the July 4th weekend, we were excited to launch a number of powerful new features, including 25 new themes, more storage and bandwidth, Instant Messaging presence, enhanced community management, and comment management directly from your inbox.
We're glad to see the warm reception for these new features, and we wanted to let you know that you can always go to our status weblog to check on TypePad's performance. And stay tuned in the next few days, as even more requested features are on the way and we'll be working to make sure TypePad performance is up to your expectations.
Meanwhile, the Movable Type team has been working in overdrive. The Movable Type 3.2 Beta shipped to a great reception over on the Beta Blog and we want to send out a heartfelt thank you to all our incredible beta testers for the extremely detailed and attentive bug reports you've been filing. We're happy to see a number of 3.2 enabled plugins are on the way, as well as exciting new plugins that are already available, such as BigPAPI.
TypeKey had some long-awaited improvements as well. The service now remembers your login, making it easier to comment on blogs using TypeKey authentication. You may have also noticed that we also unveiled a spiffy new logo that we think does a better job of showing what TypeKey is all about.
Over at LiveJournal, the team reports that new LiveJournal merchandise is on the way -- exciting news for LiveJournal community members who've been eagerly awaiting the restock of cool schwag. There's also a survey that's just launched as part of the new feedback community, a few new styles and updates to the very popular new tag feature that was launched last month.
We're also really excited to note that the new "Bloggish" style on LiveJournal marks the debut of a set of XHTML and CSS templates that can let you make a single theme that works across any of our platforms. We'll be talking more about this in the future, but we think being able to share designs between Movable Type, TypePad and LiveJournal will really help a lot of creative blog design reach its widest potential audience.
Finally, as always, we're looking for talented people to join our team. We have just posted a number of new jobs, so check out our job listings and if you (or your friends) are a good fit, we'd love to hear from you.
If you're going to be in Portland for the O'Reilly Open Source Convention this week, be sure to check out the session on LiveJournal's backend that Brad Fitzpatrick will be presenting as part of the database track.
A number of members of our LiveJournal development team will also be lurking around, particularly near the database and scalability conversations, as well as in sessions related to identity where OpenID might be relevant.
Our CTO and co-founder Ben Trott's just published a brief but interesting look at some of the considerations that have gone into choosing an object-relational mapper to power the database behind our platforms.
There's some insights into what will be changing in the future on TypePad's back-end, along with some details of what Movable Type's strengths are in this area. If you're into a little bit more of the technical theory behind the tools you use every day, it should be an interesting read.