Six Apart has recently decided that the best way to win back customers fleeing their platforms is to target WordPress, which is a new strategy they call competing. (What have they been doing the past 7 years?) A good example is this exchange between a commenter on Valleywag and Byrne Reese, the lead developer of Movable Type:
Sundown: “@anildash: what part of WordPress is not open source?”
byrnereese: “@Sunnduwn – I think that is a question better asked of Automattic. Anil, and certainly not Six Apart, has never been briefed, nor has anyone for that matter been presented with an accounting of what is open and closed source at Automattic.”
Okay, here’s some accounting:
WordPress is 100% open source, GPL.
All plugins in the official directory are GPL or compatible, 100% open source.
bbPress is 100% GPL.
WordPress MU is 100% open source, GPL, and if you wanted you could take it and build your own hosted platform like WordPress.com, like edublogs.org has with over 100,000 blogs.
There is more GPL stuff on the way, as well.
Could you build Typepad or Vox with Movable Type? Probably not, especially since people with more than a few blogs or posts say it grinds to a halt, as Metblogs found before they switched to WordPress.
Automattic (and other people) can provide full support for GPL software, which is the single license everything we support is under. Movable Type has 8 different licenses and the “open source” one doesn’t allow any support. The community around WordPress is amazing and most people find it more than adequate for their support needs.
Movable Type, which is Six Apart’s only Open Source product line now that they’ve dumped Livejournal, doesn’t even have a public bug tracker, even though they announced it going OS over 9 months ago!
I had held off criticizing them after they went OS and before they decided to start an all-out confrontation because that’s not generally what OS projects do to each other.
For as long as I can remember the WordPress about page has linked and thanked Movable Type for ideas and inspiration.
Movable Type once led the market, it had over 90% marketshare in the self-hosted market. Now they call “pages” and “dynamic publishing”, features WordPress has had for 4+ years, innovation and you still can’t do basic things like click “next posts” at the bottom of home page.
For the record, I’m glad they’ve taken the license of MT in a positive direction that prevents them from betraying their customers like they did with MT3, but they have a long way to go before the project could be considered a community.
WordPress did 3 major releases last year, we’ll do 3 major releases this year. Along the way thousands of people will contribute, as well as every employee of Automattic. What we build will be greater than the sum of its parts because we’ve been a community and open source from the beginning, and always will be.
Mashable compared MovableType 4 and WordPress 2.2. I wouldn’t agree with Byrne that “Movable Type 4.0 is light years ahead of its predecessor not to mention any other blogging tool on the market” but they have caught up to a lot of basic features — pages, WYSIWYG, pagination, user registration — that have been lacking in the platform for a while. That, plus the fact that they support WordPress imports and cloned our pages API does show that they’re gunning for some switchers regardless of what they may say in public. (I’m cool with both of those by the way, it was good of them to adopt existing standards instead of invent new ones. In fact it’d be nice if they could export to WXR as well as it’s pretty semantically rich and the current MT export format leaves a lot of important stuff out, like slugs.)