So Six Apart have finally announced Movable Type 3. I have to confess that, from what I have read, I will be disappointed. It doesn’t appear to be loaded with a great deal of new features which is sad. I hope this is the foundation for some new development. To be honest, if there was some way of handling photo galleries from within the tool then I think I would be very happy. I will, however, not pass further judgment on it until I have installed it and I am going to wait until it is released properly (rather than the developer’s edition) before I install. In that way I hope some of the plug-ins that I would like to install will have been tested and then I can upgrade and add functionality all at once.
The views of other users also saddens me. There has been a long history of collaboration online. I remember when I first joined the connected world having some basic legal questions answered via Usenet. How great it seemed back then. In the end, of course, nobody was going to dish out free legal advice forever and proper paid-for advice will always have a place. In the end, good things will – in the main – be worth paying for.
I believe the good folks of Six Apart deserve some recognition for the work they have put into building a publishing tool that’s as easy to use as Movable Type. It was never Open Source software. It’s always been the work of Ben and Mena (and now Six Apart). I find it sad that the large number of negative comments does not reflect the fact that continued development of such a fantastic tool requires a full-time commitment from people and, somehow, these people have to be paid for. Even Mozilla has a staff!
I honestly believe that we can be sad at the lack of additional, out-of-the-box functionality but we should not be sad that Six Apart is turning into a business that needs finances to support it. Of course, our expectations as users will now change too. Six Apart are really going to have to show that this is a professional product backed up by proper support. Once, user’s would forgive the lack of customer service (we weren’t paying anything) but no longer. And in my experience it is the mishandling of customer service/support that always lets people down.
Movable Type must continue to lead and if it is to keep my trust. I will pay for this version and I hope my commitment to the product is rewarded. If, in the future, Movable Type does not live up to user’s expectations (brought on by the way it was streets ahead of other systems at first) then the company suffer. Yes, as Jason Kottke notes, the pricing structure is wrong at the moment – but that’s no reason to leave. Yes, there are alternatives which really are free (as Mark Pilgrim notes and goes on to prove by – apparently – switching seamlessly) but for now I am sticking with Movable Type because they haven’t let me down. They’ve shown that they have addressed the need to turn it into a product that needs people to develop and support.
But please, sort out the pricing structure.