Six Apart confirms that MT3 is not a “feature release.”

In my write-up about MT3 I posted yesterday I summed up my disappointment with MT3 as being the minimal amount of new features it came with. Now an entry on Mena’s Corner confirms that MT3 wasn’t meant to introduce lots of long awaited new features, but instead was focused on providing the new TypeKey system and a more powerful plugin API.

Movable Type 3.0 is not the fabled “Pro” version as originally described. We had always imagined Pro as being a feature packed version that would contain all the features ever requested. What we’ve learned in the past year is that every user wants a different set of features, and we need to create a product that is not just feature-packed, but robust, extensible and geared toward a specific audience. Movable Type 3.0 and on will not be the solution for everyone, and that’s okay. For some users, TypePad makes more sense. For others, non-Six Apart tools make more sense.

Movable Type 3.0 is not intended to be a feature release (3.x releases will address the addition of features). While we have devoted a great deal of resources to making the main feature—comment registration—sophisticated and flexible, it’s the Movable Type engine that has evolved (and will continue to evolve) significantly. In this vein, we’ve made speed optimizations to this release as well as made processes such as rebuilding smarter.

In terms of extensibility to the engine, the main “feature” of Movable Type 3.0 is actually more powerful than any feature we could have added: it’s the extensibility that we’ve added in the form of the enhanced plugin architecture. The plugin/developer community is one of Movable Type’s greatest strengths. Since Movable Type isn’t open source, this has been the way in which our users have contributed to the product while relying on Six Apart to provide the strong foundation for their work to flourish.

With 3.0, we will not only be taking the technical strides to enable this, but will also be working to create a developer community that succeeds along with Six Apart.

3.0 has awoken Movable Type after a long slumber, and we will continue to not only improve the platform but also roll in the features that belong in a power tool. And, the developer community is only going to become stronger now that we have the structure to allow it to thrive.

The beef of Movable Type 3.0 is the platform and what the community will be empowered to accomplish.

As I said yesterday, this is pretty much what I suspected would be the case and the lack of long-awaited new features is my only real complaint about MT3. It also confirms my suspicions about both the power and the intent behind the new plugin API.

Mena does give us reason to hope that future point releases of MT3 will start to introduce some of the new features we were hoping for in MT3 (probably as plugins I’m guessing) and it sounds like Six Apart plans on supporting the plugin authors in making good use of the new API. The more I learn about the new plugin system and the more I hear about it the more convinced I become that in the long run this will be the most significant part of the introduction of MovableType 3.0; more so than even TypeKey which has gotten most of the attention so far.

I also predict that it won’t be too long before some of the plugins introduced in the future will come with a price tag attached, both from Six Apart and from third parties. I’m sure some folks out there will balk at this idea, but consider this possibility: If Six Apart said that you could buy a plugin for MovableType that would add in the TypeList functionality already in use on TypePad sites across all your MT blogs for, say, $5 to $15 wouldn’t that be more than reasonable? Keeping in mind that there’s nothing stopping anyone from writing a similar plugin that they might give away for free.

Finally, someone pointed out to me in an email that I never said whether or not MT3 was worth upgrading to considering my disappointment with it so let me address that here. Yes, it’s worth upgrading if you’re already running an older version. It’s definitely an improvement and it holds much promise for the future, but if you were hoping for lots of new goodies then you will be disappointed as I was. If you were already thinking about switching to something else then there’s probably not a whole lot in MT3 that’ll convince you to stick around unless you consider the future potential the new plugin API presents.

Like I said yesterday, it’s not that MT3 is bad in any way (in my opinion) just that it didn’t have stuff I’ve been hoping to see for a long time now. If Six Apart manages to pump out 3.x upgrades in a reasonable timeframe, which in my mind would be no more than 6 to 8 months between them depending on how much new stuff they add, then most folks will probably be happy to stick with them. The wildcard in how long is too long will be the third party plugin authors. If folks start pumping out amazing plugins that add in some of the most requested features then Six Apart will have more breathing room between their point releases before folks get frustrated. I think MT3 offers a lot of potential for the future by laying down a more substantial foundation to build on and it’ll be interesting to see what the future will bring.

5 thoughts on “Six Apart confirms that MT3 is not a “feature release.”

  1. Seeing as how MT’s core application already uses a whole lot of resources, and the MT Plugin manager has already been banned by several hosts, I can’t see what long-term viability MT may have for users on non-dedicated systems.

    On the other hand, for folks that aren’t adding all kinds of plugins and are happy with its utter core functionality, it may still be of value for a while.

    Time to start fiddling with some of these other packages. Just in case.

  2. (answering for Les, because it’s a slow day at work and I’m bored as snot)

    It’s optional. You can enable it if you wish, or leave comments open to anyone and their redheaded third cousin.

  3. What she said. Technically, I’ve got it enabled right now. You’ll note the little profile icon next to some commenter’s names. You can still post comments on here without a TypeKey account, but if you’ve got one you can sign in with it. There is a small bug that shows up when you use sub-domains that makes it look like the sign in didn’t take, but as you can see with this comment, it works.

    Meanwhile on my “root” blog (Jenkins Online), my daughter’s blog, and the MIBlogs sites I run I have them set to only allow TypeKey comments just to cut down on the amount of comment spam I have to deal with. It’s certainly possible to turn TypeKey off completely at which point it acts just like the old system and means you can avoid changing your templates.

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