Adobe’s take on WordPress vs MovableType

To be fair, this is actually an “Adobe employee’s personal take” (as Anil Dash pointed out) on this situation. My post is not meant as a slam to Movable Type, I simply found humor in the quote on the Adobe blog.

Powered by a blogging system that's not as good as WordPress but still tries really hardWhile helping out in the WordPress IRC channel today, someone sent me a link to an Adobe Blog called Penguin.SWF, which tracks development status and issues regarding the Linux version of Adobe’s Flash Player. In case they change it, this image is from the bottom of the right sidebar. The exact text is “Powered by a blogging system that’s not as good as WordPress but still tries really hard” and “tries really hard” links to MovableType.com.

WordPress and Movable Type are competing platforms, but recently that competition has come to a boil. Anil Dash, Six Apart’s Chief Evangelist, took some shots with a blog post titled A WordPress 2.5 Upgrade Guide where he asserted that Movable Type was the upgrade that WordPress installs needed. Matt Mullenweg, WordPress founder, fired back in a Twitter message that said “six apart is getting desperate, and dirty” to which Anil replied “desperation is resorting to name-calling and slander instead of substance — if there’s a factual error, i’m glad to fix it.

The barrage went on for weeks, spilling into blogs, forums, and ultimately into the community itself. I’m not going to get into my personal take on the situation right now, that’s for another, much longer, post. Suffice it to say that I develop WordPress sites, write WordPress plugins, and contribute code to WordPress. What I find much more interesting is that someone over at Adobe, on the Linux version of Adobe’s Flash Player, is revolting because they don’t like Movable Type.

About Aaron D. Campbell

Owner and lead developer at BlueDog, Aaron has 10+ years of web development experience, it a regular core contributor to the WordPress project, and has released many WordPress plugins.
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10 thoughts on “Adobe’s take on WordPress vs MovableType

  1. Pingback: Adobe on WordPress vs. Movable Type · Pressed Words

  2. Anil says:

    That’s hardly “Adobe’s take” on blogging platforms — that’s one Adobe employee’s personal take on an older version of MT, no doubt influenced by a time when MT wasn’t open source. Fortunately, MT’s open now, and MT4 (which my post that you referenced was about) has revitalized the platform, putting it clearly ahead as the most powerful blogging platform around. In fact, one of its signature features is its Flash-powered dashboard statistics, which I’m sure Mike Melanson can appreciate, especially since his platform work on Flash is headed towards being more open just like MT.

    What’s kind of surprising to me is that a vibrant, active community of WordPress users is interested in one off-hand sidebar comment, or proofreading individual sentences in lengthy articles instead of, you know, trying to get more people blogging or working on improving the platform.

    If you want to represent “Adobe’s take” on blogging platforms in general, I think you can adequately articulate it by looking at the fact that they’re one of the most progressive companies in the world in terms of embracing blogs, they do a remarkable job of being transparent and credible. And Adobe uses Movable Type.

  3. Anil: You make a valid point about the title of the article. I’m sure it’s not the general opinion of Adobe, but rather the opinion of a single individual that works for them. I added an intro to that effect at the beginning of the post. Also, I checked, and it looks like they are running 3.2, and while I know 4.1 is the newest, I honestly don’t know how old 3.2 is.

    As for the “vibrant, active community of WordPress users” that pick apart a single sentence in an article, you are referring to one person, Matt Mullenweg. I know plenty of the active WordPress community (myself included) who would not be so picky. Even so, it doesn’t seem that he was being overly rude, just trying to point out an error and make sure that the competition isn’t making any false claims. I don’t think there was any malicious intent (I tried to use malintent there, but apparently that’s not actually a word…I was surprised!) in that article, but in my opinion clarifying the sentence so there is no misunderstanding is not so bad.

