Jun Kaneko at the MT Meetup in London

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It was a day with typical rainy London weather as I arrived at the restaurant where we had arranged to meet.  I quickly spotted Adam Tinworth and Matt Carey near the entrance, and a short while later Anu Gupta joined us.  We sat down at a table and did what all MT users do when they have some time to spare...
... we kvetched like old wives about all the real and imagined past mistakes Six Apart has made :-)  Generally the feeling was that there was an aura of 'legacyness' around MT and that the lack of activity on the official websites was not projecting a good image right now, especially with the acquisition.

At this point, Jun entered the restaurant.  He apologized for being late: he had been waiting for us at another restaurant of the same chain before realizing his mistake.

IMAG0522.jpg
Matt and Jun

The next hours went by in a flash, as Jun talked and talked about the past and future of Movable Type.  Let me try and reconstruct from my notes what was said, even though I'm probably missing some bits.

He started out with a little bit of history and the fact that most of the development on MT has been done in Japan for over a year now.  The decision to move it there was a logical one, since the ecosystem around Movable Type in Japan is quite unique and different from the rest of the world.

MT license sales make up a substantial part of the revenue for Six Apart KK ('KK' is the Japanese equivalent of 'Ltd', by the way).  Not only are there direct sales, but affiliate/partnership sales as well.  Hundreds of integrators offer MT to their clients, and several partners offer enterprise-grade applications built on top of MT, along with dozens of smaller applications from yet other partners.

Besides this 'commercial' community there are also many 'hobby' users and developers using the software and contributing to the community.  No less than six books about MT 5 alone were currently in print.

Unfortunately, due to the language barrier, preciously little of all of this has made it into the wider world, even though efforts are underway to make more of it happen.

With respect to the acquisition of Six Apart and the new SAY Media company, we learned that Six Apart KK used to be a 100% owned subsidiary of Six Apart and will remain the same under SAY Media.  The difference is that now all MT related activity in the entire world will be driven and managed from Japan, which sure sounded like a good thing: MT is still in the hands of people who care!

Movable Type development and support will continue, and the revenue from the Japanese ecosystem is definitely big enough to support it.   So any rumors about the death of MT have again been proven too hasty.

The current team in Japan has three developers, one designer, three QA engineers and three sales engineers.  And they have plans to hire more.

This new clarity of who is responsible for all things MT will probably be a good thing for the English-speaking MT community too.  Before, Six Apart KK was mostly responsible for the Japanese community only, relying on the rest of the company to deal with community aspects in their own regions.  Throw in a few language barriers and a different focus, and it is not hard to see why not much seemed to be happening outside of Japan.

Jun showed a genuine desire to re-energize the community outside of Japan, and many good suggestions were made around the table about how to do that.  Better documentation, a more active website, more support for people willing to learn about the platform, a clearer licensing structure...  A lot of these things are on the table and I have a feeling they will be worked on soon.

Some other small tidbits:
  • MT 5.1 beta is planned early this winter
  • Another MT 4.x maintenance release is coming soon
  • There is active talk with the Melody people about collaborating and sharing code/features
  • The distinction between the MTOS and Pro versions of MT will probably remain in existence so as not to threaten the revenue stream from licensing that is paying for much of the development
If any of the other participants want to add their recollections below, feel free to use the comment form!  I'm heading to bed now...

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11 Comments

Maarten, thanks for the great report. Good to see that Jun is traveling the world and keeping the MT community alive.

Maarten,

Thank you very much for your coordination, it was great to talk with all of you. It was indeed very inspiring. See you soon and continue discussion online !

Hello Ginger-san,

It is great to hear from you ! I would love to visit San Francisco soon :)

> There is active talk with the Melody people about collaborating and sharing code/features

So what's interesting is that there were recent comments on the Melody mailing list that seemed to contradict this. At the very least the comments about not trusting Six Apart to collaborate or share suggest that this conversation is not happening at the present time.

Just my impression of course.

I'm on MT5 for my personal resources so it's not like I can fork those over to Melody in any case. For now I'll be sticking with Moveable Type which I still prefer hugely to WordPress for too many reasons to elucidate.

The Melody project core team isn't clear about the chasm between MT4 and MT5 (some of its members are clearly against the direction taken by 6AKK with MT5, even dismissing it as "useless", some just want to keep MT4 alive through Melody) and until that is clarified, I really do not see any productive synergy between 6AKK and Melody, because MT5 is the one and only direction that makes business sense for 6AKK.

It better goes with saying: I am not dismissing the Melody Project. I'm just questioning its lack of vision. In one year 6AKK has shipped several versions of MT5.0 and is about the ship a beta of MT5.1. In the meantime, the Melody Project has shipped nothing and is still avoiding the question of the divide with MT5, and where exactly it wants to go.

Skooter,

I believe that there are actual collaboration such like these threads.

http://www.sixapart.com/pipermail/mtos-dev/2010-August/004179.html
http://www.sixapart.com/pipermail/mtos-dev/2010-September/004249.html

These are the the live source codes already shared with MT4.x, MT5.x and Melody.
I understand that there are many opinions among the community, and I think that it's a very healthy thing. I appreciate any comment to address the issue in MT5, and make it even better.

Maarten, thanks for promptly posting about your get-together with Jun.

I suspect that this development will make it simpler for 6AKK to now move more aggressively in supporting the Movable Type community outside of Japan. There certainly is a customer base waiting for them to dedicate more resources to translating material available in Japanese to English.

I'd still like to see a simple blogger's guide to Upgrading from MT4 to MT5, that explains just what to do for those who do not need the complexity of the website level provided in MT5. And have that featured prominently somewhere on movabletype.org. It would probably cut down on some of the frustration expressed in the MT forums.

Congratulations for the event and for its outcome!

I would have gladly joined you guys, but I could due to the very short notice.

Next time if you announce such a meeting 2-3 weeks earlier, I would love to see you all and talk movable type :)

Funny that, after almost a decade using Blogger, I chose this year to switch to Movable Type. I don't regret the decision, but now I care more about this change than I would have earlier. I hope it works out. There has been very little mention of that venerable software in Say Media's discussion, but for various reasons I need to maintain an installation on my own server, and MT best meets my needs now.

I was pleased to see a 5.03 update (minor as it is), but I also don't see how well a personal blogger running MT fits into the new Say Media strategy. Then again, it was hard to see how it fit into Six Apart recently, even if it was how the company started. I'll remain optimistic, plan to continue using Movable Type, and keep my options open. But I'd like to hear something from Say Media (on THEIR website and at MovableType.com, where even the post about the new company didn't mention MT itself!) about plans for the product.

So far, Jun is the only person from Six Apart KK, Say Media, or Six Apart who seems to have said anything at all about Movable Type, which is discouraging. I've posted some longer discussion over at my blog, which uses MT5:

http://www.penmachine.com/2010/09/six-apart-say-media-movable-type

Hey Maarten, Matt, Adam, Anu, Jun

I would have loved to join this group meeting on MT if this had coincided during one of my usual trips to London. Would have been nostalgic talking about MT.

Sad to hear about Six Apart acquisition & fate of MT. But I am sure that MT will survive even after this..

Look forward to catching up with you all over phone sometime in near future.

Cheers,

Khaid

Hey Maarten, any truth to the rumor that they're going to sell off Six Apart in Japan to a large holding company?

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