Dear Movable Type Customers,
You may have read reports that the website PBS.org was hacked and some sources claimed that a previously undiscovered security flaw in Movable Type 4 was to blame.
Six Apart and our affiliates have been working closely with the Public Broadcasting System to learn how the hack was accomplished. We are continuously reviewing our code base to protect our customers from any vulnerabilities in Movable Type.
Today, Six Apart released the first Movable Type update since the PBS hacking case. Please see the release note on movabletype.com for details. All Movable Type customers get benefits from this release, so we strongly recommend that you apply this release as soon as possible.
Six Apart is committed to continuing to eliminate bugs, especially when such bugs potentially expose our customers to malicious attacks.
In the past years, Six Apart has made efforts to provide security fixes promptly for major releases of Movable Type, because we understand that our customers are not always ready to migrate to the latest version of our software. That's why we have released updates for the Movable Type 4.3, 5.0, and 5.1 branches today.
This has always been an important policy at Six Apart, and will continue to be our commitment to our user community.
President & CEO
Those of you who've followed us over the years have seen us through a number of changes as Six Apart, and the industry we helped to create, has evolved.
What started with a simple goal to make creating and publishing content for the web easy, became a social publishing platform that today powers some of the biggest brands on the web, as well as passionate individuals—those of us who simply want to express ourselves, share our expertise or insights, and reach an audience of like-minded others.
Six Apart helped empower people and companies to publish. And they did. With amazing content they created valuable publishing properties with massive and engaged audiences—the influential audiences that advertisers want to reach. Over the past several years we have grown another side of our business, Six Apart Media, which has focused on helping publishers turn their passions into businesses and on helping marketers authentically engage these publishers and their audiences.
Today Six Apart announced its intention to join forces with VideoEgg to form a modern media company called SAY Media. The new entity will combine the engagement platform and insights of VideoEgg with our social publishing platform, conversational marketing tools, and robust network of publishers.
SAY Media will be a force—powering more efficient, useful and social advertising programs that tie rich and engaging advertising experiences to online communities with meaningful and measurable results. Good for publishers. Good for advertisers.
We believe SAY Media will become one of the world's most significant modern media companies, while still embracing the same goals we've always had at Six Apart—to empower people to create great content and make money doing it. Soon we'll have the capabilities to do it that much better. When you know more, I think you'll be as excited as we are. Get a glimpse of our future at www.saymedia.com.
Chairman & CEO
* Create a 45x45 PNG. * Name it "apple-touch-icon.png" * Throw it in the root folder of your website. (Not the root of your server, the root of your web documents.)Dan then goes into more details on how to use a
linktag for more customization, as well as details about the optimal image sizes to use. There's also a hat tip to ProNet member Neil Epstein, tech director for the formidable MT-powered publishing efforts at Gothamist, for chipping in with more info on how to get your webclip icons perfected.
As we’ve mentioned on the Movable Type news blog, today Boing Boing, the immensely popular “Directory of Wonderful Things”, relaunched on the Movable Type 4.0 platform. There were a lot of people and organizations involved in the effort, but one of the key parts of the technology team was Apperceptive, the New York-based consulting company that has become one of the most successful members of the Six Apart Professional Network.
We asked Apperceptive’s team a few questions about their work on the Boing Boing relaunch, and got some great answers from Apperceptive principal David Jacobs and developers David Raynes and Mike Kania.
Six Apart: Okay, first: Who is Apperceptive? How long has the company been around?
David Jacobs: We were founded last year by myself and John Emerson. We were building a lot of blogs, and having fun, and we wanted to do more. Now we’re 10 people (and hiring!). Mike Kania was employee number 1.
Six Apart: Wow — you’re growing really fast! And all the work you do is around blogs and social media?
David Jacobs: Yes, almost exclusively. About a quarter of our work is pure design, but always, always towards media or blog projects. And of the remaining work, another third is customizing or patching custom CMSes for folks. The remaining half is blog plugins, templates and support.
Six Apart: That’s great. So, I know David and David have been fairly prominent in the Movable Type community for years, and all of you have been active in social media for a long time. But how did you get introduced to a project like working on Boing Boing?
David Jacobs: We have actually been talking to Boing Boing over a period of 5 months or so. They were on a very old version of MT, so the first project we did for them was upgrading their current database (which has tens of thousands of entries) onto the MT4 public beta and the MT 3.x version, which was the latest at the time. They used those installs to test out the tools and decide what direction they wanted to take the site.
Six Apart: And they had in mind the idea of expanding to include comments, and changing the visual design?
