We've always tried to keep a sense of humor about ourselves at Six Apart, and not take our work or ourselves too seriously. Last week, when we released the widely-acclaimed Movable Type Pro, we included a short video that explained some of the exciting ideas behind MT Pro. We weren't exactly trying to show the full list of the new features in the video, but we definitely set ourselves up on this one — these things always tend to focus more on telling a story than on getting into technical details.
We focus on the story for a simple reason: It's not about features, it's about the future. Honestly, we assume that that everyone else on the web will respond by copying great ideas, as they usually do. Hell, we want them to, so that more people can benefit from open communities on the web.
Movable Type's had really great social networking features for more than a year, and MT Pro puts them in everyone's hands. So we're glad to see our friends at Automattic follow our lead by planning to provide some of these abilities for WordPress in a collection of plugins that you should be able to assemble around Christmastime or so. Until then, they've created a parody of our video.
We think that's a pretty funny way to respond, too! So we thought we'd share their parody of our video:
Of course, the joke in the video is that MT Pro's big feature is comments. LOL! So true, so true, we totally have comments! And lots more. You can view our original video, but one great thing the parody does is promote an MT Pro feature that we'd omitted — you can definitely get full social networking features on your own site, without having your site look like another Facebook or MySpace clone. (We'll even help you design it.)
Because maybe it's a little idealistic, but we think communities on
the web can be freed from having to live within the constraints of
someone else's social network where they have no control. It's just like how blogging freed people from having to use complicated publishing systems that they couldn't control. Or freed all of us from only consuming media that was produced by giant corporations, instead of by the friends, family or peers we know and respect. Blogs are good at breaking down barriers.
We think it's time for blogging to evolve and assume that successful communities will consist of dozens or even thousands of blogs, forums, and individuals, all connecting together in an open way. And we don't just talk about it: We invent what needs to be created, release it to as many people as possible, and try to do the best job we can of telling people the story of how the web is going to look in the future.
MT is great at all kinds of other unique abilities, of course, like managing an unlimited number of blogs and aggregating content across them. Or managing forums. Letting your members and commenters create their own profiles and follow each other. Rating and recommending content. Providing free and open source TypePad AntiSpam for blocking junk comments, instead of a proprietary centralized service from Automattic. Support for cutting-edge tech like OpenID 2.0 and OAuth. Exclusive new themes like Mid-Century. Our long-held reputation for publishing highly scalable, "Digg-proof" pages. And comments! Don't forget comments.
[Note: To be fair, it is possible to remedy some of the missing features in WordPress if you have enough free time to find the appropriate plugins. However, prominent independent security researchers do warn, "[T]he abysmal security practices of WordPress plugin developers places the entire Internet at risk". That's on top of WordPress being one of top ten least secure applications around, and the Department of Homeland Security's data showing WordPress having twelve times as many reported security vulnerabilities as Movable Type. Quick, time for more parody videos!]
But all of the features in Movable Type Pro are in service of something bigger. The great technology rests on top of world-class support, an incredibly talented professional services group, and a media services team that will help your site and your community succeed. Our vision at Six Apart is really about finding ways to help you achieve your goals while making the whole web better. The great part is, our community is innovative enough that they can take our ideas and use them as inspiration to build many of the most amazing and innovative sites on the web.
So thanks again to the team at Automattic for the laugh, and most of all for spending your time on making videos. In all seriousness, we think it is a fantastic way to compare your work to Movable Type Pro and to what we're trying to accomplish at Six Apart.
If you've been following Six Apart for any time at all, you can tell that this is a company founded by bloggers, for bloggers. From inventing a lot of the core technologies of blogging to helping reinvent the medium with cool new announcements, we've always built a lot of great tools and tech.
But if you've been paying attention this year,you've seen the vision for our company and our community going far beyond just the technology platforms and into some important new initiatives like services and media.
Whether it's advertising services or antispam technology, all of this work is based on a few simple ideas:
- We help all bloggers, regardless of which technology platforms you use.
