Last month we told you of an effort to improve the performance of Movable Type that involved the entire community. The response has been amazing. We asked for people to contribute data collected by Movable Type's new performance monitoring framework. What we got were log files, entire data sets and even code contributions from numerous members of our open source developer community. The results of this work and collaboration with the community culminates today in the first public beta of Movable Type Open Source 4.15.
But a faster version of Movable Type is not all you have to look forward to. The community has also contributed new features to the product, and with their help and valuable feedback we have added a number of other new features as well.
Arvind was kind enough to donate to MTOS one of Movable Type's more popular plugins: Simply Threaded. With this donation Movable Type will allow commenters to reply directly to one another and for designers to display nested and threaded comment listings on their blog.
Simpler, Easier Default Templates
One thing we have heard loud and clear is that our default templates, while powerful and flexible were too difficult for new users to wrap their heads around. So through interviews with our user community, through a series of focus groups with designers, we have completely rewritten our default templates with an eye to make it easy for people to get up and running quickly using Movable Type.
Beau Smith, the lead behind the architecture of these templates has also been working on documentation to help designers make the most of Movable Type.
Updated Navigation and Menus
When we approached the issue of performance we didn't just look at the backend. We also called into question aspects of the front end that we felt didn't make our users as efficient as they could be in completing certain tasks. To help achieve this we made a number of important changes to our navigation, including an vastly improved Preferences Menu, as well as the addition of a Tools menu (available in Beta 2).
New Template and Widget Listing Screens
If you are a designer, then we are especially interested in hearing how you like the new template listing screen. With these changes we hope to achieve some very basic goals for people who live in this part of the application:
- Further unify widgets and widget sets, or "sidebars" into a single screen to make sidebar management easier and more intuitive.
- Redesign the template listing screen to show you all of your templates, archives, archive mappings and modules in one place.
Hitting the save button on a template should never be a source of anxiety for anyone, but it can be if there is any doubt as to what your site will look like once the template has been saved. Therefore we have added the ability for you to preview changes you make to your templates before you save them.
Faster, More Powerful Search -- and now with Pagination!
Aside from Movable Type's search feature getting a major overhaul, which in some tests has shown performance increases upwards of two orders of magnitude, we have also made the following enhancements:
- full text search support - Movable Type now properly leverages features native to the database itself to surface more relevant results.
- paginated search - search is one of the key ways people monetize their blog and pagination will go a long way to help increase search related revenue.
Even More Publishing Control
Aside from the raw performance improvements you get just by upgrading to MT 4.15, we also wanted to give users a greater ability to fine tune the performance of their site:
- Server Side Includes - use PHP, JSP, SHTML or ASP to process and include template modules.
- Template Module Caching - cache template modules to reduce database load, and speed up publishing times.
- New Template Publishing Options - now every index template and archive mapping can be configured independently in regards to how that file should be published. Instruct Movable Type for example to publish monthly archives and feeds asynchronously, and everything else synchronously.
- Publishing Profiles - select from a number of different publishing options, like publish everything dynamically, or everything asynchronously, or even build your own.
Update: And if you experience any problems with the beta or need help from the community, feel free to use the 4.15 Beta Forums as well!