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Six Apart Releases Movable Type 4

More than 50 new features are included to ease template and asset management, improve text editing, and enhance the online social experience.

Blogging software and services company Six Apart on Tuesday released Movable Type 4, a new version of its popular online publishing software.

Chris Alden, executive VP and general manager of the professional division at Six Apart, characterized the release as the largest in the product's history.

Movable Type 4 adds more than 50 new features to ease template and asset management, to improve text editing, and to enhance the online social experience.

Boing Boing, one of the most visited and influential blogs, is planning to deploy Movable Type 4. Mark Frauenfelder, founder of Boing Boing, lauds the software's "great new features that will let our community get even more involved in the conversation."

In 2004, Six Apart found itself on the wrong end of that conversation with the release of Movable Type 3. Dislike of the software's license spurred many Movable Type users to move to WordPress, an open source blogging platform.

Having weathered the online community's disaffection, Six Apart responded in June by committing to the release of an open source version of Movable Type 4 in the third quarter of the year.

And yet the conflict between Movable Type and WordPress remains very much present, mirroring the sniping that still occupies militant Mac OS and Windows users, except at a more civil level.

In a post on the Publishing 2.0 blog in June, Six Apart VP Anil Dash attempted to address WordPress partisans.

"Regardless of the perception in tech geek circles, the audience for all our platforms has been growing rapidly," he said. "... There are definitely people who focus on trying to get people to switch from one blog tool to another; we just don't think that's a sustainable method of growing blogging as a whole, so we focus on getting new bloggers started, and those new people are smart enough not to see a space where everyone is growing as a simplistic horse race. There can be, and always is, more than one 'winner.'"

Indeed, Six Apart has won fans among businesses that blog, and its upcoming Movable Type Enterprise Solution, with support for LDAP and Oracle 10g, will likely be welcomed by paying enterprise customers if not fans of free code. That said, WordPress is making headway among corporate customers, too.

The larger question is whether winning business customers will matter more in coming years than winning the hearts and minds of individual bloggers.

It may be that in a few years, few individuals will bother downloading and installing blogging software on Internet servers. Already many ISPs offer pre-installed MovableType, WordPress, or other blogging software with Web hosting accounts. And those with less love of technical fiddling are opting for hosted blogging services like Google's Blogger or Six Apart's TypePad, or they're feeding their blogging fix through social networks like Facebook, MySpace, or Ning.

As hosted offerings address more and more of the issues that once drove bloggers to rent server space and install customizable code, the passions dividing Movable Type and WordPress users seem destined to dwindle.

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