- We're trying to help you succeed, no matter how you define that -- by growing your audience, your influence or just your bottom line.
- We strive to be open in all that we do, to help tell the rest of the world why blogs are a powerful new medium that matters.
With those principles in mind, that brings us to one of our most exciting new announcements of what's already been a milestone year: Blogs.com, the place to find the best in blogs.
Blogs.com combines a few simple, fundamental ideas in a new way that we think harkens back to some of the best parts of the early days of the web. For example, though they get beat up a lot these days, Yahoo was really exciting back when the web was young. There was just something exciting about a human-edited guide to the web, organized by topic. In a similar way, our expert Blogs.com editorial team is assembling Top Ten lists of blogs by category, to help you discover the best sites that you never knew existed. And we're taking your submissions -- so if you are tired of the same old sites getting attention, we especially want to hear from you.
It's like Celebrity Playlists for Blogs
A more recent example of a great way to discover cool new stuff is the Celebrity Playlists on the iTunes music store.
Some Recent Top Tens
Though sometimes we all read them just to see how inane a celebrity's picks are, or to see if an artist we like shares our tastes, it's impossible to deny that they're often a fascinating way to find new songs. On Blogs.com, celebrity Top Ten lists let some of the best-known bloggers on the web guide us through the sites that influence them, helping dig up some undiscovered gems you might have missed.
Helping you discover the best of blogs also helps fulfill the mission that the team at Rojo had for their popular feed reader back when it launched. Since we acquired Rojo back in 2006, that team has become an integral part of Six Apart,and we've incorporated a lot of what they learned into Blogs.com. As a result,this new site is also going to be the official successor to Rojo.
So, what does it mean to you?
All of this fits into our mission at Six Apart of helping people communicate online, by helping bloggers reach a broader audience. We'll be rapidly expanding Blogs.com over time. The site is built on the powerful new Movable Type Pro platform, of course, so we can rapidly add new social and community features based on your feedback. And our team's hard at work rapidly expanding upon the already-extensive directory of blogs on the site.
Which brings us to the question you must be asking: How do I get my site featured on Blogs.com? It's easy! Just add your site on the simple submission form on the site and we'll add your blog to the list of sites we're considering. And we want to work hard to get the word out about the blogs we feature. There is, of course, a Twitter account for the new site, and you'll want to sign up for the Blogs.com newsletter, and pass the link along to your friends or family who may still be skeptical about blogging. It's a good old-fashioned email newsletter offering highlights from Blogs.com, and great way to find highlights from the entire blogosphere, delivered fresh to your inbox every week.
In all, the launch of Blogs.com marks just another milestone in our mission to introduce the world to the power of blogging. Though we've been best known for making the tools to create blogs, we're just as committed at Six Apart to creating the services that help bloggers succeed. Today, we've built the best way on the web to discover what the blogosphere has to offer. We're already excited about the pleasant surprises that keep popping up on Blogs.com -- and we think you will be, too.
As anyone who saw last week's opening ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics knows, a community of motivated energetic people can create a pretty powerful, even beautiful, demonstration of the power of movable type. Since the milestone release of Movable Type Pro as part of the Movable Type 4.2 launch this week, we've seen a similar outpouring that, while a little less dramatic, has been extremely exciting for the whole Movable Type community.
You can see the results across the blogosphere and all over Twitter (Hello to all the new followers of the Six Apart account on Twitter!), but we've seen some great reviews and reactions from the press as well. Here's just a sampling:
- Darren Rowse of ProBlogger sums it up in Movable Type launch Version 4.2 and Movable Type Pro: "Today's Movable Type Pro launch marks another important step in the evolution of MT as a platform ... More and more bloggers are looking to find ways to integrate social networking within their communities and to this point most are having to settle for marrying two platforms together (one blogging platform and one social networking platform). Movable Type now offer a solution for an all in one package - something that will be very tempting for some bloggers."
