Goodbye Melody, Hello WordPress

Leeds Station

It is with something of a heavy heart that I’ve decided to abandon Melody and move the blog to WordPress.

Long time readers will find this as a surprise – in the past, I’ve defended Movable Type when I’ve felt it under attack from WordPress ‘zealots’. Back then, WordPress was the new kid on the block, whilst Movable Type was much more established. Today, however, the situation has changed, and this is why I’ve made the change.

I left Movable Type earlier this year for a few reasons. Firstly, after trying Movable Type 5, I found it was aimed at large, professional blogs and not personal blogs like mine. The 4.3x line is still being maintained with security updates – MT 4.36 came out last week – but not with new features.

I hoped that Melody would provide a good continuation of MT 4.3x. Unfortunately I’m not that impressed – whilst it has improved some aspects of Movable Type, it hasn’t been the major step forward that I’d hoped it be. Furthermore, a number of plugins that I found really useful in MT didn’t work properly (or at all) in Melody, and as some of them were several years old and seemingly abandoned by their authors there was a slim chance of this happening.

It’s well known that the past few years has seen Movable Type stagnate. When I first started using it in 2002, there was a very active community developing plugins and themes for the platform. But this community has all but died out, and despite the best intentions of the Open Melody group it hasn’t re-ignited. The MT community is, basically, dead.

WordPress is where the community is. Whilst blogging in general is past its prime, WordPress still has a large number of themes and plugins which work with the latest version, plus active support forums. The documentation has even improved.

I’ve also changed. I don’t revel in spending all night adding new features and installing plugins. I want a blogging system that just works.

What made me choose WordPress is taking over administration for the web site for one of the student groups that some friends are involved in; this previously used WordPress and rather than try to shoe-horn it into Melody I decided to stick with it. The system proved to much easier, more manageable and more slick than MT or Melody ever was. Upgrades, in particular, were very easy. So having used it for a while, a few hours ago I decided to migrate this blog too.

Getting the blog up and running in WordPress has been pretty easy – the import process from Melody was quite straightforward and work fine. I’ve then spent no more than a couple of hours trying some themes and getting the configuration in place. Despite being a completely different system, migrating from Melody to WordPress has taken about the same time as Movable Type to Melody.

The current theme is somewhat temporary – I haven’t yet decided on a final one. In the meantime I’d welcome any comments you may have.

More Melodic

Rochdale Canal

For the first time in over 8 years, this blog is not running on Movable Type. Because I’ve migrated to Melody.

Announced in June 2009, Melody is a fork of Movable Type 4 maintained by volunteers, many of whom formerly worked for Six Apart (MT’s original developer). It carries on in the same direction as MT version 4, rather than the very enterprise-focussed MT version 5 which is now being developed by a Japanese company called Infocom.

Because of its common heritage with MT, you can switch to Melody by installing it over Movable Type, and then simply tidying up the bits that are no longer needed – there’s a handy migration guide, too. It’ll keep all of your blogs, comments and settings.

Because Melody is new, and not quite ready for a 1.0 release, there are a few minor issues still and the admin interface still looks like it needs a little polish. In particular, a number of plugins no longer work; for now, you won’t have to type the word ‘ball’ when commenting and you won’t be able to log in using your Facebook account, but hopefully new versions of those plugins will surface soon.

If you see any other funkiness, let me know.

Melody

Just recently announced is Melody, a new open source content management system based around the blog concept that is derived from Movable Type, the software that has powered this site for nearly 7 years. It has been developed with Six Apart’s blessing, and by several former 6A employees; its development is guided by the Open Melody Software Group which counts Anil Dash from 6A as one of its directors.

The system will stay API-compatible with MT, so that plugins will still work, but may drop support for lesser used features like Trackback and PostgreSQL databases (Update: These may be spun off into plugins, not dropped altogether – see comments). Focus will be on improving development and support of weblog themes (which has always been a little clunky in MT), but ultimately the aim is to generate a community around Melody which guides the development process. MT will stay on as a product of 6A, and while there will be some code-swapping between the two Melody is essentially a fork.

It all sounds like good news and I wish the team every success with the development of Melody – once a more stable release is available I may well switch to it. WordPress has, rightly or wrongly, stolen the limelight from MT in recent years so a proper, community-driven open source alternative could pull users back to the MT/Melody platform.

(Incidentally the default user name for a new MT installation is ‘Melody’ – not sure whether that was used as an inspiration or not)