MovableType Version 4 does not support External RSS Enclosures

From today forward I will no longer recommend MovableType as a viable new media blogging / podcasting platform. I will recommend WordPress to any and all that ask my advice.

SixApart in my eyes is a failure in leadership and understanding of the current utilization of their platform by paying customers by both the MT4 team leaders and senior management of Six Apart.

I do not say this lightly and I had hoped that the MT4 product release would have some of the native support WordPress has for new media and podcasting.

This is a product that I believed in significantly. I took the time in early 2005 to discuss how to implement podcasting support in MovableType in my award-winning podcasting book because it was a good platform to publish from at the time.

For the past three years we have relied upon a “single plugin” from Brandon Fuller to allow MovableType users to post our podcast and have compliant RSS feeds with Enclosures:“All was well”.

To my dismay today when working on the upgrade to MT4 I found out that the development team put little or no thought into their supposed announced podcasting support from back in July.

Their mistake was relying on their pronet team to get their implementation right. The sad thing is all they had to do was look at the integrated WordPress functionality to understand why their implementation was flawed. A five minute conversation with a MT user that was a podcaster would have put them on the right track and not set them up for this huge failure. 

They bragged to the world on the development blog how MT4 would have podcasting support. Well it’s late November and I have figured out that in simple fact they do not have really have podcasting support for the way the vast majority of us have to publish our shows.

Here is their Fundamental Flaw: They thought (incorrectly) that most podcasters would host their media in the same place as their blog, similar to how you would host an image file on your own site.

Little did they realize that many podcasters are getting multiple thousands of downloads each day, and hosting media on the same server as the blog is not possible.

Today I submitted a trouble ticket asking how to get MT4 to recognize external media in the creation of the RSS feed.  This is the reply that confirmed what I figured out at 9am this morning.

Unfortunately, Movable Type 4 does not currently provide a
means to recognize externally linked files as assets and include them as an enclosure in an Atom or RSS feed.  You may wish to examine the Feed Manager plugin and see if it is able to meet your needs:

The MT-Enclosures plugin is currently not compatible with Movable Type 4, so you would not be able to use this plugin in a Movable Type 4 installation.  

First of all why is he even talking about ATOM? Who uses Atom and since when is podcasting supported through ATOM? You’re not going to get automated delivery through that protocol on any of the major sites.

Second you have got to be KIDDING me. WordPress has been able to do this for THREE years! So not only can I no longer upgrade to MT4 but I waited three years to go in the opposite direction, unless I can find a dedicated server that can handle the media deliveries and also serve the webpages.

Third, the FeedManager plugin does not do what needs to be done. My only hope is that Brandon Fuller can update his enclosure plugin so at least I don’t have to throw away thousands of dollars of design work.

This shows you the sheer lack of understanding of the MovableType development team and the  management of Six Apart.

HELLO, Six Apart this is 2007 and to not have native support for enclosures in 2007 shows that you are no longer in touch with what is happening in the real world.

While they will comment about how great the platform is, and how it handles media delivered internally to a single install in their walled garden,  they have no clue as to how the rest of the new media community really works. For a release that is supposed to be about new media maybe they need to make sure they cover the basics that the WordPress team has had in place for three years!

About Todd Cochrane

Todd Cochrane is the Founder of Geek News Central and host of the Geek News Central Podcast. He is a Podcast Hall of Fame Inductee and was one of the very first podcasters in 2004. He wrote the first book on podcasting, and did many of the early Podcast Advertising deals in the podcasting space. He does two other podcasts in addition to Geek News Central. The New Media Show and Podcast Legends.

14 thoughts on “MovableType Version 4 does not support External RSS Enclosures

  1. You speak about platitudes, but then how else would one describe parts of that last paragraph in your proceeding comment? “the Movable Type team and in fact all of Six Apart is listening”?

    To the extent that I represent the Movable Type product, the company of Six Apart and (to what extent they allow) the Movable Type community, Six Apart is listening.

