WordPress 2.3 is out. The release is significant because it has some heavy changes in the schema, to natively support better taxonomy and tagging. I assume that the inherent support for tagging would also make it faster than through the plugins. It also has better support for canonical URLs.
The significance of this WordPress release has drawn some reaction from Movable Type camps. Jesse Gardner gives 10 points why bloggers should use Movable Type 4 instead of WordPress 2.3 (via CMS Wire). They are of course comparable, but is MT superior? I have my own reasons for this question.
Jesse’s points are based on the difference in approach of MT and WordPress, than any specific absolute features. So it is easy to turn it around. For example, is everything built-in always good? The fact that WordPress requires many plugins is good, because that means that the core of WordPress remains light. You can play around more with the plugins, and use more combinations. Also, if you do not need the plugins, you stay with the light-weight WordPress core. In fact this is one of the reasons why WordPress is flexible enough to suit many non-blog web sites. But there are some other reasons where I see WordPress score better.
Earlier the biggest reason was the MT was not open source, it has been open sourced in the recent version. But it is not only about being open source, it is about being open to contributions from the community. Six Apart still requires copyright assignment for contributions to be accepted. While this might just be another formality, it is going to shed doubts in the user’s mind. One of the best things of WordPress is the number of eyeballs and hands working on it increase everyday. WordPress sure has bugs, like any other software, but the community usually is quicker in identifying and fixing them. WordPress has a well-built open source ecosystem around it. I think MT will take time to gear up to be truly open source, and the growth in WordPress camp is not going to get any slower.
Also, the point about the template tags is not always black and white. By using PHP for both the templates and rest of the code, WordPress makes it easier on the users. In MT it is a case of learning another language of template tags, which are more like self-closing XML tags and either Perl or PHP for rest of the code.
MT still discriminates between the community and the enterprise by offering two different editions. MT still caters to the enterprise differently. This does induce a feeling in the everyday blogger if they are being handed a cheaper deal through the community edition. I know that a lot of products follow this strategy, but I have also seen that clauses like “free for personal use” attract a lot of doubts and a lot of questions. I think WordPress makes adoption easier.
The MT camp keeps bashing WordPress because of its dynamic nature. MT exports the generated HTML files into static ones so that future servings can bypass the web server and avoid scalability problems. Sure, this is one approach. However, WordPress too carries a very effective plugin called wp-cache, which provides similar advantages. The biggest disadvantage of a static serving is that you end up rebuilding all the pages when you change any of your template code. wp-cache, I feel, gives a better balance of auto-expiring cache. Do not wonder how many high-traffic sites like TechCrunch use WordPress.
WordPress also has some terrrific featuers, like flexible feed customization, which makes it easier to get a customized feed for yourself. The template heirarchy can be very effectively used to either build explicit templates or build a minimal site using just one template file. The flexible permalink setup and a facility to add custom permalink tags makes it pretty much open to everything. THe new canonical URL feature also makes it easier to now change the permalink and still not have any broken URLs. I am not sure if this is as easy with MT.
I grant that Movable Type is a good blogging system. It is being used by big blogs and web sites around. This is because it has some very good features and its approach is suitable there. It definitely scores higher in features like search.
However, for the everyday blogger, WordPress is simpler and easier, not only in the design, but even in the license and legal language. WordPress is one of the ideal tools where you start hacking around, and realize that this can be used for many bigger things, without having to worry about editions and licenses. If I find someone asking me about starting a blog, I am still going to recommend WordPress.