WordPress vs. Movable Type

By Daniel Scocco

As you probably know, WordPress 2.5 is about to be released. It was supposed to be live already, but the development team decided to delay it by one week or so. So far so good, except that the guys from Movable Type, a competing blogging platform, decided to play smart and published a post encouraging WordPress users to switch to their software instead of upgrading. Here is how they started the post:

As you might know, WordPress 2.5 is about to be released, and we wanted to encourage WordPress users to upgrade. To Movable Type.

The truth is, there are lots of good blogging tools out there, and they’re all good at different things. But since upgrading from older versions to WP 2.5 can mean changes to your themes, plugins (“print your plugins list”!), and site, we thought we’d take a minute to explain why it may make sense to make those changes in Movable Type instead. For those people in the blogging community who’ve never taken a look, or who haven’t seen MT in a while, you might just find some surprises.

After reading the post, Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, got a little upset and posted the following message on Twitter:

six apart is getting desperate, and dirty.

In response, Anil Dash, author of the polemic post and vice-president of Six Apart (the company behind Movable Type), posted the following message:

desperation is resorting to name-calling and slander instead of substance – if there’s a factual error, i’m glad to fix it.

Finally, Matt posted a more structured answer to the whole deal on his blog, titled WordPress is Open Source. Here is a quote with the main argument:

WordPress is 100% open source, GPL.

All plugins in the official directory are GPL or compatible, 100% open source.

bbPress is 100% GPL.

WordPress MU is 100% open source, GPL, and if you wanted you could take it and build your own hosted platform like WordPress.com, like edublogs.org has with over 100,000 blogs.

There is more GPL stuff on the way, as well. 🙂

Could you build Typepad or Vox with Movable Type? Probably not, especially since people with more than a few blogs or posts say it grinds to a halt, as Metblogs found before they switched to WordPress.

Automattic (and other people) can provide full support for GPL software, which is the single license everything we support is under. Movable Type has 8 different licenses and the “open source” one doesn’t allow any support. The community around WordPress is amazing and most people find it more than adequate for their support needs.

Movable Type, which is Six Apart’s only Open Source product line now that they’ve dumped Livejournal, doesn’t even have a public bug tracker, even though they announced it going OS over 9 months ago!

I had held off criticizing them after they went OS and before they decided to start an all-out confrontation because that’s not generally what OS projects do to each other.

What to think about all of it? You decide on your own.

Michael Arrington at TechCrunch said that “it’s generally fair game to target your competitors.” I think it depends on how you do that.

Personally, if I was Anil Dash or a member of the Movable Type team, I would focus my energies on improving the product, to the point where the users themselves would love it and want to talk about it deliberately. That is pretty much how WordPress got so popular after all, right?




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63 Responses to “WordPress vs. Movable Type”

  • derixc

    MT is not playing the game fair. I don’t think it will be patronized the same way as WordPress.

  • Dan Schulz

    Yeah, upgrade to MT. And then have to re-write your theme, or pay even more to the developers to have your theme ported over to the MT platform…

    I may not agree with everything Matt says or does, but he is right here – this has “old school corporate thug marketing” written all over it.

  • jodith

    Well, I know that I went with WordPress because a number of people that I know who are considerably less than tech savvy used WordPress without problems and even were able to customize themes themselves with nothing but a little help from the WordPress forums. I figured that if they could do it, I certainly could.

    I’ve been using WordPress for almost 2 years, have been through a couple of blogs and several themes and am quite happy with it.

    Of course, I’ll wait to upgrade to 2.5 until I’m sure all of my plugins and theme are supporting 2.5, but that’s just being a good software consumer.

  • Victor

    I really wanted to like Movable Type 4.0. I installed it and got my website host to enable FastCGI to get it to run faster. I wanted to use it to run multiple websites. In the end, it was too much work to get it integrated to AdSense, Google Analytics, FeedBurner, Google Sitemaps and Reinvigorate Stats, so I threw it away and installed WordPress.

    After 2 months of using WordPress to power 3 websites, I’m totally satisfied and happy with my decision. The WordPress plugins made integrating to everything I wanted so simple. I’m considering ditching Textpattern on another website and moving it to WordPress.

