Seeing the maintenance of a Movable Type publishing infrastructure as the first responsibility in a job description shows the transformation that's happened. We've come a long way from "I hope the new IT hire knows a little bit of HTML, too." And whether you're interested in hanging out with scientist at AIBS, or working for a major media company, or bootstrapping an up-and-coming new blog network, we're working to make sure that having "Experience with Movable Type" on your resume is something that distinguishes you from the rest of the field.
- Maintaining and extending several Movable Type and PHP-based Web sites featuring science and biology-oriented content
- Managing a junior staff member who's primary foci are end-user support for a staff of 15-30 and Web site maintenance
- Serving as IT Department liaison to Department Managers (3-5) in the headquarters office, working to understand needs, propose effective solutions, arrive at consensus, and implement
- Manage (and assist with management of) relationships/contracts with vendors supporting technology infrastructure for the headquarters office, and vendors assisting with technology project implementation
- Assuming responsibility for technology infrastructure maintenance and growth for non-IT staff
Learning Movable Type isn’t just today’s Movable Type Featured blog, it’s a cornerstone of our community and one of the best resources that exists for, well, learning Movable Type.
Elise Bauer has been maintaining the site for years as an indispensable reference for all of us who spend our days working and playing with the platform. Along with her collaborators Jesse Gardner and Arvind Satyanarayan (whom you might remember from our post a couple of weeks ago), Elise has been posting tutorials and how-tos that explain even the most technical concepts in perfectly understandable plain English.
But what’s really exciting is what the team’s done now: They haven’t just redesigned the site, they’ve reimagined it, as a truly community-driven effort. Everyone in the community who has something to share is welcome to publish their articles on the site and become a contributor. Most fittingly, Learning Movable Type shows off what Movable Type itself can really do: check out the smart organization of the site, grouped by topic (categories) or by subject (tags) or by contributor (authors). And new technology features like a community search make it easy to find the best Movable Type resources, regardless of where they are on the web.
We’re really excited to see the renewed level of energy around the Movable Type community these days, so it’s most appropriate that one of the flagship resources for the community has been reborn. But don’t take our word for it — go check out the all-new Learning Movable Type, maybe even contribute an article of your own, and see exactly what makes the site so special.
Blue Flavor is an established team of expert web developers, with access to every web technology that’s available. But when thePlatform came calling looking for a standards-based redesign that would produce search-engine friendly pages that could be easily updated, Blue Flavor chose Movable Type. We’re always thrilled when members of our Six Apart Professional Network have case studies to share with the community, so we were happy that Nick Finck, Blue Flavor’s Director of User Experience, had a few minutes to talk to us about the project.
Six Apart: So, to get started — who’s Blue Flavor:? I feel like I know you all since many of you have been in the blogging community forever, but maybe everybody doesn’t know the name yet.
Blue Flavor: Blue Flavor is seven people, myself, Brian Fling, D. Keith Robinson, Garrett Murray, Tom Watson, Kevin Tamura and Cyndi Fling. Brian, Keith and I make up the principals. Garrett is both the youngest age wise and employee wise… Sorry, he’s taken, ladies!
Six Apart: Hah! Great. So, the latest project I’ve seen your team launch is thePlatform. Before we get to the site itself — how do you end up in touch with a relatively large company, when you’re such a small (but admittedly well-established!) team?
Blue Flavor: They say it’s all about who you know. In this case, Keith has a pretty good relationship with the client. They knew we did web standards-based design and needed someone to come in and redesign their site the right way.
Six Apart: And the site they asked you to help with is thePlatform. What is it?
Blue Flavor: thePlatform is basically a broadband application service provider. They provide services that businesses use to manage and publish various kinds of broadband media. It’s one of those companies where you see their handiwork all the time as a consumer, but are not directly exposed to the technology. It’s all a seamless experience for you. The focus is mostly on business-to-business communication.
Six Apart: That sounds like a demanding audience — but if they all have broadband and presumably have the latest browsers and things, does it still matter that you’re building with web standards?
Blue Flavor: Of course, standards are always something we need to pay attention to. We always design and build our websites so that they are accessible to all, be it people with older browsers or people with screen readers. We like to layer the advanced technologies so that users who have systems or browsers that do not support those technologies can still access and read the content on the site. Just because the bandwidth may be there for your site’s audience doesn’t mean you should abuse it as a designer or developer.
Six Apart: That makes sense — you have to have technology that works for everyone. Switching gears a little bit, this doesn’t look like a blog, in the traditional sense. But it’s powered by Movable Type. How did you make that choice?
We’ve talked a bit about how remarkable the Movable Type community is, but it’s not just the work that our community does with blogs that makes them special. Take Kevin Shay — he’s a long time expert-level plugin developer, responsible for such cool stuff as BigPAPI, the innovative plugin framework which brought Greasemonkey-style UI plugins to Movable Type, which were later incorporated into the platform itself as Transformer plugins.
