Movable Type Beta 4

Six apart has been working on a new version of their popular Movable Type blog publishing platform. I’ve been experimenting a bit with the betas of version 4 and so far am finding no big issues.


Using Movable Type for my blog in some ways is a bit like hosting a small dinner party in a 200-person banquet hall. The software offers dozens of features that I’ll likely never use and I suspect if you have multiple blogs with several commenters for each you’d get more out of the program. Still, this is the package I selected a couple years ago and like that old saying about leaving things that are not busted alone, I continue to use Movable Type because it is working.


One thing that has been a nice touch in version 4 of Movable Type is what I believe is a new installation wizard. I know when I installed version 3 of the software, there was a requirement to edit some configuration files manually. In version 4, you need only unpack the archive of the program, upload to your web host, ensure you have a database created and then navigate to a web address to complete all configuration tasks. A quick start guide and helpful error messages during the installation wizard are available to resolve the majority of common errors. Database creation is typically no more than completing a web form in your web hosting control area. From the time I kicked off the download of beta 4 until I had my test blog up, it was no more than 10 minutes.


From an accessibility perspective, Movable Type continues what to me is a history of being quite functional with a screen reader. Blog and administrative templates use list and heading tags effectively to make page navigation very efficient. Using the web user interface for posting is still easy as well. There have been a few cases of missing alt text and I’ve reported those as bugs to the developers. Perhaps the one concern I have is around one of the listed new features for dealing with spam detailed on the release page.


28. Built-in support for integrated spam fighting and optionally displaying a CAPTCHA for comments


I’m not sure if this feature’s been added or not in the betas yet. Hunting around I haven’t found it thus far but what I wonder about is if there will be any sort of audio option. CAPTCHAs are still a big problem for accessibility. While I wouldn’t turn this on for my own blog, I suspect many will and then folks who do not see will again have challenges.


As just one example, I may not want to reveal my disability in some blog communities where I’m commenting but if the site uses this technology I’d likely have to, at least to the blog owner to get some sort of automatic commenting approval. Again I’ve not found how this feature is actually implemented so my concerns are more of a question as this time.


Thus far Movable Type beta 4 seems to be working well. It isn’t ready for production use just yet, but watch for it to come to this blog when it is released.

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