Movable Type 4 beta – yuck.

And now, a geek interlude. (mmm. ‘ludes.) I run this blog (and those I support) on Movable Type. I know there’s a vast, imaginary religious war between WordPress users and Movable Type users, though in fact my loyalty to Movable Type has more to do with my expertise in the tool (I can put together […]

And now, a geek interlude.

(mmm. ‘ludes.)

I run this blog (and those I support) on Movable Type. I know there’s a vast, imaginary religious war between WordPress users and Movable Type users, though in fact my loyalty to Movable Type has more to do with my expertise in the tool (I can put together an MT blog from scratch, including a download and most major plugins in about five minutes).

In any case, being a major geek, i always get excited when there’s a major new version of a tool I use. I check every damned day for updates on when ecto3 is coming out, for example.

Yesterday, Brandon told me that MT4 had just entered Beta. And even though I’m way too busy to work on something like this, I still had to go download and install it.


There are a billion new features. It really looks, in a lot of ways, like they’ve merged the best of vox and typepad with MT. Reading about all they’ve added and fixed, i’m loving the product.

But then I actually used it.

They’ve royally fucked up the interface. I mean royally. One if the things that was cool about MT is that the interface was so simple, so easy to use, so well organized, and so fast. All this is gone; they’ve replaced it with something where every single thing you need is hidden under a pull-down and then a page load. Worse, they’ve given menus obscure names, and used some slow technology to generate all this, making the interface simply painful to use.

In short, I hate the new interface. It’s crap.

I’ve filed tickets with the beta support team, and left comments on Six Apart’s blog where this was announced. But I’m afraid they spent a lot of engineering and graphic design budget on this, and knowing a company like Six Apart, they’ll chuck my input right out. “no it’s better, you’ll get user to it” is the typical corporate response to things like this, which generally means ‘we already paid for it and we already invested committee time to do it, too late to fix it now, we don’t care that it’s not very good.’ They simply pretend it isn’t broken and go on.

At this point I’m kind of wedded to Movable Type. I’ve paid for a lifetime-unlimited license, and I’ve built a library of expertise. I’ve heavily customized. I don’t have time anymore to start over (not in the near future, anyway) on another platform. So odds are I’ll upgrade; the new version really does have cool features. But it disappoints me that they would fail to even consider usability when doing a redesign like this, and unless they hear and address the issues, it saddens me to see the company that pretty much invented the concept of the high-end personal blogging tool go corporate and let whiz-bang overwhelm engineering sense.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they’ll hear me and correct the inherently wrong design concept that drop this; or at least, maybe they’ll provide an configuration option that will let me toggle to a usability style (vs a ‘gee, it looks cool’ style.) But I ain’t holding my breath.

I’ll tell you though, last time I was at the head of the pack with the beta, installing every one as it came out and even going bleeding edge and installing the beta in my production blogs before they were sure it was safe. Not this time; I’m just not confident they know what they’re doing yet. There are too many bugs in this (it smells like alpha), and the poor engineering thinking in the interface designs tells me they’re putting the engineering budget in the wrong place; not a good sign.

7 thoughts on “Movable Type 4 beta – yuck.”

  1. Y’know, I didn’t think I’d move away from MT either, but WordPress, despite having a clunky, unenlightened backend interface of its own, definitely offers much easier extensibility and I’ve had better results with its pinging of trackbacks and aggregators.

    Also, Akismet kicks much ass for the proactive blocking of spam. It could even best Chuck Norris. Seriously.

    That said, I’d wonder if the MT4 Beta slowness didn’t have something to do with the server….at the time we were talking, I was doing some stuff in somebody else’s MT blog (clearing out 5,000+ junk comments) so the speed issue could’ve been on our side.

  2. Hon, you know (KNOW!!!) that if it’s Beta, this is pretty much it except for the bug fixes. And if there’s that many bugs (enough to say ‘maybe alpha?’), they’re rushing release and it’s not for a good reason. I’d wonder what profitability statement is about to be released.

  3. It could even best Chuck Norris

    But not Jack Bauer.

    Ok, season six Jack Bauer, yes, but then he’s so lame he beats up himself. Season five 1-2 and 4-5 jack, though. Nothing can beat him.

    We’ll review the speed issues, Brandon; but the problem is that so many things in MT4 require extra page loads that it’s unfriendly on a loaded server. The old version presented most of what you need on one or two pages, so that wasn’t a big issue.

    I’m just hoping they’ll think about usability. I am reasonably sure the speed issues, if native to the platform, can be addressed. But it’s the faulty design concept that concerns me. While there are things to like about WP, I really *like* the way MT does things for the most part.

  4. Syl:
    An elderly friend of mine’s blog has been getting hammered with spam lately. 99.9% of it gets filtered into the junk folder, but I’m looking for better solutions.

  5. Hello! *waves* Been a while since I’ve commented here.

    I had to move away from MT, since it was periodically killing the server I’m on. Now, maybe the server is improperly setup to handle something like MT, but it also hosts a very popular website on it, so that + MT could have brought on the issues. I’m now with WordPress, and despite my initial dislike of its interface, I’m now pretty comfortable with it.

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