Maybe MT 3.0 Isn’t Such a Bad Idea After All

I just got back from what frankly was a terrible client meeting regarding an intranet blog project I’ve been working on. A side effect of the meeting is that I’m now seriously rethinking my initial skepticism regarding Movable Type 3.0 and the new licensing pricing.

I’ve been implementing a MovableType-powered intranet for a major corporation. The project had been going fairly smoothly up until now, pushed ahead by a business executive at the company as a cheap and easy way to help executives and directors in the company communicate more efficiently than through the current use of listservs and Exchange servers.

So far so good. Then we had a pre-release check-in with the company’s IT department. That’s when all hell broke loose.

The conversation went something like this:

IT: Has legal signed on for this?

Me: Legal?

IT: Everything in the blog will need to be discoverable in a lawsuit.

Me: Ummm.

IT: What about the blog passwords. I assume they’ll be synchronized with the users’ systemwide network passwords.

Me: Ummm.

IT: And the categories you’re using. They’re pulled from our LDAP server?

You get the idea. The unfortunate truth is that in the age of shrinking IT budgets, Sarbanes-Oxley, and rampant corporate litigation large companies simply can’t do things “cheap and easy.” And version 2.6 of MT was the poster child for cheap and easy.

While I still don’t agree with the personal licensing fees for MT, I’ve got to hand it to them for the insightful strategy behind their $20,000 developers contest. Basically, my terrible meeting taught me that just as MT 2.6 was often made much more useful to individuals and small companies by the simple plug-ins available, MT 3.0 will only be able to penetrate the corporate market through extension by professional developers.

Here are some of the extensions I’d like to see:

Version Control and Archiving
Keeps a copy of every version of every post, even those deleted by users. Allows administrators to review diffs, revert when required, and keyword search paper trails when legally necessary.

Posting Administration
A common request on the MT message boards, this allows for certain users to be designated writers and others editors. Writers cannot post to the live site, editors must approve the articles before publishing. This is a common requirement in content management systems and MT’s lack of this functionality will quickly knock it off the consideration list in many instances.

Username and Password Syncing
This solves the biggest administration nightmare for a corporate IT department by syncing or authenticating MT sessions using existing directories such as Kerebos or Active Directory.

File Upload Filtering
Sends all file uploads through a server-side filtering program to block viruses and other malicious code. (Note, this is probably possible already through non-MT interfaces.)

If I was 10x the programmer maybe I’d tackle some of these projects and take my shot at the 20 grand. But I’m not, so maybe this post will inspire someone and help MT justify their new price tag.

Comments from the Old Blog

MT LDAP lookup:

Posted by: Matt Haughey on May 18, 2004 6:53 PM

Curt Siffert has already written a version control plug-in. It doesn’t work *exactly* as you specified, but it’s very close.

Posted by: dansays on May 19, 2004 10:48 AM

What you asking/looking for is not blog then..more like a content management system. I done the same for my own internal organization using MT initially and we switch to a proper CMS very quickly after similar requests pops-up.

You might want to take a a look at Drupal which already has version control, moderation, voting and tons of other third party plugins (modules).

For individual bloggers, you can look at my distro Drupal for Bloggers

Posted by: James Seng on June 11, 2004 10:39 PM

The client in question doesn’t ‘get it’.

Send them a link to the cluetrain manifesto and tell them to call you back when they understand it, or never if they don’t.

Big companies CAN deploy this stuff. I work for one that does. I’m not alone. You just ran into some stuffed shirts who lack essential clues (and possibly brains+balls to do something with them in their org).

If Legal really has that power — and they really think drawing content categories from a centralized resource (LDAP) is better than letting them bubble up from the bottom (pool of human beings doing actual work), then they’re well on their way to extinction.

Move on.

Posted by: g on July 13, 2004 3:15 PM