- Peter Hagopian of InformationWeek covers the story in Movable Type 4.2 Delivers Speed, Security, And Social Networking: "Movable Type 4.2 was released today with a pile of new features and enhancements that make the payoff well worth the anticipation. ... Building on the solid foundation of its blogging and content management functionality, MT 4.2 adds a substantial new set of functionality in support of social networking. ... Probably the most trumpeted accomplishment of Movable Type 4.2 is the improvement in speed across the board. Page publication speed has been greatly improved, as has end-user-facing search. Movable Type's user community has been clamoring for these improvements for quite some time, and 4.2 really delivers."
- Scott Gilbertson over on Wired's Webmonkey leads with New Movable Type Pro Wants to Turn Your Blog Into a Social Network: "Movable Type Pro allows you turn your blog into a full social network platform, with features like user registration, profiles, ratings, forums, "following" tools, and more. ... The update is packed with features -- see the Six Apart blog post for more -- and the pro version especially looks like a very nice option for sites that want a full community-in-a-box setup."
- Irina Guseva at CMSWire says Six Apart Gets a Little Social with WCM: "It's been almost seven years since Six Apart embarked on its quest to make publishing available to everyone - and it is still going strong. In the new era, however, it is now all about the ability go beyond blogging and into the social publishing. MT 4.2 is here to offer a new level of interaction between bloggers and audience, integration with social networks and a lot more. ... That is certainly a very interesting development in the world of blogging, and we'll continue reporting on it."
- Kenneth Corbin at InternetNews offers Movable Type Moves Toward the Social: "Blogging pioneer Six Apart is souping up its Movable Type publishing platform, with plans to release a new version ... that will include a slate of social networking features such as profiles and discussion forums. ... Six Apart's evolution of its popular publishing platform is very much in keeping with the spirit of adding social features to content sites across the Web"
- Brian Heater's covering the beat at PC World's (Movable Type-powered!) AppScout, which has a brief item entitled Six Apart Intros Movable Type Pro.
- Kristen Nicole at Mashable says Six Apart Provides Social Networking Capabilities with Movable Type Pro: "Now that companies have begun to find more productive ways of interacting with their customers online, Six Apart is capitalizing on this growing necessity with additional social networking tools that can be integrated with the Movable Type blogging platform."
- David Chartier of ars technica offers up Movable Type Pro to meld blogging and social networking: "Six Apart summed today's release with a simple question: 'what are the other things we can do with blogging?' ... Six Apart is certainly gaining a leg on its competition by jumping on the social bandwagon with what sounds to be a very polished and integrated package. ... Movable Type Pro is an appealing all-in-one package for bloggers and businesses looking to ride the social wave."
- Rafe Needleman of CNET's Webware says that Movable Type is becoming a social platorm: "The 4.2 platform gives blog publishers better performance, according to Six Apart. But the really interesting thing about this launch is the new social features in MT Pro. ... Just as blogging is changing publishing, social networking is going to change blogging."
- Eric Eldon of VentureBeat has a post titled Six Apart to launch social networking features for blogs: "[F]or some publications, this is a great way to increase the time people spend on the site -- if you feel a part of a community, you often want to spend more time with that community. ... Now, Six Apart's goal is to create mini social networks for blogs. "
- Andy Merrett on the Blog Herald offers up Movable Type gets social with Pro version, built on MT 4.2: "Blogging and social networking have been happy partners for some time, so it's not surprising that at least one blogging platform is making the most of that alliance in their latest 'pro' version. ... It sounds like a great 'out of the box' solution for those already using, or keen to use, Movable Type, who want to integrate more social tools."
- Sarah Perez at ReadWriteWeb gets it at least halfway right (kidding!) with The Next Social Networks Will Be Powered By WordPress and Movable Type: "Now, the next revolution for publishing is to bring that same ease of creation to the process of building social networks. With Six Apart's recent release of Movable Type 4.2, that revolution has begun. The new release provides DIY tools for building your own social networking platform which includes member profiles, forums, friending capabilities, rating of content, and more."
