Movable Type is a husband-wife team that in October 2001 first made available their weblog software via the World Wide Web. Ben and Mena Trott describe their software as a "web-based personal publishing system." Of course, the name they chose for their product quite nicely relates web publishing to Gutenberg's printing press of more than 500 years ago. That's a powerful association, and one that is well-deserved.

Through 2000 and early 2001, Blogger was the visible leader in blogging, garnering much laudatory press and many thousands of new users. But the company behind Blogger, Pyra, burned through its funding, and the creative group behind Blogger dispersed. Only co-founder Evan Williams remained to run the service. [edit: Search engine company Google purchased Pyra and Blogger in February 2003, enflaming discussion within the blogosphere and in major newspapers about the potential opening-up of the blogging realm to the greater web public.] Experienced bloggers began to convert their weblogs from remote-hosted Blogger to server-side software such as Greymatter and Movable Type.

The Movable Type software is freely available at To use Movable Type, one must install the software on the server that hosts the person's website. This process of installing and configuring the Movable Type software can be confusing to a user with little experience with Perl scripts or directory permissions. The Trotts, though, provide documentation (installation instructions and a user manual) that is both detailed and clearly written.

Still, users have questions. So, includes a Support Forum (using the freeware ikonboard), and it is here that new users of Movable Type first encounter the community behind Movable Type. On this bulletin board, novices and pros interact, sharing hints, tips, tutorials and links to previous solutions. Ben and Mena are present, but so too are other forum administrators and frequent contributors.

The Support Forum includes a Request a Feature board, where MT users share their ideas for future features of the software. The Trotts have incorporated numerous of these requests, and other users frequently suggest alternative tools or solutions. As of version 2.1, MT allows for plugins, small software patches designed by users. These plugins provide additional functionality to the software, such as Adam Kalsey's MTAmazon plugin for populating a blog with information from [Edit: A community of plugin developers provides extra features both nimble and powerful.] In version 2.5, the Trotts incorporated one plugin, MT-Search, into the main code, and they credit Jay Allen with the contribution.

Here's what Ben and Mena had to say on the anniversary of MT:

"Thanks to our beta-testers, plugin developers, active members of our support forums and all other contributors. You do a tremendous job making the Movable Type community thrive and flourish. We're honored to have such an intelligent group of people devoted to helping others and providing resources that, quite frankly, make the software better."

Monetary contributions are an important function of the MT community. While the MT software is freely available, users are asked to donate to the Trott's efforts. A donation of $20 or more is rewarded with a unique key that a user adds to his/her MT code. Whenever this user updates his/her blog, the name of that blog is displayed in the Recently Updated Movable Type Blogs list on the index page. This Recently Updated list provides the community of users with tempting links to other blogs (because bloggers often copy designs and share code), and is successful at promoting communion between the writers, photographers and web designers that inhabit this community.

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