Tim Appnel, one of the developers most familiar with Movable Type, provides some interesting perspective about MT 3 (Tim helped us architect and develop some of the things done at MarketingVox, where by the way I’m not active on a day-to-day basis anymore):
"Perhaps 3.0 isn’t deserving of the dot 0 label, but I could argue otherwise so its a grey area. The real problem is that the lack of updates to MT has created an anticipation that did not forsee or properly address through their communications in order to manage these expectations. It is here were the radio silence has been so damaging. I can only hope they see how damn important this is going forward and make it a priority and not an after thought as they have. They make a tool of collaboration and communication after all!"
I’m not an insider like him, but I think I can reverse-engineer what happened and not miss the mark entirely (feel free to contradict me):
- Sometime last year Six Apart, seeing the success of its largerly self-organized developer community, decided to focus on growing the platform side of MT, as opposed to its product side. I gather that decision took some time to be internalized and formalized, and in the meantime everyone was left hanging dry with the expectation of an MT Pro feature-driven release. This longer-term bet makes sense, especially for a multiple-seeking VC-funded business, plus it’s harder to catch up with an established platform as opposed to blogging software (yes, barriers to entry — new blogging tools seems to pop up every other week, and they’re rather competitive as it’s always easier from a clean slate, and it’s not like a blog CMS is rocket science).
- Scalability, availability and security are features. Just ask Microsoft, or closer to Six Apart, Blogger, which almost didn’t add any visible feature in two years (i.e. forever) but at the same time added hundreds of thousands of users. Typepad doesn’t have a free product so the numbers are an order of magnitude smaller, but still the service is successful which means you need to ramp it up. The benefit to the end-user is invisible until things break down (my girlfriend uses Typepad on a daily basis, so I’m aware of uptime or lack of). On that record Typepad has been running well, but there’s no doubt this required resources. Add a couple of roadbumps such as comment spamming, and you’re basically recoding the same software again and again to keep it working properly.
- Typepad was the main focus for a while, as it can generate cashflow more quickly. There was simply not much attention span available for MT.
- Hiring and ramping people up is very time consuming, and adding more developers to a project doesn’t shorten time to delivery.