But Perl isn’t Kevin’s strongest language: English is. We’re happy to bring you a conversation between Jesse Thorn, host of The Sound of Young America, and the other Kevin Shay, Professional Network star, Movable Type user, and author of the recently released The End as I Know It. Kevin’s book, set in 1999, is a brilliantly observed, hysterical, and ultimately moving look at a man who’s both terrified of, and invigorated by, the pre-millennial hysteria about the Y2K bug.
Take a couple minutes and find out why, as happy as we are about the plugins Kevin’s created, we’re just as proud to have such a talented author as part of our community.
Use the player above or download the conversation and listen at your convenience.
Rebecca Blood hasn’t just been blogging longer than you, she literally wrote the book on blogging. And one of the things we try to do is share the vast wealth of knowledge that the expert members of the Movable Type community have gained in their years of blogging.
Fortunately, Rebecca’s not just doing that by writing books. Take her fantastic series of interviews of Bloggers on Blogging. From Glenn Reynolds’ work on Instapundit to Heather Armstrong’s blogging on Dooce to Jason Kottke’s venerable Kottke.org, many of the biggest names in blogging talk about what has helped their sites take off, how they use Movable Type to update their sites every day, and other insights that only come from experience.
One of the best examples is the recent interview with Bruce Schneier. His Schneier on Security blog is one of the most popular English-language blogs in the world, and as has been noted, it’s a great example of how a blog can help you build your career. As Rebecca says:
If you’re interested in using your blog to advance your professional reputation, it’s worth studying Bruce’s Blendâ€”blogging, writing, and speakingâ€”to guide your own efforts.
We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for future interviews, and if you find other resources that we should be sharing with the community, just let us know.
Today, Microsoft is making some of their biggest announcements ever -- if you're even remotely interested in technology news, you're going to hear about the launch of Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007. But what you might not know is that these new milestones mark the first time that blogging can really be integrated between Movable Type Enterprise and two of the most popular software platforms in the world.
To be honest, Windows and Office aren't always known for being the most cutting-edge platforms. But at Six Apart, we've got some very cool demos about ways that you can connect these decades-old platforms to the latest innovations in blogging. And you might be surprised to see that even some people who work at Microsoft are using these tools themselves.
Some background: A year ago, we showed off some cool ideas about blogging with Office at the MIX06 conference that Microsoft held in Las Vegas. (There's even video online -- just skip past the showgirl and the Elvis impersonator.) Now the technology demo we showed off last year is something that you can actually deploy.
You see, we're not gonna be happy until every company can have a blog. To get everybody using blogs at work, we have to connect with the tools people are already using. Some of that's already happened -- you can use Movable Type Enterprise with your Oracle database or build templates in Adobe's Dreamweaver. But the big Kahuna of office apps is Office. And Office 2007 is surprisingly good, so it makes it even more attractive to plug it in to the power of blogs.
Okay, enough talk. Let's see what blogging with MT Enterprise and Office 2007 looks like:
- Post to your Movable Type blog right from Microsoft Word. How well does this work? You're reading a post created in Word 2007 right now.
- Publish your Movable Type blog posts in Microsoft Word format. We've been talking about this idea for years, but imagine the potential â€“ if you've got a guy in your office who is afraid of blogs but just wants to get his information delivered on his desk in the format he's used to, now you can do that. What about just publishing each category archive as a Word document, so you can have a single file with all the information about that topic?
- Support for feeds in Outlook 2007. There are tons of things you can do with feeds that get more powerful in Outlook â€“ every tag has its own feed in MT Enterprise, and of course every blog does, too. But you can make feeds across all the blogs in your system, so you can do cool things like having every post tagged â€œimportantâ€ go into a single folder in Outlook, where you can make a macro to turn them into to-dos.
- And lots more. There's all kinds of other opportunities with the new Microsoft platforms. OpenSearch support in IE7 lets you automatically perform searches of your intranet blogs right in your browser. XML-based formats for PowerPoint and Excel mean you can actually pull in live data from your blogs into presentations or spreadsheets. And we're sure the best stuff hasn't even been thought of yet.
More of this kind of integration is on the way; Movable Type Enterprise already integrates with platforms like Microsoft's SQL Server. But we wanted to make sure that, amidst all the other news of the day, nobody misses the fact that two of the most popular software platforms around are finally ready for business when it comes to blogs.
Because lots of high-profile blogs are full of strong opinions and lively debates, people who are less familiar with blogging sometimes worry if they can trust the information they discover on blogs. That’s an inconvenience if you’re an individual blogger, but it’s a serious problem if you’re in the business of helping companies protect their infrastructure and data.
And protection is exactly Symantec’s business. Whether it’s online fraud, spam, or other security risks, Symantec has been leading the conversation for as long as there’s been a need to secure technology. Today, leading a conversation means having a blog, and that’s where the Movable Type-powered Security Response Weblog comes in.
