A Closer Look at Movable Type 4 beta
After being a little mean in my quick link (and being called out for it), I decided to take a closer look at the newly released Movable Type 4 beta to see if this is a monumental shift that could rattle those WordPressians or ExpressionEnginites into switching over.
The first thing I noticed in downloading the beta was file size. It weighed in at a hefty 4MB compared to under 1MB for WordPress and just over 1MB for ExpressionEngine. Even scarier was realizing that there were over 1600 files contained within that compressed file. Suffice it to say, it took awhile to upload to my web server (I should've downloaded it directly to the web server!).
Loading up the install, I was mightily impressed by the new look and feel. Mind you, I was pretty happy with what they had there before. I've always felt it was better than WordPress. The setup process is a little more complicated than WordPress in that you'll need to have a little technical knowledge to complete the installation process (like, choosing between sendmail and SMTP). All-in-all, the installation went smoothly.
Interestingly, I noticed they're using Candara, which comes off looking pretty sharp. The interface is a huge departure, for the most part, from what was in version 3. Right off the bat, you'll notice the Flash graph that highlights the number of comments, entries, and tags (courtesy of Measure Map).
Hopping into creating an article, I was also very impressed with the look and feel of the default WYSIWYG editor. For those who want choice, you can also do Markdown, Markdown with SmartyPants and Textile 2.
The file and image upload features were probably my least favourite part of the editing process. Right off the bat, I discovered I couldn't close the image dialog unless I refreshed the page or uploaded an image. The dialog is also extremely slow to load (it's Ajax!!!). All files and images that get uploaded are stored in an 'organizer' that you can go into separate from the entry editing process. The upload process is also much nicer making it easier to understand where files were getting put in the site structure.
I also didn't much like the drop down menus. I find them distracting very quickly and can sometimes be a pain to get at what I want (like wanting to click on the home icon and having the blog menu drop down over top of it).
Some of the other big things that the MT folks are pushing is the registration system, allowing users to log in using a number of different systems like Vox and OpenID.
Editing pages also felt more intuitive, even though I sense that not much has really changed in this regard since version 3. Sometimes an interface change is all that's needed to make a feature more worthwhile (I'd put the recent Google Analytics redesign in the same category).
Same ol', same ol
Unfortunately, I didn't really feel like much get added besides a new interface and better registration. Many of the more interesting features, like being able to clone a blog, are being handled by plugins, many of which were already available for MT3.
Spam protection seems unchanged. I fear how much spam wouldn't be caught by it in comparison to what I have now.
It's also still Perl at its core. This is one area that I think turns off developers. Not that PHP is a dream to program in but more people know PHP than Perl.
While the interface is very nice and there are some nice new features, I think they still have a long way to go before it'd convince anybody from switching back.