MUniversity of Minnesota

September 10, 2003

Why We Chose Movable Type

Staff of the Digital Library Development Lab of the University Libraries inspected a wide variety of blogging software before settling on Movable Type. I would like to point out that while our first efforts will center around Movable Type, this does not mean that we are definitely going to go with this software package. We still need to make sure that we can modify it in order to suit our purposes. We need to make sure that the faculty, staff, and students will easily be able to set up, modify, use, etc. their own blogs using Movable Type. Please keep checking back for more posts regarding exactly what we are trying to accomplish.

We have inspected other blogging software applications, most notably Manila from Userland Software. This is the blogging software that Harvard is using for their project. While this software would work, and while it is relatively easy to set up and use, it is also highly proprietary. The software is written in a proprietary language, and it appears the underlying database is also difficult to manipulate. It is also relatively expensive compared to Movable Type (which is free). Given these drawbacks we decided to look for something open source, or a software package that we could modify to suit our needs.

Movable Type definitely fits the bill. It is open source; it is written in Perl and the underlying database is MySQL. It is also highly configurable both from a programming standpoint and a user standpoint. And speaking of users, it probably has the biggest user base of any blogging software. However, is it easy to use? Can we modify it enough to make it easy enough to use for the beginner, while at the same time powerful enough for the experienced blogger?

Our first order of business will be to attempt to wrap it around our campus x.500 authentication system. It is our goal to allow people to create and/or modify their own individual blog using the same Internet ID and Password they use to view email. The question is, can we reprogram Movable Type to easily allow for the creation of new blogs in this manner? According to their own documentation Movable Type can host more than one blog. Theoretically we should be able to reprogram it to allow for unmediated creation of new blogs on a single installation of the software. Of course, there are many issues associated with this effort from programming, to graphic design and usability, to policy issues.

So stay tuned. There is a lot to work on and decide.

Posted by snackeru at September 10, 2003 04:17 PM