Movabletype’s Documentation Boondoggle

In product documentation, the manual is the product. If a feature isn’t defined, it doesn’t exist as far as the user can tell. If a feature is described badly, the user will perceive the product to be a bad product. Thus, do not skimp on the documentation. Randal L. Schwartz, Perl author

With Sixapart’s Movabletype (MT) the lack of usable documentation is a feature. How else could you explain the lack of improvement despite a (shrinking) community of developers constantly complaining for years.
I’m currently upgrading a website that has been using MT since the software was publicly available. With such a long history there is a sense of loyalty and accumulated experience that made switching to Drupal or WordPress difficult. There were other concerns as well but thats not important here.
During this transition, the MT documentation has failed in almost every instance I have needed an answer to a question.
It’s not just their lack of written material, it’s the stupid mistakes with the material they have. The embedded links to ‘help’ within my MT install are a dead end and their search engine continuously times out.
We all plan our sites with the knowledge that Google search is likely how many will experience our sites but shouldn’t they, like the rest of us, at least try to design their site in such a fashion that data can actually be found? Nothing that is written seems to be connected — I found the old help forums through a Google search. There is a huge amount of user-contributed information that’s been available through these forums for years. They don’t bother to link to it nor provide a facility to search it.
Generally the best guide to MT is provided outside Six Apart but much of that is disappearing along with their user base.
Perhaps their latest effort will bare fruit but I’m not holding my breath.


  • The good thing about your information is that it is explicit enough for students to grasp. Thanks for your efforts in spreading academic knowledge.