David Jacobs: We actually weren’t sure what they had in mind; our goal was to present the platform at its best, and then answer any questions they had about what was and wasn’t possible. Because we’ve been so nose to the grindstone with some of the deep details of the project, the launch was really the first chance I had to appreciate the work that FM Pub [Federated Media] and the Happy Mutant team did to orchestrate all of these pieces - from the design, the logo, the hosting, the templates and the custom plugins.
Six Apart: Okay, so once you were on board, what were everyone’s roles on your team?
David Raynes: Oddly enough, DJ had me writing plugins. :) One powers the “Don’t Miss” section on the bottom of the site.
Six Apart: Nice — how does “Don’t Miss” work?
David Jacobs: The “Don’t Miss” plugin allows Boing Boing (and BB Gadget) editors to pull out Entries and Comments that they want to stick on the front page. It was intended as a service for their casual readers - if you can’t keep up with everything on the site, here are three links for you to look at. A lot of the plugin work was behind the scenes, and we’re working on some plugins to make their moderation and publishing workflow very smooth.
David Raynes: Very much plugin zen (code-wise), in my opinion.
Six Apart: “Plugin zen” ?
David Raynes: Very simple. Not much actual code in there. It does what it does very well and nothing more. I could probably trim it down some more, but that can come later. The backend could easily be extended to include trackbacks and, really, any other object in MT (e.g., assets).
David Jacobs: What I think was cool about that process was that I took an existing (MTE) plugin we had, adapted it to MT4, edited the schema, and then handed it off to you. Then you cut the code in half and made it MORE useful, which I appreciated. Erasing code is sometimes as powerful as writing code (like any good writing).
Six Apart: What’s it been like building plugins on MT4’s new APIs?
David Raynes: Now that I’m starting to wrap my head around it, I’m having a blast.
Six Apart: There were some pretty specific requirements for enabling commenting on Boing Boing, what were those like?
David Jacobs: Running the risk of kissing up to our clients, I do want to note that it’s a great joy to have clients that inspire you to work harder and that have such a demanding community. Teresa Nielsen Hayden is a doing some great thinking around how healthy communities should grow, the editorial team has a very rich and uncompromising view of how the site should work, and the FM Pub tech team was fantastic. We’ve had to support a lot of in-house tech teams on this platform, and I don’t think it’s a stretch that these guys took to it more than anyone else has (of course they had some experience) and really pushed the platform in new ways. And to run the risk of talking ourselves out of work, I’m pretty sure they could have done this without us.
Teresa had 20+ items that she came up with from her experience managing large communities and from her conversation with the BB editors about their goals. It was a very detailed spec - and luckily a lot of it was native in MT4. Some of the things we take for granted (permalink to comments, the ability to edit comments, and so on) are seen as top shelf features in other systems.
I’m not sure how much we’re allowed to share, but it was a mix of ideas you’d expect and ideas you wouldn’t. We’ve almost met the whole list - and you’ll see some of the results in the BB comment threads very soon.
Six Apart: Very cool. Is it intimidating working on a high-profile site like Boing Boing, or are you used to it?
David Raynes: Just the opposite for me at least. It was exciting rather than intimidating.
David Jacobs: It’s a little nerve wracking, but it’s very exciting when it launches. It gets back to the expectations of the client and the community.
Six Apart: What’s it been like working in MT4 versus your past work on MT, or on other platforms? How has it been participating in the Professional Network and working with Six Apart?
David Jacobs: Most of our contact was with FM Pub’s team, and they did a fantastic job of measuring out the different constituencies and shielding us - keeping us focused on the work. I can’t say enough good things about those guys. :)
David Raynes: For MT4 vs prior MTs, I have to say it’s been invigorating and refreshing. Not that prior MTs were bad or stale or anything like that, but the injection of new toys to play with and reenergizing of the development community has been very motivating.
I’m once again tempted to try and keep up with Arvind. :) I think I now spend more of my free time writing plugins than I did when I wasn’t writing them for a living.
David Jacobs: Well, Mike, you built some alt-tmpl [alternate templates for MT’s user interface], and having the site being branded as Boing Boing from end to end is important.
Mike Kania: This is true, I customized some of the comment / templates to adapt them for the Boing Boing look & feel. Which was REALLY easy to do, I must say. It’s nice to be able to quickly modify some templates, drop them in
alt-tmpl, and have a whole new look while still using the MT functionality.
Six Apart: Well, this work is really impressive, and David we’re thrilled to see your new plugins for displaying statistics on the MT4 dashboard show up in the Movable Type Plugin Directory. Thanks for your time.
Thanks to the whole crew at Apperceptive for taking a moment to speak with us, and we’ll be keeping an eye out as their newest projects get off the ground.
Our friends over at FeedBurner, who
sold out to joined the team at Google recently have just announced that pro-level stats and custom domains are now free. Two of their best paid features, Stats PRO and MyBrand, which lets you use your own domain name in the address for your feeds, no longer require payment.
