I started blogging on Movable Type in 2002 -- and began a long love affair with the product that has helped transform the world of blogging, and the world blogging touches. I remember that sense of both freedom and control that I felt when I realized how easy online publishing could really be for an individual. When I came to Six Apart in 2006 I had the privilege of being put in charge of the Movable Type group. And now as CEO, I get to continue that work, which makes it even more important to explain not just where we've been, but where we're going.
A Re-Commitment to Movable Type
Despite the continued growth of the Movable Type platform, the hard work of the brilliant people on the MT team, and the dedicated community of MT bloggers and developers, when I joined the company MT was confronting a host of challenges from within and without Six Apart. From within, new projects, such as TypePad and Vox, captured some of the internal attention that MT once had, new OSS blog platforms such as WordPress had been gaining traction in some parts of the blogosphere, and Movable Type, while always a platform suitable for individuals, had been distinguishing itself on the high-end while leaving many with the impression that Six Apart didn't care about the individual blogger. This was never true, but the challenge of making a blogging platform both sufficiently easy to use and powerful is certainly significant. In fact, I don't think any blogging or CMS platform has succeeded in combining the ultimate in ease-of-use with the ultimate in power -- yet.
So, back in 2006, we made some decisions. First and foremost, we were going to compete. MT has brought more to blogging than any platform in history -- it was the first professional grade blogging platform (when it launched) and the first enterprise grade blogging platform (with MT Enterprise) -- but in 2006 it was time to double down or take the chips off the table.
We decided to bet on the future.
Central to this effort is Movable Type 4, a completely re-thought version of the software designed to address the way the web and social media have changed in the past half-decade. We wanted to improve the ease of use, the user interface, the installation process, and the content & community management capabilities. We also greatly enhanced our advanced capabilities, launching an Enterprise Solution, making MT unrivaled in its power for large customers who need to run large numbers of blogs integrated with enterprise systems, and the Community Solution, which we believe makes MT the leader in the emerging "CCMS" space (community content management systems) for which we have seen huge market demand.
And Movable Type has always been about freedom, but this was another fundamental tenet that may have become less clear along the way. Despite the fact that Six Apart has always been a major contributor to open source software, and MT itself is built largely on top of OSS, there was no fully open source version of MT. There was a disconnect between our intentions and the decisions we'd made about promoting and distributing Movable Type, and it was hurting us and the community. MT had relied on its innovations to move it forward -- after all, that's what put us on the map. But conversations about distribution and licensing should never overshadow the more important ideas of openness and innovation.
Six Apart has been, and will continue to be, the most innovative blog company around. In addition to MT taking personal, professional, enterprise, and now community blogging where no platform had taken it before, Six Apart also released TypePad, the first high-end hosted blogging platform and TypePad Business Class, the first business class professional blogging platform. Vox was the first social blogging platform, deeply combining social networking and blogging before anyone else and starting a category that is now growing along with peers like Twitter, Tumblr, Pownce, and more. Six Apart is where TrackBack and OpenID were invented, and we're the stewards of some of the major technologies that power today's biggest Internet sites, such as Memcached (which is used by Facebook, Craigslist, Wikipedia, YouTube, Digg, and many more), Perbal, MogileFS, and DJabberd. We've been involved as founding supporters in initiatives such as the Atom protocol, OAuth, and OpenSocial.
We see all of these projects as part of an effort to make the entire web more open, and to give individuals more control.
What's next for MT
Sometimes we've felt a little like Apple was a few years ago -- inventing insanely great stuff but at times outfoxed on the distribution front. A major component of our strategy to fight back and serve the broader market was MT Open Source, which was released in January. This is a huge milestone for Six Apart and MT, and we believe for blogging itself. We've always been more focused on freedom - empowering our bloggers to do whatever they desire -- than on "free", but they aren't mutually exclusive.
But we aren't stopping there.
As mentioned above, I don't think anyone has successfully created a blogging platform that's both extremely easy and extremely powerful. Some might even say that these objectives are inherently at odds. We disagree. While we made great usability advances in MT4, we realize that there is more for us to do in terms of making it easier to get, install and use MT, and we are making a firm commitment to make MT not only the most powerful platform, but the easiest.
Now let me say some words to the whole blogging community, and not just the Six Apart community. Even if you never have or never will use a Six Apart product or service for your blogging, even if you are the most ardent WordPress supporter, you ought to rejoice in the fact that Six Apart and Movable Type are going to push, push, push the art and science of blogging forward and that we are committed to making blogging powerful and easy. While we have competed, MT and WP have helped each other in a fundamental way -- we by introducing blogging features and capabilities that they have not, and they by making blogging simpler and easier to use where we have not. A healthy competition will help BOTH platforms improve. And the winner is blogging itself, and everyone who blogs. Given the explosive stage of growth and evolution that we're seeing in blogging, we even have the chance to help the whole web benefit. So, even if you don't use our platform, we'll help keep your platform honest.
We thank you for more than six years of support for MT, and we hope you'll join us in continuing the successes we've seen with MT 4.1, MTOS, and the recent release of Action Streams. Just head over to movabletype.org to join the community.