  • nefesco

    I’ve read about the showdown between WP and MT earlier at a silicon valley blog. I think Matt’s points are well justified that WP indeed has the edge over other blogging platforms because of its strong community supporting WP open source platform. It’s something that takes TIME to build on and not by just writing down fat cheques. Clearly MT’s strategy is a little too late – they should’ve tackled WP years ago.

    WP belongs to EVERYONE now, not just a company. We all contribute to its development at some point, like this blog with WP advices and its free themes (thanks to Daniel & co!).

    If MT is really *that* desperate, they should start open sourcing its platform instead, rather than crossing swords with WP. Peace out.

  • Daniel Scocco

    nefesco, good points indeed, and I totally agree.

  • Matt L

    I enjoy the community behind WordPress. I also feel that when I want a plugin or some sort of hack to any of my WP blogs developed, I can easily find tons of developers out there comfortable with WP to assist me.

  • Michal

    Yes, people will recognize by themselves a good product. That is the point to be focused on. But by the way, I am blogging on blogspot.com, what would be for me reasonable argument to change it for WordPress?

  • Jeremy Steele

    They both sound like bickering old ladies.

    That said, static-file based blog FTW 😛

  • Anil

    I should point out — my job is to explain the benefits of our platforms, and that’s what I was doing. Our development team is hard at work on even more unique features for MT, like the Design Assistant and Action Streams and other new features. Our intent in explaining the benefits of what we do was to encourage competition and highlight the things we do well, as every company in every competitive industry has ever done, and to be honest, I’m surprised that it’s become such a contentious and personal discussion. I would encourage everybody to try these two platforms and judge for yourselves — they’re free and open source, so it’s easy to do.

  • jim

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  • mike

    I don’t think this is desperate so much as smart marketing. If switching form 2.3 to 2.5 is as big a deal as it’s going to seem to be (especially since the development timeline skipped a major version), MT would be wrong _not_ to take the opportunity to say, “upgrading may be a lot of work, why not take the opportunity to switch platforms to something that you may like better?”

    Then again, I use Blogger, so what do I know?

  • Shanx

    That someone from MT has to resort to a low blow tells tales about what is happening to that platform. It’s archaic.

    After evangelizing the noble cause of the freedom of communication by the masses and the seminal social change inherent in blogging, Six Apart seems stuck in the middle of nowhere.

    Having being a devout fan of MT in in the 3.xx days, when WP was merely a hackish tool for noobs and growing up, I recently moved to WP 2.3.3.

    Simply put, I will never, ever look back towards MT until they ditch their antiquated Perl/CGI platform.

    The one big thing going for MT was the static sites, which is hardly a leg up now with WP-Super-Cache or 1BlogCache, which combine the REALLY convenient dynamism of WP with static, digg-proof pages too.

    Beyond that, WP themes are a cinch to customize, the templating engine is fun to work with, and it’s PHP so it’s very, very simple to edit/expand. The hooks and plugin development engine is significantly easier than in the MT camp, and here’s the best part —

    Whatever you say, the availability of plugins is the single most attractive feature of WP. Expression Engine and Django are fantastically coded tools, and both also have a neat community, but the sheer plethora of extensions to WP is fabulous.

    By contrast, some of the most basic functionality in the MT camp is now offered by plugins (such as those from MT-Hacks.com) for a price! No, thank you. As for the “MT Community Edition” which is basically a forum, there’s a whole lot possible with the customization of BBPress, or integration of PunBB or the like–both of which are astonishingly easy to do compared to bothering with Movable Type’s minefield of “500 Server Errors” straight out of the 90s.

  • Mike

    Wow MT is totally out of line. Talk about lame!

  • Meraj Khattak

    I am using WP on my blog as it is an open source software and I have the full freedom to do anything it. While doing or apply any new changes I will not worry if I am going to exploit any licensing issue.

    Beside that, I also think WP provides me the number of plugins and themes, which no other software does. It is because of the strong community.

    Whenever I opt for any open source software, I am sure about one thing and that’s the great community support.

    MT lacks that.

  • NEM

    Sound Great!

  • jatyap

    Before I started this blog, I evaluated the pros and cons of both products (they were the leaders in the current market as far as I knew).
    For me, WordPress won hands down but MovableType was not without its merits.

    The way MT targeted the WordPress upgrades to gain market share, though, is just totally uncalled for… I have a feeling they are scared because they are fighting a losing battle.