Of course, this is a perfect fit for combining with your existing blogs. If, like FeedBurner's own blog, your site is powered by Movable Type, then you can just grab the MT-FeedBurner plugin and it'll do all the heavy lifting.
If you're on TypePad, you're in luck, too -- TypePad's got some exclusive features for integrating your statistics and reporting between your TypePad blog and your FeedBurner account. TypePad's domain mapping feature is a great match for MyBrand -- you can make sure everything on your site is all under your own domain name.
A few weeks ago, many of us on the Movable Type team got to meet with many of our most prominent members of the ProNet community, as well as a number of Movable Type users. The occasion was a two-day event, starting first with a Hackathon for MT plugin developers and geeks, followed by a more structured full-day Executive Summit, where the community discussed everything from best practices for a business blog to large-scale architecture issues to editorial concerns and even the future of the Movable Type platform.
For those of us at Six Apart, the events in New York City were exciting and energizing: Looking at some of the community writeups of the hackathon gives a great feel for the day; There were tons of plugins and little hacks created, but more importantly, there was the chance for many members of the community to meet each other face-to-face. (For some of us, we were putting faces to names we’d seen online for six or seven years!)
Plus, Dan brought cookies!
The Executive Summit the next day featured a full day’s worth of presentations, starting with Jay Allen outlining “how to build a plugin” first thing in the morning and lasting until Michael Sippey’s look at the enormous amount of energy and effort being put into the next major update to the Movable Type platform. In between, we heard lessons from experts like Adam Tinworth of RBI, David Jacobs of Apperceptive, and Matt Jaeger of Advance Internet. Though the videos are a bit rough, Maarten Schenk on our team, whom you might also know from Blogologie, has posted some low-res recordings of many of the day’s presentations.
We’re extremely grateful to all of you who took the time to travel to the events, from all around the country and even from around the world. There’s simply nothing as inspiring as seeing what amazing and unexpected things our community can create with the tools that we help build, and it’s a great motivator for the significant milestones we’re achieving with Movable Type in the next few weeks and months.
This coming Thursday, March 8 between 9am and 6pm in our San Francisco offices we will be conducting usability studies to help shape the future direction of the Movable Type product. If you are interested in participating in this usability study, simply fill out our questionnaire and selected participants will be notified as soon as possible. Selected participants will also be compensated with a $75 Amazon gift certificate, and ProNet members will be able to hob-nob with the Movable Type development team and get some cool Six Apart schwag.
Again, if you are interested, please complete the questionnaire and we will get back to you. No phone calls please.
If you’re a member of the Six Apart Professional Network, or just someone who’s interested in the work we’re doing to help support our community of developers, designers, consultants, and experts, you might be interested in the latest way we’ve been connecting with our community.
Every other week, we hold a group conference call that’s an open conversation with our team, as well as with some of the most talented and successful members of our Professional Network community. You get direct access to the teams that build platforms like Movable Type and Movable Type Enterprise, and to previews of the resources and roadmap we’ll be offering in the future. In exchange, you get the ability to bend our ear and tell us what you’d really like to see in our products or for the community, or what your clients are demanding.
We’ve done a number of these calls, and will be continuing to do them regularly, but as this week’s is about to start, we wanted to let the larger community know about this new way to reach out, and we’ll be offering more information in advance of our next call.
The call today begins at 10am PST/1pm EST, and you can dial in to +1 712-432-3000 or +1 218-486-1300 with Bridge Number: 353177. Sorry, we don’t yet have international call-in numbers, but are working on them in the future. The calls are recorded and posted as MP3s within a few days after they take place.
This week’s agenda:
- Review the New Plugin Directory
- Review the New ProNet Member Directory
- Discuss the upcoming NYC event
- Discuss the “Opening up ProNet” thread
Hope to have you join us today and in the future!
One of the greatest strengths of Movable Type is its extensibility. It has an extensive plugin directory with hundreds of plugins that are in use by thousands and thousands of people. But which ones get installed and then used?
We are interested in the answer not just because we want to know what plugins are popular, but because as we begin planning the next major release of Movable Type, code named Athena, we believe the answer to this question provides incredible insight into how we can best improve the core product. If a plugin is so widely used by the community, and so many people recommend installing it, then why not just bundle it with the core platform?
To help us better understand what plugins are in wide use by our developer and user communities, we devised a quick and simple survey to help answer that question. In that survey we asked three simple questions:
- What plugins do you have installed?
- What plugins do you think should be folded into the core to Movable Type?
- If you were only allowed to install one plugin, which one would it be?
The results were both interesting and surprising...