    To the extent that I have personally notified senior management of Six Apart about this post, posted about this article on our internal blogs, my personal blog and on Movable Type dot org, this post has received a great deal of attention from Six Apart and has opened our eyes to a critical feature area that Movable Type needs to improve upon. Significantly.

  2. Fair and accurate criticism Lloyd. At the time, I was overly defensive because I really care about how users of Movable Type feel about this product. As a result I made assumptions I shouldn’t have. You are right to call me on that. What Dan has built with PodPress is enviable. Period. It is a stellar product and I sincerely hope that sentiment has come through in my previous comments.

    Perhaps I should shut my hole and see if he would like to collaborate in building a PodPress plugin for Movable Type? I see a tremendous opportunity for him as many MT users covet the functionality PodPress provides.

    But I digress.

    I don’t recall in this thread playing the open source card. Open source just doesn’t seem relevant to this discussion. Is it? To me, this thread has been about one thing: trying to respond to a valid concern expressed by a dedicated and passionate user, and providing them not with platitudes, but with real results in a timely fashion.

    If there is one thing I hope Todd, and his listeners learn is that I, the Movable Type team and in fact all of Six Apart is listening, and that I am personally willing to commit my time to do whatever it takes to make Movable Type a product that suits his needs, that of his listeners, and any podcaster looking to make the most out of their blogging platform.

  3. @Todd – Happy Birthday:

    A Podcasting Plugin for Movable Type.

    And there was much rejoicing.


    *crossing fingers*


  4. @bruce21 – I say this just because I am stickler for technical correctness. RSS is not an Internet Standard. You will not find it endorsed by any reputable standards body in the world. Atom actually is technically the only Standard (with a capital ‘S’) that exists for syndication.

    That being said, anyone (especially myself) would be a fool to ignore RSS for philosophical reasons, because in practice RSS might as well be a standard.

    However, there is a reason why Google has chosen for its own APIs, like GData, not to support RSS. One has to look critically at Google’s decision and ask themselves, “why?” And when a company like Google, who has more influence over market adoption then any other single company (except perhaps Microsoft, which BTW also supports the Atom Publishing Protocol for blog posting in Office 2007), chooses NOT to adopt RSS… what does that mean for RSS in the long term? Maybe nothing, but what do you think?

    There is a reason why the standards process is important, because unlike RSS, Atom is required to be valid XML. Weird huh? Because RSS was developed at a time when XML parsers were dumb, members in the RSS community insisted not on stating the requirements that RSS also be valid XML.

    RSS works, but doesn’t that defy reason?

    More importantly, the IETF mandated interoperability testing on a scale that was never required for RSS. RSS’s short comings were worked around by developers as opposed to being teased out in the specification so that developers in the end don’t have to work so hard and can trust the endpoint they interop with to just work.

    But I have never found these debates to be fruitful. Both RSS and Atom need to be supported. I personally prefer Atom because I believe strongly that open standards are better than closed ones.

  5. Todd,

    I listened to your podcast, and I have to compliment you on your passion and dedication to Movable Type. We need more people like you in our community and I want to thank you for sticking with us for so long.

    You have inspired me to begin work on a Podcasting plugin for Movable Type, which if I am lucky I should have out in the next couple of days. I am also the author of Feed Manager which has the necessary auto-discovery code in it to link to external files.

    It won’t have all the features of PodPress, but hopefully in time the community can help me expand upon the core functionality to include stats and other information.

    I can’t apologize enough for failing to meet your expectations. Hearing users like you become so frustrated is something we all take personally and it compels us to make a better product.

    Stay tuned to my blog for an announcement when a beta of the plugin becomes available.

    Thank you again Todd. Hopefully we will have a chance to talk again soon. :)


  6. Another thing to consider is that at least you can publish a podcast with WordPress today. You cannot say the same with MovableType Version 4 it is simply not possible to publish a podcast with the current version of the blogging software.

  7. WordPress does have native support when you are publishing a post you will see add media at the bottom of the page.

    If you add your media there and hit publish the media will be included as a enclosure in your RSS feed.

