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Movable Type 4.0 Beta

Since its debut in 2001, Movable Type has been regarded as a professional-level blogging solution, with many features that have been adopted by other programs (like the TrackBack function). Despite its wide-ranging capacities, free services like Blogger, LiveJournal (now owned by Movable Type's parent company SixApart), and the open-source blogging system WordPress have kept Movable Type from really striding into the foreground. But its core of dedicated users (me included) and developers have stuck with it, and now are rushing to try out the just-released beta of Movable Type 4.0.

It was worth the wait. MT 4 sports a radically reworked interface and internal API, a new open-source licensing option (earlier MT editions were commercial, or free but closed-source), and functions that make MT work more like a full-blown content-management system. The beta was and still is rough -- the first iteration was amazingly buggy -- but it's already gone through a few rounds of fixups that incorporate many community-developed features and make it into a usable product instead of just a "technology preview."

Movable Type 4.0's user interface, a total overhaul from previous versions, puts far more of the program at your disposal with far fewer clicks.

(Click image to enlarge.)

The differences between the new beta and the current version of MT (3.32) are immediately obvious, even in beta. The installation process has been cleaned up and streamlined -- you still need to understand things like UNIX permissions and how to unpack archives on the target server, but getting connected to your database and importing an existing MT blog is far easier. A newly-created MT 4 setup comes with a sample blog and some other predefined settings, which makes it a little easier to wrap your head around how things work if you're a newcomer.

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