    As for Movable Type being “clearly ahead as the most powerful blogging platform around” you have me intrigued. That’s a bold claim. I’m not a WordPress zealot, I use WordPress because when I originally weighed all the options, I thought it was the best one. However, I want what’s best for my clients. I take pride in offering complete customer satisfaction, giving them exactly what they need. So, if there is anyone reading this that has a foot in both worlds, develops for and uses both WordPress and Movable Type, I’d like to hear from you. I don’t want an overly slanted view, I don’t want a bunch of “(Movable Type|WordPress) ROCKS!” emails, but maybe a couple people that can tell me about their experiences either way, who have recently used BOTH platforms.

    Anil: I’d also be interested in hearing straight from you if you find time in your busy schedule. I’d be happy to give you a call or catch you on IM/Skype/IRC/whatever.

  4. Anil Dash says:

    Aaron, thanks for a totally fair and reasonable response! To be clear, I should have said *some* people are inclined to perpetuate the “us vs. them” stuff. While I (obviously) have a professional interest in arguing for why the tools made by our community are often better, I think the best goal all of us in the blogging community can serve is to give more people more tools to express themselves. (And it’s not just talk — tons of the users of our BlogIt service are WordPress or Blogger or Twitter users, not just folks on our platforms.

    I’ve made my argument on the relative merits of both platforms earlier, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I also think WordPress is an excellent blogging platform, one that I’m glad has brought a lot of people satisfaction, and one our new Services and Media teams at Six Apart are happy to work with. I’ll leave it to our shared community to offer additional insights of how the technology itself can be compared and contrasted.

  5. Jay Allen says:

    “Also, I checked, and it looks like they are running 3.2, and while I know 4.1 is the newest, I honestly don’t know how old 3.2 is.”

    You are correct about the version and MT 3.2 is old as dirt (Aug 25, 2005). It was great at the time, but today sadly shows a great deal of age. In the last three years, a number of HUGE updates have been released:

    * MT 3.3 which many people said at the time should have been called MT 4.0
    * MT Enterprise which adds features required by large and vibrant installations
    * MT 4.0 which blows anything before it away
    * MT Community Solution, which is really what Adobe should be running right now.
    * MT 4.1 which adds crucial refinements and incredible features on top of an alredy solid release.

  6. Thank you very much for the sane replies and useful information. I spent some time in the Movable type IRC channel, and was impressed with how helpful some people there were (especially su). I got a lot of my questions answered. In the end, Movable type sounds great, but the fact is that in the end I know PHP really well, and I’m new to PERL. I plan on learning PERL, and I plan on trying Movable Type, but for now WordPress is the platform for me.

    What I want to see is the community competing in a friendly way, one where a verbal jab like the one on the Adobe Blog is funny, not inciting. I’ve talked about my views on community before, and I really think that while competition can foster growth, friendly, cooperative competition can produce even more growth. I want to see people in general benefit from the choices that are offered.

  7. Jay Allen says:

    “In the end, Movable type sounds great, but the fact is that in the end I know PHP really well, and I’m new to PERL. I plan on learning PERL, and I plan on trying Movable Type, but for now WordPress is the platform for me.”

    I think you hit the head on the nail here. For those who care about actually extending their own software, you should choose whatever makes it easier to do so. If you’re a PHP whiz, WordPress is for you. If you’re a Perl Wizard, Movable Type is undoubtedly the best choice. If you know neither or don’t care much about extending the software beyond the available plugins, then it really comes down to whichever you feel most comfortable in and which fits your needs best.

    “What I want to see is the community competing in a friendly way, one where a verbal jab like the one on the Adobe Blog is funny, not inciting.”

    I’ve frankly never understood the competition in the first place. As stated above, the choice between the two isn’t even a choice if you’re a geek. The same is true for certain other user types where one platform is all but designed for particular uses.

    So the set of users the two are truly competing for is very narrow in scope yet there are hundreds of millions of people who have never heard of the word “blog”. With such an enormous glut of potential new users, it should honestly be the friendliest “competition” ever and yet some people make it into a dirty death match. Human nature, I suppose. Perspective is most definitely lacking.

