Six Apart's Movable Type is widely recognised as the powerhouse of blogging tools because of its extensive management features and customisability.

But if you don't need professional support and multiple licences, the free version may be all you need. We tested the personal licence version of Movable Type 4.0 Beta , which includes some powerful editing tools and significantly improves on the previous free offering.

The final version of the software will be open-source, although Movable Type 4.0 Beta is not. With access to the code, Movable Type users will be able to modify the platform extensively; but even so, the most important improvement may be the long-overdue addition of a wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) editor.

Enhancing that upgrade is an HTML/wysiwyg toggle that lets you quickly switch back and forth between the editing screens - a feature that users of the competing Wordpress service have enjoyed for quite a while.

Getting your blog up and running is simple. As with Wordpress, Movable Type 4.0 Beta's client and server components take just minutes to install. If you don't host your own blog, you upload the server portion of the software to your host's server. To set up the blogging portion of your site, surf to a specified page on your site and let the platform do the rest.

The clearest improvement to Movable Type 4.0 Beta is the ability to customise how your site looks. In the new beta, editing themes is as simple as modifying HTML. At least at first, however, only a few themes will be available; in contrast, thousands of themes are available for Wordpress.

The interface in Movable Type 4.0 Beta is more awkward than the ones in Wordpress and Blogger. For example, when you're editing your blog's design in Movable Type, you have no simple way of switching back and forth between template sections, such as the header and the footer.

Also, changing the look of these sections can take time if you don't know your way around the template editor. Movable Type 4.0 Beta's page design is cleaner and more elegant-looking than the alternatives, however.

One feature that eclipses any other platform's comparable offering is the graphical statistics display on the dashboard, which lets you see which of your posts is the most popular. Graphs and charts help you visualise your site's traffic, offering up-to-date information so you don't have to surf to a hit-counter site such as to figure it out. A new community tool allows readers to become members of your site and post text, audio and video.

Movable Type 4.0 Beta: Specs

  • Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher, Mozilla Firefox 1.5 or higher, Safari (Firefox recommended for Max OS X users)
  • Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher, Mozilla Firefox 1.5 or higher, Safari (Firefox recommended for Max OS X users)


Movable Type 4.0 represents a significant step forward for a platform that has been losing its competitive edge to free, less sophisticated alternatives that continue to improve. The full-featured Movable Type 4.0 Beta is a fine alternative to Wordpress or Blogger. Developers and bloggers who want to create a unique platform will like this GPL-licensed open-source version, although the awkward interface still makes it less than ideal for inexperienced web publishers.