  • Freehunk

    WordPress is THE BEST…There is no question about it.

  • Frank Gilroy

    I’m assuming the folks at Six Apart are big Apple fans. Don’t know about the folks at WP. I’m wondering if the whole set of Apple “Switch to Mac” adds coinciding with the launch of Vista was a motivation for this move? Interesting. Perhaps it would have worked better as a video rather than a blog post?

  • Daniel Scocco

    Frank, good point 🙂 .

  • The Masked Millionaire

    I came, I read, I don’t particulalry care.

    The Masked Millionaire
    http://www.TheMaskedMillionaire.com

  • Anil

    Since it’s come up a few times in this thread, I should reiterate that MT is an open source platform with a large (and growing) community. In addition, Six Apart has created and/or led the open technology efforts behind OpenID, OAuth, and infrastructure components like memcached and perlbal. While you might be less familiar with our open source projects like memcached, it’s a fundamental technology that makes large-scale dynamic sites possible on open source platforms, from Craigslist to Digg to Slashdot to Wikipedia to Facebook.

    Oh, and wordpress.com uses the results of that Six Apart open source project to keep its system scaling, too.

  • Daniel Scocco

    Anil, thanks for stepping by.

    For one thing I am all for a competitive landscape, especially when it comes from two open source platforms. Everybody benefits from it, and the users above all.

    I just think that the article that you posted went a bit over the edge. If you had just highlighted the features of MT along with its qualities, I would probably have read the whole thing.

    As soon as you started by suggesting that WP users should switch to MT instead of upgrading, though, you made me a bit upset and lost my interest altogether.

    It is like you needed something to grab people’s attention,as if the features that would come below on the post were not enough.

  • Shanx

    Anil, everything you mention about memcached (a livejournal project if I recall) etc is very well taken. There’s no doubt in the open source community that SA was the precursor of a number of absolutely admirable projects — I was myself in Tokyo when Neoteny et al took MT to the next level in its earlier years and was a bit of an evangelist myself.

    But none of that changes the fact that today, even post re-opening after a temporary bumbling with licensing, MT remains a much less friendlier platform in general. I have tried both 4.0 and 4.1 and the experience has been far from heartening. They both look a lot better than 3.xx, no doubt, and I do like the fact that I can use MT with postgres, but the overall experience, the availability of plugins for free which MT-Hacks makes available for a fee, the little trinkets in the WP world such as Yahoo Shortcuts plugin, etc, are just too attractive to let up. And with plugins like 1 Blog Cacher (better imho than WP Super Cache), WP also generates purely static sites that are fairly digg-proof yet dynamic. A very simple thing is the comments platform in the WP world, which are paginated, threaded, spam protected (I know MT Akismet too–but where did that start?), and so on. Try that with MT, for free.

    This debate is very healthy. But one hopes we could leave the puerile mac-vs-windows type loggerheads at the door.

  • Karthik

    I’m sure mine is going to be yet another post in the midst of all the WP supporters, but I just wanted air my opinion too – I respect MT for an alternative platform that is, but to have to resort to such petty marketing gimmicks is just pathetic.

    I’d tried a few platforms before settling for WP and I’m totally happy with its scalability, features and most of all, user-friendliness.

    I have it on a few blogs of mine, and I’m planning on setting up a magazine blog and also a CMS – WP scores on all these areas.

    Like Daniel and a commentator earlier rightly pointed out, if the post had outlined the pros of MT rather than sling-balling WP, it would have been received in a much better way. Rather than enticing bloggers to MT, in turn it has united bloggers to come out and chalk out the pros of WP.

    All I can say is, its going to take more than a smart post like that to convert me. Period.

  • Not John Chow

    WordPress would be best to ignore Moveable Type. WordPress has plenty of others to sing their praises and do not need to respond to MT’s attitude.

    Was MT unfair? No, I don’t think so. They are a business acting like a business. WordPress is something bigger.

  • Mike Panic

    The whole thing is funny. Reminds me of the phpBB vs. vB debates a few years ago when forums were the hot thing to run.

  • wisdom

    I don’t have any experience with moveable type, only wordpress. I think its a well played move by MT though.

  • Domaining

    WordPress is here to stay.

    MT is hopeless and their actions are just a desparate attempt to put off the inevitable.

