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Movable Type 30D – Rands in Repose
Tech Life Quality on the bleeding edge?

Movable Type 30D

I’m scratching my head regarding my recent upgrade to Movable Type 3.0.

Back in April, it became fashionable to rip on Six Apart and their apparent desire to make money as a company. Rabid discussions ensued regarding their pricing and, to their credit, the general agreement is that they’ve nailed their revised pricing, but still lack a compelling solution for small shop weblogs with lots of authors. Oh well, here comes WordPress for those who prefer good and free.

I’m a Movable Type fan. Never in my many months of usage have I run into a significant defect in the software. Sure, it lacked functionality regarding comments and rebuild times were atrocious, but it worked, it stayed out the way and I was fully expecting to pay cash money for the 3.0.

… and then I upgraded.

My first issue has to do with the PR around the 3.0 release. Take a look at the download page. Anything on there give you the impression that the software is anything than less than ready for production? I mean, they’re charging for it, right? It works, right?

Mostly.

My upgrade experience was pretty solid. The weblog suffered no immediate ill effects from moving to 3.0 and, hey, the new MT administration interface is cleaner. I like clean. I like fast.

When I started poking around comments, I found some problems. They were:

1) Cookies were not being saved for users

2) The TypeKey authentication system wasn’t working

3) There appeared to be no way to alter the comment moderation features. All comments were being pended for my approval

4) I was getting slew of errors when rebuilding pages from the mt-rssfeed plugin

The solutions for each of these problems were:

1) Completely rewrite my comments templates as the ones included w/ MT30D are just plain broken. (Thanks Tweezer)

2) I need to add a trailing slash to my randsinrepose.com entry on Typepad (Thanks MT Support)

3) I had to turn off MT-Blacklist (Thanks Tweezer, again)

4) I simply removed the mt-rssfeed plugin which I was not actively using (Go me)

Now, I triage bugs for a living, so let me explain the perceived priority/severity of each of the issues I described now that we understand the solutions:

1) Cookies broken — This is broken functionality. Stop ship. Don’t ship broken code

2) Authentication not working. This is an easy work around, but given the simplicity of the solution, it’s odd that this problem still exists

3) Comment moderation features broken. MT3 is a “platform” release, so turning off older third-party plug-ins seems reasonable AS LONG AS IT’S NOT THE ONE PLUG-IN THAT NEEDS TO KEEP WORKING. HELLO CONSTANT COMMENT SPAM

4) No biggie

Back to my first point. Look at the front page of the MT website. It’s a public release right? No big bad bugs? Wrong. On both counts. It’s a developer release. It’s a “hey, develop your plug-in our platform” release and I’m assuming it’s not ready for prime time release… but I’m assuming that… there’s nothing to back up that assumption except that Developer word hanging off the end of Movable Type. If this release isn’t for the world, shouldn’t there be a little waving yellow flag where you download the bits which says, “Hi, Developer release… there’s likely bugs here, folks.”

Ok, great, it’s a developer release and, hey, my upgrade went ok, so why exactly am I scratching my head again? Well, those bugs bug me. Folks that ship software know that the out of box experience with a piece of software taints the rest of the experience and what I felt with MT30D was significantly different than the many prior releases of the 2.x codebase. They plant a seed of doubt in my head that has now sprouted into the question, “Well, if I (a non-power user) found these significant issues… what else is there?”

If Six Apart’s quality track record wasn’t already established in my mind, this head scratching is a non-issue, but I’ve experienced the quality of their products. My impression of their quality has moved from just great to pretty good. That means I’m now double-checking functionality on my weblog that I took for granted in prior releases. Yes, it’s a developer release, but what exactly does that mean?

2 Responses

  1. I’m a big MT fan, too, but I agree that MT3D feels rough. The new commenting options are a mess. I’m no stranger to building complex templates, but the amount of new tags, scripts, and administrative settings you have to get *just right* is scary. Especially when they’re still undocumented in this release. I had hoped that gaining TypeKey would make up for losing MT-Blacklist, but…no.

    I’m wondering if my dedication to MT is fuelled by my familiarity with it. No matter how you slice it, it’s good software; but I think I need to take a look at WordPress and ExpressionEngine to see how much progress the rest of the industry has made recently.

  2. Didn’t you remember calling beta dead this year rands? Well it’s still is. I think we all know what happened with MT, they had a really good 2.X version, everything was there, popularity, customers, stable etc, everything except money generation. Then they had two choices, charge for a new 2.X, or the dumb choice, ship a 3.0 bugridden. You can tell marketing got the final say.