A Standards-Compliant Publishing Tool for the Rest of Us?

The development community, the independent content community, and especially webloggers, are familiar with Six Apart’s Movable Type, a robust and popular publishing tool designed to faciliate the creation of blogs. Lately the community has been buzzing about a soon-to-be-released Six Apart product intended to deliver the power of personal publishing to an even wider, non-expert user base.

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What has not been told until now is that TypePad has been designed to generate standards-compliant sites, and that the application itself is built with web standards. A List Apart’s publisher and creative director Jeffrey Zeldman caught up with Six Apart’s Anil Dash to find out more.

We’re thrilled that you’ve chosen A List Apart as the place to announce the standards compliance part of your story. But before we get into that, please tell us about TypePad. What does it do, and who is it for?

TypePad is a personal publishing service that combines easy tools for creating weblogs, photo blogs, photo albums, and all the other pieces of a full-featured personal website with hosting and maintenance and updates of the software. Because the whole system is designed to work by just signing up and diving in, we’re anticipating it being extremely popular with beginners, but it will range in features all the way up to its highest tier, which includes nearly all of Movable Type’s functionality, except for the ability to customize the application’s code.

Aside from improved standards compliance, which we’ll get into a bit later, how does TypePad differ from other web publishing tools and weblog services, including your company’s popular Movable Type product? Standards aside, how does it differ from the non-Six Apart products out there?

The key thing that differentiates TypePad is that it’s designed to not require any setup or configuration, or any focus on anything except the ideas you’re sharing. In the case of Movable Type, TypePad is differentiated by not needing to be installed on your server. In the case of other weblog tools, TypePad is differentiated by not needing the user to manually integrate Javascript or HTML for basic features like comments, categories, TrackBack, blogrolls or statistics.

TypePad’s press materials state that the product is specifically designed for webloggers and similar personal site creators. We’ll bite: in what special ways does TypePad meet those content producers’ needs?

The advantage we had in creating TypePad was getting to start, around the middle of last year, at a time when the formats themselves were relatively defined, and we could work backwards from the way weblogs exist in order to make the tool work to suit the appropriate tasks. We’ve seen lots of people who are signed up for three, four, or five different services, each with their own password, just to manage their weblog, blogroll, comments, and statistics. And then on top of that, they’re forced to manually integrate those pieces with little pieces of Javascript inserted into inscrutable places in the markup for their templates. For web developers, this is all trivial. For my mom, it’s just not even in the realm of possibility. So TypePad gives those basic users the tools to manage all those pieces right in the interface, while allowing advanced users to still get in and customize it as they’d expect to.

Does this focus on the needs of bloggers mean that the tool would not help other kinds of content creators and site owners and developers? For instance, would TypePad be a poor choice for a school, church, or other small organization that is looking for an affordable content management system that supports web standards? (If it is a poor choice, what might they use instead?)

TypePad would probably only be used by very small organizations which were primarily focused on updating the news on their site. It’s likely to fit the “church newsletter” market pretty well, but it’s not designed to build a full brochureware site, even though there are some fairly nice tools for managing the static parts of your site. We think it’s more likely that small businesses get help with their sites from consultants, either paid or voluntary friend-of-a-friend experts working on building their sites. And to those developers, Movable Type is already the most popular choice. It does generate standards-compliant markup by default, and we plan to improve the semantics of the default templates even more in our upcoming releases.

Okay. Tell us about standards compliance in TypePad. From glancing at the limited materials Six Apart has so far made available, my sense is that with this product even a novice could publish a weblog built with valid XHTML and CSS. Is that correct? If so, how does it work?

TypePad does allow users at any level to choose from a library of fully compliant XHTML/CSS templates. Even better, they can use the built-in visual template builder to choose which pieces of information to display on a page, drag and drop them within the app to rearrange them on the page, and then just hit save and the application will generate the appropriate markup for them automatically. At the advanced level, we have the full templating system that current Movable Type users are familiar with, and all the power and potential that our users keep surprising us with is there. But the part that keeps enticing us is that users don’t have to choose from pre-built templates, they can make their own, either starting from scratch or by basing it on one of the ones that come with the app, and still have a fully validating page when they’re done with the process.