  • Arnav

    “Oh, and wordpress.com uses the results of that Six Apart open source project to keep its system scaling, too”

    Ya, and all the software in the world uses binary 0,1 invented in India over 5500 years ago…!

    What are you arriving at?

    Besides I needed to upgrade my wordpress to version 2.5 and your article read ‘WordPress 2.5 upgrade guide’, which IT WAS NOT. False advertising.

    And trust me, just because of that article you wrote many ppl are just going to like wordpress ALL THE MORE. If ur cmpny’s shares go down in a couple of weeks, don’t be too surprised. Ur to blame. Sit back and think.

    Chao !

  • New blogger

    I was looking for a platform to begin my first blog when I saw the “WordPress upgrade” thread on the Six Apart homepage. It was an interesting read, not unprecedented in the software marketing wars to take an approach like this, and began to learn about difference between the products. However, the things have convinced me that WordPress is the way to go:

    The general feedback from the blogosphere on the product differences
    The well packaged installation and rich plug-in environment of WP

    But, the biggest thing is the general arrogance and Ego which seems to pervade everything that Six Apart writes, from their own blogs, their comments in others blogs, to their website. I’d rather invest my time as part of the WP community.

  • Richard Eng

    I chose WordPress 2.3 for three of my blogging websites, and I’m very happy with it. I recently upgraded to WordPress 2.5, and it was a breeze! I must confess, I was a little afraid to upgrade, but my fears were completely unfounded.

    Regardless of MT’s pleas to switch platforms, I see absolutely no reason to even consider it. Why should I??? WordPress is fabulous. MT may be, too, though I seriously doubt it. I’ll stick with what I’ve got, thank you very much.

    MT, you are not cool. Your puerile behavior is a total turn-off!

  • MaxTheITpro

    I think I’m going to have to take the WP 2.5 plunge. I’m a regular Blogger user, but it’s time to spread my wings. This nitpiking stuff is silly. Give both MT and WP their props and let it be. Perhaps a year from now will be a good time to revisit WP vs MT so as to see the fruits of open sourcing.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • webhosting

    I already asked it on an other page here, but what are the examples from using wordpress vs nucleus or drupal?

  • ersin

    only WordPress 🙂 .

  • güvenlik

    WordPress more useful I think..

  • ankraj

    WordPress 2.5.1 very clean and useful ..

  • proje

    I am use wordpress and like it.

  • photoshop

    wow.. very good theme.. thx

  • assembly

    good.. thx.

  • helva

    I’m a regular Blogger user, but it’s time to spread my wings. This nitpiking stuff is silly.

  • MaxTheITpro

    Well, looks like I’m gonna be taking the ExpressionEngine plunge folks. Been hearing some AMAZING things about it’s chameleon-like architecture plus the fact that it’s built on my favourite PHP web framework, CodeIgniter, which is sooooo easy for creating powerful, scalable web apps.

  • shared hosting solutions

    ok, i’ve tested wordpress for the last few weeks in a testfase. i must admit i’m quit suprised about the functions and the build in seo plugins. I’ve used nucleus before but i’m going to switch. thx dailyblogtips!!!

  • clint

    I was a dedicated MT user for quite some time. Way back when they were both pretty raw. WordPress was just a little bit less finished (I forget which version I tried – zero point something)

    But as I continued using MT, the kept bulking it up, making it less user friendly, slower and then totally killed it for me with MT4. I think they peaked at version 3.2. Everything since then has seemed like the newest version of Office.

    I recently took another look at WP. It’s definitely been cleaned up since its earliest iterations, and it works for me now. Almost all my own and my clients’ sites have been converted now.

    Sorry Anil, I guess I’m happier downgrading.

  • Matt

    WP for me!

  • Andrew

    I think this is a totally fair tactic on MT’s part. If the roles were reversed, I bet far fewer folks would be taking issue with it. I bet few, if any, of you take issue with the Apple ads that openly mock Microsoft. This, if anything, is the same approach done in what I consider to be a more straightforward manner.

    Full disclosure, I use MT for my zoology news site, but am using WP for a new site I am currently working on.

  • Peter Szabo

    WordPress is THE BEST…There is no question about it.

  • Ranjan

    Good post – I never considered MovableType but may do so now. But in all fairness WordPress has been steadily improving with each version and their team seems to be quite busy upgrading regularly.

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