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Why we made Movable Type 4.0

By Anil Dash
Posted August 14, 2007.

When our co-founders Ben & Mena Trott first launched Movable Type almost six years ago, their words were pretty modest:

"We've never claimed to be the best. We've never presented Movable Type as the program that will revolutionize weblogging. We're just developing a system with a lot of the features that we've heard users are looking for. Luckily, we've received a lot of good word of mouth."

But while the first description of the tool was fairly modest, what's been astounding is the things people have done with the tool. And perhaps the biggest surprise to all of us who've worked on Movable Type over the years isn't that people have done amazing things with MT -- we always knew that potential was there. What we never could have guessed, what we didn't even know to hope for, was the impact that the blogs created by the Movable Type community would have on the world.

So today, almost six years later, we have that history in mind as we launch Movable Type 4. We'll naturally be talking about new features and the cool things you can do with the platform. (The site is a great place for getting the basic facts.) But this is, the home for our community, and we want to share the motivation behind the work that all of us in the MT community, both inside and outside Six Apart, do.

movable type website 2001

It's hard to remember what the web was like when Movable Type was first released in 2001. Google wasn't yet the most popular search engine, and there were no such things as AdSense or AdWords. There were no iPods and no Windows XP. No web browsers like Firefox or Safari, and CSS and RSS were both fairly obscure technologies. There was certainly no Web 2.0, which means no great innovations like Flickr or YouTube.

But back then, a lot of us who care about this stuff were a little less cynical, a little more idealistic. We think there's an opportunity to be as wide-eyed and optimistic again, even though we know very well that some corners of the blogosphere can be tough on that kind of thing.

The transformation of the web in the past half-decade didn't turn out to be about technology; it's been a story of people transforming society, culture, politics, and media through the communications power of tools like blogs. So as we take the wraps off of our biggest release ever, we'll be turning the spotlight on you, the Movable Type community. The next few days and weeks will, yes, talk about features and functionality. But the stories we'll be highlighting will also be showing how transformative blogging can be.

It's easy to forget how powerful these tools are if you're already familiar with them. But most people still don't know, and it's going take all of us working together to teach people about the potential of blogs. We hope you'll help us tell the story, not just of Movable Type, but as a reminder to everyone who doesn't yet know the powerful connections that can be made through blogging.

Thanks to all of you who've made Movable Type and Six Apart a success over the years. We hope you appreciate Movable Type 4 in the spirit it was created: As a platform for sharing your great ideas with the world.


15 Comments on August 15, 2007, 12:38 a.m. Reply

Hah it’s fantastic to see that screenshot of in the early days. What would be even more fantastic is a screenshot gallery of MT 0.1 -> 4.0


Lucian on August 15, 2007, 2:27 a.m. Reply

Congrats to the 6A team on the final product. It looks and feels amazing. My $20 donation to you guys in the early days has proven to be the best return on investment ever.



Viking KARWUR on August 15, 2007, 3:51 a.m. Reply

Congratulations 4 “MT 4” Teams…

Success for you all…

Benjamin Trott

Benjamin Trott on August 15, 2007, 3:57 a.m. Reply

Congrats on 4.0! I’m looking forward to learning the new stuff.

Takeshi Nick Osanai

Takeshi Nick Osanai on August 15, 2007, 5:46 a.m. Reply

Hi Anil.

Congrats to everyone on releasing your latest version. In regard to this specific post though, I’d like to note that you haven’t really answered the question in your title. You’ve talked about the past and how the web has changed, but all your references are to the original Movable Type and the circumstances of its release. You could be talking about releasing Movable Type 2, or even 3.

Why did you make Movable Type 4.0?

Paul Lindner

Paul Lindner on August 15, 2007, 6:54 a.m. Reply

Congratulations all around!

4.0 also appears to be a mirror image of 3.0, shifts back to the open source roots, de-emphasis on the commercial side, and hopefully a more relaxed, less rushed release.

Oh, and Jay, I think the answer for “Why did we Make Movable Type” is obvious. It’s a statement, not a question. Six Apart is makes Movable Type for us, our community.


demonsurfer on August 15, 2007, 7:43 a.m. Reply

Gratz! Been with MT almost right from the grass roots, and imagine I always will be a staunch supporter. Thanks for being. Cheers.

carl3 on August 15, 2007, 8:47 a.m. Reply

Just installed MT4 final on my test server, it looks and runs great. Will do a permanent install soon.


John Tomlinson - Synergos on August 15, 2007, 9:14 a.m. Reply

I see in the requirements that “Movable Type supports Perl version 5.8.1 or above. Movable Type will run on any platform that supports Perl version 5.6.1 or later, but only Perl version 5.8.1 or above are officially supported by Six Apart.”

What does this mean? The server my site is on has Perl 5.8.0. Will it be stable and work correctly?

Batsirai Chada

Batsirai Chada on August 15, 2007, 9:56 a.m. Reply

Fantastic - congrats on the Final release… when can we start on MT5. jokes… it would be cool to see a list of sites using MT is non-blog ways… you mention the incredible ways people have used MT - perhaps a gallery of some sort for great MT implementations would help people see the options & possibilities of MT…

Beau Smith

Beau Smith on August 15, 2007, 10:37 a.m. Reply

Re: screen shot - Are are “Automatic Backups” and “FTP files to remote host” scheduled for the next release? =P

@Batsirai Chada - An MT gallery sounds like a great idea for the sites that are public, however many implementations are internal at various companies. We’re doing case studies for as many of these as we can get access to. Some agencies purchasing MT are very secretive about what they are using it for. =)


uyet on August 15, 2007, 11:17 a.m. Reply

Finally… So many thanks for the team, for your great tireless efforts on MT4.0… Congratz!!

Rostislav Siryk on August 15, 2007, 4:36 p.m. Reply

I’m the old fan of MT from the 2002 and will kep my blogging with it!

MovableType forewer!

Jason on August 15, 2007, 5:58 p.m. Reply

Thanks for the best blogging tool ever. MT has helped bring my site more traffic than I ever could have imagined and the numbers keep getting better every month. I cannot wait until MT 4 gets installed on my server.

Patrick on August 15, 2007, 9:57 p.m. Reply

Can I just get an official confirmation that MT 4 is no longer in beta status? So this means all bugs reported have been corrected, yes?

I downloaded and installed the first beta version and wasn’t too happy with what I saw. Not too sure yet if I feel comfortable making the upgrade when 3.* has served me well. Although, syntax highlighting(C/C++/Java ?) in itself is a tempting reason to upgrade, from a developer viewpoint.