It’s not enough to merely share information about emerging threats, or to detail how Symantec is providing its customers with the tools they need to defend themselves or to better manage their technology deployments. As a voice of the company itself, Symantec’s Security Response blog has to make customers feel as if they can trust the information the blog provides. Symantec achieves this goal with a few simple techniques…
All of us who work with blogs, especially those of us who’ve done it for years, are excited about their potential. We can come up with lots of useful examples of how businesses can benefit from blogs, but sometimes our own enthusiasm gets the best of us.
To put it more succinctly: A lot of folks who are blogging “experts” talk about blogs in a way that scares the hell out of normal business people.
The thing is, lots of business are already interested in blogs. They’ve heard of them, and maybe they have a kid who’s on LiveJournal or a friend who’s got a TypePad blog. So they’re inclined to think positively of blogs. But too often, we use terrible examples or scare stories to convince people how to start blogging, and that’s just not helping our case. A normal manager or decision maker at a business is going to think, “They vilify Kryptonite locks or criticize Dan Rather — that seems a lot riskier than just doing an email newsletter.”
It’s not just the high-profile scare stories, either. Starting a conversation by talking about how blogs are a “revolution” or “will change the way your company works” isn’t going to sound so appealing to a company that’s doing well, where the people in charge aren’t looking to make radical changes. The good news is, you don’t have to work that hard to persuade your company or your clients to adopt blogs; Just present the facts and they’ll make their own case for you.
To get started, some key points that can help you make the case:
- Blogs are an established technology, having been around for years and used by everyone from the biggest companies in the world to mom-and-pop shops.
- Blogs work with the other technology you have. They’re not trying to replace email, or the rest of your website, they’re just giving your company a new channel to communicate in.
- A blog can be used anywhere that tools like email and IM are: Inside or outside the company, in one location or around the world.
- There’s no set rules about how to have a blog. You can start small, with a lot of control over content and community, and expand over time — don’t jump in with both feet if you’re not ready.
The bottom line is, if you’re trying to convince your boss to start trying blogs, or you have a client that you know would be a perfect candidate for using a blog, don’t start preaching about the scary stuff. Just let them know blogs are safe, and that there’s plenty of examples of the tangible and intangible benefits that businesses can get by embracing them.
Still need more help? Get in touch and we’ll help you show what blogs can do for your business. Without scaring the hell out of people.
Okay, maybe you’ve got a great sense of style. Then why is your Movable Type blog still using one of the default designs? It’s time to make something that actually communicates a little bit about your own sense of aesthetics.
The good news is, you don’t have to dig into learning CSS or anything fancy just to make a nice-looking site. Try out Arvind Satyanarayan’s Movable Type Style Generator: It works great with the default templates in Movable Type 3.2.
Using the Style Generator, you can create a new design with 1, 2 or 3 columns and your own personal color scheme with just a few clicks. There’s a sample blog that lets you see your changes live as you make them, and if you want to change your style, you just replace your stylesheet with the code that the Generator gives you. The best part is that Arvind only asks for a measly five bucks if you use the service. Of course, you could be a cheapskate and generate your styles for free, but donating will make you feel good, and even better, will make your blogs look great.
A few months ago, Peter Merholz wrote a post on his blog called “Eating away from below, which was a smart and interesting take on how nimbler, easier, more social software is going to start succeeding in large businesses. Peter is partially responsible (well, actually, it’s all his fault) for coining the word blog, and he’s been extremely influential with his work at Adaptive Path and on his eight (!) year old blog, so we tend to listen to what he says. Here’s the gist of it:
[T]he most obvious trend is that the enterprise software market is being eaten away from below. My favorite case in point is Movable Type, the software which enables me to publish this blog. With a few modifications, it enabled Adaptive Path to publish it’s site. And then, as this post makes clear, with a fair bit of modification, it powers the site for SEED Magazine. What this demonstrates is what we’ve known all along — Movable Type isn’t a blog publishing tool — it’s a lightweight content management system. Blog publishing was essentially a trojan horse toward rethinking how to enable publishing on the Web. In my world, content management systems (CMSes) have long been the enterprise software that has been the biggest pain in the ass to deal with. Typically modified from document management systems, these tools were big, bloated, unwieldy, expensive, and, most importantly, ill-suited to the task of publishing on the Web. What Movable Type did was start with the simple, and focus on supporting a true web-native genre, and then build up from there as need be.
There’s a lot more smart thinking in Peter’s post, including some parts that are less self-serving for us here at Six Apart, as well as some great challenging comments, so it’s well worth a read. You can check out more of Peter’s thinking at Adaptive Path’s site, which of course is powered by Movable Type. It’s ideas like these that have really helped us shape and evolve our thinking in developing Movable Type Enterprise.