    While you will not have all the fancy itunes tags you can manually edit your rss template and add that data to be included.

    To make it easy the podpress plugin makes it easy for you to add the itunes data to the feed.

  8. Umm, PodPress is a free, open-source plugin for WordPress, just like WordPress is, built by one lone programmer and is an amazing amount of work for him.
    Oh, and on the atom point: Sorry, but the fact that apple has atom support doesn’t mean this industry (which is what I think podcasting has become) should change from RSS to atom. Podcast = RSS, and that’s the way it is…

  9. @Lauren S: WordPress does not have native support of Podasting as stated here. In going a bit nuts on the issue, Todd blurred what is native and what is a popular third party plugin in WP.

    Also, on an aside, to the MT community’s knowledge the Enclosures plugin works in MT4. Perhaps it should have been built into MT4 to back up their claims of pocasting support.

  10. I too would be interested in finding out more about WordPress’ native support for podcasting. As I understand it, PodPress is a plugin and relies upon a third party service.

    I will admit though, it is an excellent plugin – one that raises the bar for anyone else wishing to claim support for podcasting. To the PodPress folks I tip my nat. But it should not be mistaken for a core feature. It is developed by a third party that has a vested interest in getting people to upload podcasts into their system.

    Be that as it may, I hope that in time you will see that Six Apart is committed to creating a viable, no, a stellar multimedia platform. One that integrates seamlessly with a third party multimedia platform (see the latest Media Manager release as an example).

    For MT4, as the person ultimately responsible for defining what features got in, and what features were out, I take full responsibility for our failure to meet your expectations.

    I can certainly understand your frustration though if you feel we oversold our podcasting support. I can see how one could see it that way. But “podcasting support” is actually a very nebulous thing when you really think about. How does one really draw a line between simple enclosure supports and podcast download statistics. Podcasting in this way could be a really small and simple feature, or an enormous all encompassing feature.

    That certainly was the challenge I faced in determining how deep our support for podcasting went. In the end, given all the other scheduling and feature constraints we were under, I felt it wise to start small, and expand upon that over time. To allow third parties, like our wonderful ProNet developer community, to help explore new and more innovative podcasting solutions. This would allow us to develop a product that encompassed the best of breed solutions that all of us worked on together.

    Finally, I would like to correct you on one thing, and as an author of a book on podcasting, this is something that should be of value to you. I worked hard with the Atom Working Group to solidify its spec for enclosures, and once it had stablized I worked with the Product Manager of the iTunes Music Store to ensure that Apple implemented support for Atom-based podcast feeds. Why? Because Atom remains the only Internet Standard for content syndication, and as such, Apple really should support it. So I think you will find that more and more service providers are supporting podcast feeds in the Atom format.

    Thank you for your feedback.

    Byrne Reese
    Product Manager, Movable Type

  11. Can you point me to where I can find information on how WordPress natively support podcasting? I have been trying to set it up on my WP blog but have only been able to find PodPress which is a separate plugin and I am hesitant to install 3rd party plugins.

  12. I moved from Movable Type to WordPress last year, not long after I had paid for the Movable Type upgrade to version 3.2. I like WordPress a lot better, and I think it handles podcasting tasks pretty well.

  13. Unfortunately, Six Apart is a real mess in another critical area. Despite numerous requests, Six Apart continues to insist on an inaccessible, visual only CAPTCHA that locks out blind and visually impaired readers from posting comments on blogs that have CAPTCHA enabled.

  14. Hey Todd,
    I too am an avid and vocal supporter of Six Apart, and am also disappointed to hear they have moved counter to the base of users. I would see this as a move more to the business clients, who can afford such dedicated servers, if they wanted to do podcasting at all. I would love it if someone brought this up to the users and the devs on the pronet mailing list and see what reactions you get, because I have to imagine you are not the only one with this frustration with MT4. For my own podcast, I do hos tthe files on the same server as my blog, a shared hosting, but I doubt I see the numbers that your show does.
    -Medros of All Things Azeroth

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