A couple of weeks ago Six Apart released the latest version of Movabletype, the software that lies at the heart of this site and hundreds of thousands of other blogs. The new version, 3.2, offers so many new features that it could almost have been called version 4.0. Here are a few of my favorite features and wishlist of things I would like to see in the future:
- New Dashboard - The first screen the user sees when logging into the administrative interface has been tidied up and the functionality has been increased. A couple of useful plugins and a new Stylesheet go a long way to making it even better.
- Spam protection - Perhaps the single greatest annoyance when it comes to blogging is dealing with spammers. Many of us deal with, literally, hundreds or even thousands of spam attempts every day. The new version of MT has a great tool for dealing with this problem in the form of SpamLookup. This plugin was released for MT 3.x but has been incorporated into the software for the new release. While I do not use the commenting system in MT, I do use the trackbacks. A couple of weeks after installing MT 3.2, the program has blocked all of the thousands of trackback spam attempts while properly allowing most of the legitimate trackbacks. The protection is perhaps a little bit too strong, as it does block some legitimate trackbacks. But it’s hard to complain.
- Plugin Management - Plugins can now be disabled without being removed (similar to WordPress). There is also a central repository that displays all the tags the plugins make available.
- There are many other improvements, but these are the ones I felt were most beneficial to me.
Movabletype has always had a great community developing some incredible plugins that extend the functionality of the program far beyond what Six Apart provides. The “out of the box” experience is negligible compared to what it can be when it has been “plugge-in.” Here are some of the most important plugins:
- BigPAPI - This plugin does nothing in and of itself, but does allow some great functionality for other plugins. It is a must-have for MT 3.2.
- UpdateAuthoredOn - Corrects one of MT’s most inexcusible oversights - the lack of an “update” button to insert the current time in the date field when making a post.
- EnhancedEntryEditing - Adds WYSIWYG capabilities to the entry fields relying on the TinyMCE utility. This is a great improvement on the hack for previous versions of MT which relied on HTMLArea. Unfortunately there are some small problems in Firefox but I trust those will be resolved soon.
- StatWatch - A tiny utility that allows the site owner to track visits to the site. It is a great concept, though needs to be extended to be a serious competitor to SiteMeter. One great feature is that it breaks down traffic by blog for those of us who have multiple blogs in one installation of Movabletype.
- Media Manager - This is the successor to BookQueueToo, the utility that allows tracking of Amazon wishlists, reviews, reading queues, and so on. It is newly upgraded for MT 3.2 and looks great.
There are a few features I would still like to see. Among them are:
- Scheduled posting that does not rely on cronjobs. Many servers do not allow the type of cronjob necessary to allow scheduled posting to be effective.
- A native WYSIWYG interface, or at the very least one that has been properly tested and implemented.
- A utility for managing site assets such as graphics, photos, etc. This is an inexcusible oversight and something that is desperately needed. There is currently no way of managing photos that have been uploaded to the site.
- Custom fields. I would love to have the ability to add custom fields to the interface. I do realize this introduces many levels of difficulty (and I realize that it is quite easy to hack the software to add them if necessary).
All-in-all, Movabletye 3.2 greatly extends the functionality of the software. While I have always preferred Movabletype to the competitors, these new features only reinforce my belief that Movabletype is the best blogging package available.