  8. I was contacted by a person that has experience with both WordPress and Movable Type. They offered their comparison, but asked not to be named here. In order to keep this in proper perspective, this person uses Movable Type extensively but has worked with the recent versions of WordPress. Some things are definitely “arguable” but I thought it was overall really great. Here is the comparison:

    This comparison between Movable Type and WordPress will deal strictly with the most recent versions available, so WordPress 2.5 and Movable Type 4.1 Personal Edition.

    Let’s start off with the most basic thing to start with: Software support. WordPress supports only MySQL, and supports PHP 4 & 5. Movable Type supports Postgres, Sqlite and MySQL; it also supports PHP 4 & 5. So for database support Movable Type pulls out a little as Postgresql is starting to make a bit of a comeback.

    On to installation: here, I have to say Movable Type is not that great. It requires Perl, and a number of CPAN modules, some of which come with Movable Type, some of which do not and you have to hope your host has the ones that do not come with MT or you are screwed. Also you have the whole changing permissions on scripts, and having to create directories and have them set with proper permissions for MT to publish to. It’s gotten better with MT 4, but still doesn’t come near WordPress’ five minute install.

    Stability goes either way. WordPress puts a very large load on the server every single time someone hits it; in fact some reports show it spiking the CPU up to 80 or 90 percent on a default install, which to me is not the best of things to do. WordPress is also notoriously bad for surviving Digg/Slashdot traffic so that has always concerned me. With MT if you statically publish everything there is a hit when the site rebuilds, including when someone publishes a comment, but you also have the peace of mind that that content is available until the server crashes from way too much traffic. The only downfall is as entries are added to MT, the publish times, and even insert times grow linearly, and that still has yet to be addressed, so neither of them are perfect for server load, but I believe MT has a bit of a lead here.

    Templates: MT all the way here. WordPress still has the whole PHP based template thing going on, and you still need to have knowledge of PHP to totally redesign your pages. MT has always been tag based, so it keeps complexity out of the picture unless you want it there (IE MTInclude/MTIf). Granted, because of WordPress’ open nature there are a ton more templates out there for it which is good for new bloggers or those that don’t want to be arsed designing their own site. With MT opening up though, this may start to balance out.

    Plugins: WordPress gets a bit of a nudge here. With MT you have to know Perl which not as many people know. However, whatever you could make happen in WordPress you can make happen in MT you just have to do it a bit differently. Because WordPress is a dynamic system by default you can pull RSS in real time whereas in MT it’s a bit tougher. Periodic tasks however have improved this a bit for MT.

    General ease of use: WordPress wins here, sadly. WordPress is just stupid simple, you install it, type, save done. With Movable Type there is more configuring to be done, you have to create archive templates, you have to setup paths for building files in…there is just more to it. Again MT is getting better at this but still lagging behind.

    Dashboard: MT I think. Flash based Dashboard is pretty damn nice. You get a very nice overlook of all the activity on your site, I think the logs are a bit nicer in MT and the layout feels a little bit nicer. WordPress’ dashboard hasn’t changed a huge bit since inception and feels a bit rough, and a bit clumsy.

    The reason I use Movable Type is because it is a damn good product for its roots. It supports multiple blogs which is nice; it can publish one blog into another with the addon of the MultiBlog plugin. I like static files because those will be available even if the db is borked. Plus the company behind MT is excellent. They are a good company, with very smart people behind it. I’m not saying Automattic isn’t a good company; I have just always liked 6A for their openness about everything, even their hosted platforms.

  9. Pingback: Adobe Trolling on MovableType, Prefers WordPress « planetOzh

  10. Ozh says:

    Heh, this is definitely funny. Blogged :)

    By the way, I’m a WP user, I know my way in PHP but I also happen to know a bit in Perl (designed, coded and still run a community website entirely written in, oh the horror, Perl). I really *wanted* to give latest MT a try…. but just could not figure how the hell to install this bloated unintuitive stuff on my Windows test box (which has Perl running). MT’s install procedure is not “not that great”, it is honestly *terrible*.

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