WordPress vs. Movable Type: Who’s Winning?

Hendry Lee of BlogBuildingU recently published an article comparing WordPress 2.5 and the latest version of Six Apart’s Movable Type. It seems thought out fairly well, and seems to be fair comparision.

Though a lot of people may be getting tired of this little fight, it’s not going to end soon. Movable Type was the de facto standard before WordPress came along (coupled with that period where they charged for the software) and became the more popular option. Movable Type isn’t going to go down without a fight, I can tell you that, but WordPress is a few steps ahead. They’ve built a strong community during their time as Blogging Script of Choice, and the architecture is better. To quote the article:

WordPress is entirely developed in PHP, while Movable Type uses a mix of PHP and Perl (but mostly Perl).

Though there are a lot of Perl fanatics out there, PHP is, in my opinion, a better language for web publishing, and is easier for newbies to grasp. Movable Type has some cool features that WordPress doesn’t, but it’s reliance on Perl is a major handicap.

  • http://nhseo.com Brandon Henricks

    Good post, and yes this type of comparison will forever be going on. I personally like WordPress. I am running 2.6 on my blogs and I can’t get enough of it.WordPress with a few plugins like headspace can make for a very SEO effective blog.

  • http://www.anildash.com/ Anil

    Hey Matt, thanks for the post. I work with the MT team, so it’s always a little disappointing when people focus on thinking of blogging as some kind of horserace instead of a chance to get more people communicating online. That being said, I think there’s a few points here worth communicating.

    First, I don’t think regular users care what language their programs are written in. People don’t choose an iPhone over a Windows Mobile phone because it’s got apps written in Objective C and the Windows apps are in C#. Similarly, people choose Movable Type because it’s got more features built-in that don’t need plugins, because it handles high traffic better, because it natively handles an unlimited number of blogs and authors, or because it has a proven track record of better security.

    I don’t think there’s any objective authority who would argue WordPress has a better architecture. There are many experts at this sort of thing who’d probably argue WordPress has *no* architecture. There’s no separation of executable code and templates, opening the door for huge potential security issues. There’s the barest layer of plugin APIs, prohibiting WP plugins from providing deep integration throughout the application while still being forward-compatible in the way that MT plugins are. WordPress supports only one database, Movable Type supports every popular database platform. WordPress URLs take a heroic effort to be SEO-friendly on Windows servers — Movable Type blogs on Windows servers just work.

    More to the point, focusing the argument on things like programming languages perpetuates the idea that blogging is for geeks, by geeks. It’s exclusionary to the community of new voices and new ideas that we should all be striving to include. And I say that as someone who’s made a living in the past by coding up a PHP content management system.

    I’m confident the momentum we’ve got of more and more people choosing Movable Type for their sites will continue — if they’re not tired of the upgrade fatigue and constant security battles with WordPress, they’re tired of being jealous of MT users getting support for OpenID or Action Streams or Fire Eagle or, as we just announced, integration with Facebook Connect. Or they’re simply tired of being asked to pay for proprietary, closed-source services like Akismet when superior, open source free options like TypePad AntiSpam exist on the market for free and come built in with Movable Type.

    But the thing is, what matters is getting new people blogging. The best way to evaluate platforms is by judging the values that their developers try to demonstrate. I think, by its very design, WordPress says that you should be an individual blogger with one blog who wants to learn PHP if you want to change the look of your blog. Movable Type is designed to say we can all be parts of sites that incorporate many voices, and many blogs, all in one place but connected to all of the other places we participate online.

    Oh, and yeah, you can make plugins for Movable Type in PHP if you want to, too. :)

  • http://blogbuildingu.com/ Hendry Lee

    Matt, thanks for mentioning my post, I really appreciate that.I recalled a few years ago when working as a Linux sysadmin, Perl is an indispensable tool. Nowadays, I have to admit PHP is a winner. Even with hosting service that includes “all in one”, I find it rare that it has all the Perl modules needed to support the entire MT features. But to be fair those features are not  necessary though.WP, on the other hand, works in (every?) platform out of the box. That’s very important for beginners, I’d say.

  • http://www.webmaster-source.com Matt

    @Hendry, I have to say I agree with that.

    @Anil, Personally, I don’t really care what platform a blogger uses. I prefer WordPress myself for a number of reasons, and there are obviously many who prefer MT. I’m not a big fan of all of the “smack-talk” going on between the two camps, but I think Hendry’s post was a pretty fair comparison. I agree that the important thing is to get more people blogging.

  • Gregg

    @ Hendry

    Installing the perl modules for MT was as easy as:

    yum install perl*

    This is the RedHat version but you get the idea. Just because a distro has the PHP checkbox ticked on install doesn’t make your argument valid.

  • MT – buh bye

    As a person who just did a new MT install, the process reminded me when I began my career in 2000. No current instructions, outdated documentation, can only find pieces of answers to your question (how to install this on W2k3) on various postings, most postings are very old anyway (2003-2005), all of which makes it very difficult for anyone to get there feet wet.

    The MT windows instructions are OLD (over a year and a half), ActivePerl has changed to 5.10 and does NOT have all the modules necessary to make MT work (DBD-mysql anyone? Oh, it's in a different repository now), there are numerous missing steps and I have to agree 100% with this guy (Wow! What a pain in the ash) http://www.pixelbath.com/blog/2008/11/movable-typ

  • MT-buh bye

    And I still can't get ImageMagick installed. Why in the hell do I have to compile and create my own files to install? If MT is serious about getting in the game with mainstream users they have to do a better job than this. I don't really give a rats butt about Linux vs Windows except I use windows 'casue it's what I do, so MT make this thing usable for windows peeps. What is the percentage of *inx to Windows users today? Oh, that's right! That doesn't matter to the LAMP heads.

    Windows sux, huh? Gonna stick it to them and make them fry their brains like when I was a Java software engineer? Well guess what I quit that job because I don't want to bury my head in code all day long, and I am quitting MT and going to WordPress. Hopefully it will be better in WP land than MT. MT, get your head out of your code and remember it's the user community who makes you what you are, not being stuck in geekdom and putting ordinary users through the pain you suffered through to create this.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/redwall_hp redwall_hp

    The *nix bashing wasn't entirely necessary, especially since a very large percentage of servers are *nix servers, but when it comes to MT, I hear ya. :)

  • http://www.jorgebucaran.com Jorge Bucaran

    @Anil I don't want to sound naive but I think is not so much about architecture or features anymore but about something that may sound trivial at first but it is not in fact. WordPress is way cooler than Moveable Type in the same way Apple is cooler than Microsoft. I wouldn't dare to argue against Microsoft VS Apple software but one thing I am sure the majority would agree is on which one is cooler and I think the same happens with MT and WordPress. WordPress is cooler.

  • dee

    i have to agree with @Jorge.

    i don't know what the hell all this techno-web jargon is. all i know is that wordpress just works and has a lot of cool people in the community. tricking out my blog is easy. MT on the other hand has a lot of steps involved, and finding cool people who help for free is hard to come by. if MT had partner web hosts clearly listed on their site, with one-click installation and easy help like WP, they might get more bloggers and less engineers.