- Heather Havenstein at Computerworld gets right to the heart of it with Six Apart adds social networking, content management tools to Movable Type.
- RSS Applied chimes in with MovableType adds social to the blog: "Considering blogs were the first link in the social networking chain, it seems only right that it would come back full circle. Most bloggers use social networks extensively to extend the reach of their blog, and it has become the common secondary effort of most bloggers. ... So this move by SixApart is a savvy one that accepts the direction the web has gone, and I'm definitely downloading and installing MovableType Pro on one of my personal blogs to see what it's all about."
- And James Lewin of Podcasting News wraps it all up Movable Type Wants To Help You Build The Next Digg: "Six Apart today announced an update to Movable Type and the launch of Movable Type Pro, a new version that's designed to let you build your own social networking sites. ... The announcement is good news for all bloggers, because it raises the bar for blogging platforms. If you've got a popular podcast, blog or Internet video, you'll soon be able to turn your site into a social network."
Of course, we can continue with the examples forever -- there are already dozens of excited conversations about MT 4.2 and MT Pro all across the web. But perhaps most gratifying is that we're hearing the same level of excitement from the diehard community of Movable Type users as well. That is, after all, why these tools exist.
It's reminiscent of one of the most striking images in those opening ceremonies, the sprouting of the peach blossoms, a symbol of openness. That blossoming was followed by the revelation that all of the intricate, technical movements of the beautiful choreography were pulled off by individual people manipulating a nearly countless number of enormous blocks. While our own small efforts pale in comparison to the grandeur and scale of the opening of the Olympic games, there are still some lessons we can learn from the example. Our work is designed to increase openness, to bring people together, to make something that's designed to be beautiful. And most of all, it's designed to broadcast these things to the world, using the powerful combination of talented individuals and Movable Type.
We can't wait to see what you and your communities do next.
This morning one of our interns finished up one of his hackathon projects (every Wednesday is hack day -- our coders spend all day working on projects that they think are interesting, valuable, or just plain cool. And yes, we are hiring) which is a Perl library to create new hCards and parse existing ones from around the web. The Microformat hCard describes how to represent people, companies, organizations, and places by using a 1:1 representation of vCard properties and values in HTML. When developing this library, we focused on making sure that it worked with hCards in the wild -- including those that might not fully follow the specification -- and making sure that you didn't need to already know how hCard worked to make use of the library.
Some more information from the library's README:
This module handles three existing specifications from Microformats.org:
- hCard -- http://microformats.org/wiki/hcard
- adr -- http://microformats.org/wiki/adr
- geo -- http://microformats.org/wiki/geo
Each of them can be used on their own (hCard uses adr and geo to parse addresses and geolocations, but adr and geo have no dependencies on any others, and hCard doesn't need either unless the corresponding elements appear in an hCard), though the primary appearance of adr and geo "in the wild" is as subparts of hCards.
This module exists both to parse existing hCards from web pages, and to create new hCards so that they can be put onto the Internet.
To use it to parse an existing hCard (or hCards), simply give it the content of the page containing them (there is no need to first eliminate extraneous content, as the module will handle that itself):
my $card = Data::Microformat::hCard->parse($content);
If you would like to get all the hCards on the webpage, simply ask using an array:
my @cards = Data::Microformat::hCard->parse($content);
The module respects nested hCards using the parsing rules defined in the spec, so if one hCard contains another, it will return one hCard with the other held in the relevant subpart, rather than two top-level hCards.
To create a new hCard, first create the new object:
my $card = Data::Microformat::hCard->new;
Then use the helper methods to add any data you would like. When you're ready to output the hCard, simply write:
my $output = $card->to_hcard;
And $output will be filled with an hCard representation, using tags exclusively with the relevant class names.
If you would like to have the parser determine the representative hCard for a page, simply pass the page's URL as an additional parameter to the parse or from_tree methods, and the appropriate property will be found if it can be determined.
Check it out on CPAN and let us know what you think.