Ben und Mena Trott: Ein Interview mit den Movable Type-Programmierer-Päarchen

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ben_mena_trott.jpgSeit 2 Jahren boomt nun schon die Weblog-Szene und ein Redaktions-System cruist ganz vorne mit dabei: Movable Type. Der Erfolg hat mehrere Gründe: Es ist kostenlos für persönliche Zwecke, bietet reichhaltige, durchdachte, einzigartige Features und wird von einem liebenswürdigen Duo entwickelt: Ben und Mena Trott. Zeit also, den beiden endlich einmal ein paar Fragen zu stellen und Respekt zu zollen.

Auch Phlow.net basiert auf Movable Type (im folgenden: MT). Außerdem benutzen wir fleissig die Plug-In-Schnittstelle mit welcher man weitere wichtige Features von enthusiastischen MT-Plugin-Programmierern einbauen kann, um das Publizieren und Aufbereiten des Inhalts zu erleichtern. Das System läuft stabil, wir sind begeistert und deswegen wollten wir Tribut zollen und unseren Wissensdurst befriedigen.

Da Ben und Mena zur Zeit mit der aktuellen Entwicklung von Type Pad dermaßen beschäftigt sind, hat uns Anil, die kürzlich zu den beiden dazugestoßen ist, in einem Email-Interview die Fragen beantwortet.

Phlow: Could you introduce Ben and Mena a little bit? How old are they? Where do they live? Did they study? Where did they get their knowledge about programming and computers?

Anil: Ben and Mena are 25 years old, living in San Francisco. They met each other in high school and went to college together, getting married shortly after they graduated. I know that Ben studied computer science in college, but both of them were avid computer users well before that. I will check with them to find out details of this for you.

Phlow: Why did they start to program MT?

dollarshort.jpgAnil: Movable Type was created in the fall of 2001 because Mena had been maintaining her Dollarshort.org weblog for a while but had outgrown the tools that were available. As they were both experienced in building content management and publishing systems, and their jobs had both just ended, they put their full efforts into building Movable Type, which was launched in October 2001.

Phlow: What is the philosophy behind the free distribution of MT?

Anil: The reason that Movable Type is available for free is because it was created by people with a passion for personal publishing, so they wanted anyone with the skill and interest to be able to join in the weblog medium. Also, since they were both tinkerers who had customized software and added features themselves, they wanted to design Movable Type with the same goals in mind, that people could build new things on top of it.

Phlow: What are their experiences with letting other people use their work without paying you money? Do users/agencies give them donations or money because they used the system? Do they make a living out of MT? are they happy about their descision? and would they advise others to follow that path?

Anil: We've had a tremendous amount of success with soliciting for user donations. People are very, very generous about tools that let them express themselves. Business users are required to pay the license fee for the software, though even those payments are on the honor system as well.

Movable Type started getting donations from its first version, leading to Six Apart being incorporated in 2002 to be the business behind Movable Type (and now, TypePad). They are thrilled that people have been so supportive and enthusiastic so far, and would recommend to other to try building a business the same way. I think a key reason that voluntary donations have been successful in supporting the company so far is because the tool is that exceptional and their relationship with their users is that strong. If other people think they can make that same connection with people using their software, then they'll do well.

Phlow: To me MT is somehow a little bit like an open source project because a lot of users are so fascinated (like brad choate) that they programm their own plug-ins to strengthen their weblog-power even more. Did Ben and Mena expect that so many people would participate in using MT and even produce their own code?

ben_mena_trott2.jpgAnil: Movable Type is open source, but not "free" software in the GPL sense. So there is a lot of flexibility in what people can do with the system, which was always intended. There's been some surprise in just how creative people are with the system and in the breadth of features they've tried to plug into the system, but that's the reason that you make software more open, so that the only limit is the creativity of your users, not what the creators could think of themselves.

Phlow: Did they expect such a success in the online- and computer-world?

Anil: I think Movable Type has exceeded past their initial expectations, since it was begun as a hobby, but the hope was always there that people would connect with the tool and the community around it as much as they have. We've had the same sort of situation with TypePad already, as the service was announced and people have been tremendously supportive, even before it has launched.

Phlow: How did MT got such an attention? What do they think is the most important fact of the success?

anil_dash.jpgAnil: Movable Type has gotten all of its attention purely on its merits. There's never been a concerted effort to promote the product, and there was zero budget for marketing the product. The two biggest factors contributing to the success of Movable Type were that it had many important and innovative features that nobody else was providing, and that the users were so enthusiastic about and happy with the product that they recommended it to friends.

Phlow: What gives Ben and Mena the power and energy to move on? In my opinion MT is today more than a weblog-system it's a CMS (Content Management System). Would they agree? Is the development leading to this point?

Anil: Ben and Mena are strongly motivated by the response they get from users, and by the beautiful writing, art, and expression that users create by using their tools. Movable Type certainly has grown to be an entire CMS for a lot of users, and that's a use that will probably be easier to do in the future with Movable Type Pro coming out. The goal is always to be a personal publishing tool, first and foremost, but that covers many areas such as weblogs, photo albums, nanopublishing efforts, journalism, and many other areas. We want to provide the basic platform for those tasks, and people can customize the system to fit however they want to use it.

Phlow: What do they expect from typepad (financial aspects, future aspects)?

Anil: We expect to grow the entire weblog market with the release of TypePad. There are still tremendous technical and implementation barriers to starting a weblog today, and TypePad makes these things simpler than anything that's come before. There are a few hundred thousand users actively maintaining weblogs today, and we don't doubt that the weblog industry will double in size after the release of TypePad.

Phlow: Can you tell me some nice reactions, emails or happenings around their work?

Anil: We've had an incredible number of good reactions. I will collect some of our best references and send them along to you.

Phlow: Anil, thank you, Mena and Ben very much for the interview!

Links:
Movable TypeSix Apart (Firma von Ben und Mena)
Dollarshort.org (Menas persönliches Weblog)
Anil Dashs Website
Type Pad
Dienstraum: Gesammelte Typepad-Reaktionen

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Kommentare

endlich ein Interview mit den beiden auf Deutsch... Habe bisher noch kein einziges gefunden. sehr gut!

meint: Peter am 17.05.03

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