A Look At Movable Type v/s WordPress

Matt Craven expresses his opinion about Movable Type and WordPress comparison in response to Mike Rundel’s Movable Type vs. WordPress. Even if this has been looked at earlier, this discussion is about the more recent versions of both the blogging tools.

For the uninformed, Movable Type and WordPress are two of the top and popular blogging tools today. Along with the basic functionality both of them provide so many extensions through plugins and customization that they can be used easily for developing solutions. Lot of personal blogs have opted out of Movable Type after Six Apart started a paid edition. This has fueled the WordPress community with more users and more development.

In my opinion, WordPress and Movable Type are neck to neck when they are compared on the features and plugins front. One of the biggest differences between them was the multi-blog/multi-user support. Since WordPressMU, the scenario has changed and WordPress can now bagged one of the most critical factors. While there are some differences like, Movable Type using Perl and WordPress using PHP at its base, I will try to omit them as they might not affect the end user directly. Here is a look at the distinguishers other than pricing:


Movable Type has since long supported the static publishing model. This means that a page is created once and then saved on the disk. It is not generated again unless come core design element changes which ripples through all the pages. This definitely can improve performance as communication with the database is not required for serving the pages. However, if there are thousands of pages (which is the norm), change in the design has be followed up with long and slow regenerating of the static pages. However, the newer versions of Movable Type now support dynamic publishing using PHP, but it does not support a wide array of commonly used plugins.

WordPress is a firm believer of being completely dynamic. All the content is stored in the database, and a page is created on the fly before it is served. A high-traffice website can cause high load on the database and can slow down things as WordPress hasto depend on the database for every serving of the page. However, there are certain plugins available that can cache the system and offer better performance.

Another impact of this is that the pages from Movable Type are available as individual HTML pages and can be downloaded individually as a backup. As against this, WordPress users have to backup the database to backup their posts.

As a user, I will go with WordPress, because I feel the dynamic publishing is more intuitive and requires lesser maintenance than static publishing. As a developer, I believe that solutions should be found in optimizations and better designs for better performance.

Templage Tags

Movable Type supports Smarty like template tags while WordPress uses PHP function calls as tags. The main purpose of tags is that theme developers, who might not be familiar with programming languages, can still develop the templates. The tags can be considered to be a API to access the blogging engine.

I like the Smarty tags and how they can enable reduce the programming knowledge required for theme developers. Note that I am saying minimize, not eliminate. Even if they are just tags, there is still logic required to access data in a particular fashion and display it. Matt Read does quite well in convincing that the PHP functions can be considered and treated as tags.

WordPress not having Smarty like tags is not a show-stopper, but the easily accessible global functions and variables do encourage quick and dirty hacking instead of doing the same thing through plugins. But maybe, this is considered as an advantage by some.


WordPress is completely open source, and is licensed under GNU General Public License(GPL), in the sense that it allows developers to modify it and even redistribute it. Movable Type does not. This has led to some resentment, but each of them might be valid in their own place. However, for the end user (and the developer) completely open source is definitely beneficial. Personally, as an open source advocate, I voice my support in favor of WordPress.

Customized Syndication

As far as I know, WordPress has the most customizable syndication available. Movable Type does support full and category based syndication, but still not as flexible as in WordPress.


This, I think, is an underestimated feature in WordPress. With pages, you can create content that is not part of the posts and archives. As simple as it is, this enables developers to use WordPress like a Content Management System to create even non-blog sites. By support of the page templates, it is easy to create forms for search, feedback or contact us.

Movable Type claims that it does not share the target audience with WordPress. However, WordPress might soon be able to share Movable Type’s audience with its strong and fast development

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Copyright Abhijit Nadgouda.


2 Responses to “A Look At Movable Type v/s WordPress”

  1. links for 2006-05-13 | Shanta Rohse Says:

    […] A Look At Movable Type v/s WordPress Abhijit Nadgouda’s review of the two most popular blogging tools shows that they are neck and neck as far as features and plugins are concerned. However, WordPress is completely open source, which gives it the edge for a developer. (tags: wordpress weblog) […]

  2. Abhijit Nadgouda @ iface » Blogger Upgrade Says:

    […] Movable Type still supports static publishing. It does support a dynamic workaround, but it is strongly discouraged as a host of third party plugins don’t work in the dynamic mode. […]

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