Does Six Apart provide users with standards-compliant templates? If so, who designed those?

Every template in TypePad will be standards-compliant markup by default. We haven’t finalized the number of pre-built templates yet, but because the template builder lets people create their own, the total number is essentially limitless. All of the built-in ones are designed by Mena Trott, who designed the default Movable Type templates that people seem very happy with, along with sites like her own Dollarshort.org and Gizmodo, a Movable Type-powered weblog about gadgets. Interestingly, she also designed the Currency template, which seems to have been adopted as an option by nearly every weblog publishing tool that exists, so it appears that even the users of our competitors’ products like her design sense.

Why is it important to Six Apart to create a tool that generates valid markup, styles, and code? What is the benefit to users of TypePad and to people who visit TypePad-generated sites?

At a fundamental level, the web standards story is about access. Giving browser developers access to the market. Giving readers with disabilities access to information. Giving users of any platform access to the sites that matter to them. So there’s a strong sense that we’re making pages generated in TypePad represent what weblogging is about in general, a level playing field for information, a sort of democratization of publishing. From a personal standpoint, I think we’re all just a little bit neurotic and compulsive enough that the “correctness” of valid markup appeals to us, too, though I suspect we’re supposed to present that as us being a detail-oriented organization.

In a larger sense, we have two big goals for TypePad’s output. We want to enable even the least technologically-savvy user to participate in the benefits of advanced technology. Someday soon (Yea, verily, I believe!) there will be benefits to generating semantically-valid markup that validates as XHTML. And those are benefits that shouldn’t be conferred only on the technically elite. Indeed, they’ll be less interesting benefits if those are the only users who see them. But we’re also interested in quality. We say often that we don’t just want a lot of weblogs to use Typepad, we want them to be quality weblogs. And page quality is a reflection of the site itself, we believe. There’s a sense of craftsmanship to a well-made web page just as there is to the solidity of a chair made by an expert carpenter. So maybe that’s some invisible aesthetic decision, but we think that it’s important and that it influences the quality of writing, design, and expression on the site itself.

Basically, we want our pages to be valid so that they’re accessible to the largest possible audience. And we want that broadness of accessibility to be a motivator for people to do justice to the breadth of their audience in terms of the quality of the ideas they express using our tools.

If the user creates his or her own template, and that template is not standards-compliant, what happens? Does TypePad magically fix such problems?

We fully support the right of our advanced users to be as depraved as they need to be. The basic and intermediate level template builders actually don’t allow invalid markup to be created. Advanced users are given the Peter Parker admonition: With great power comes great responsibility. As much as we advocate web standards, we’re not zealots about it, and we know that people have different needs. Besides, we’ve seen the reaction that advanced users of word processors have to auto-correction, and we’re not really eager to get into the dancing paperclip level of authoritarianism over our users.

You’ve told me that TypePad is standards-compliant inside and out. In other words, not only does it generate standards-compliant sites, you claim that the tool itself is built with web standards. Please explain.

First, I’ll explain what inside and out means to us for TypePad. TypePad is designed to be a large scale, commercially available web application and publishing service, and every page in the application (minus any beta bugs we’re still working through right now) is valid XHTML. Movable Type was one of the earliest tools to generate XHTML by default for output, but the application itself reflects markup that, while good for its mid-2001 vintage, isn’t ideal. TypePad is, as far as we know, the first major web tool where we walk the walk for the program. We chose an XHTML 1.0 Transitional DOCTYPE, due to our requirements for scripting in the application. Our input and output formats are valid XML, and our positioning, layout, and styling are all described through valid CSS.

Second, TypePad is designed to encourage the creation of standards-compliant web pages by making it automatic wherever possible and easy everywhere else. Output pages are also valid XHTML and CSS.

Why was it important to Six Apart to build this product with web standards? What are you trying to prove?

Interestingly, TypePad’s status as standards-compliant wasn’t an articulated decision within the company. It’s just the way we all build pages by default, because it’s that much faster and that much easier to make work across platforms. So we never had a “should we do this in valid markup?” discussion; that’s just the only sensible development path, as far as we’re concerned. There was no advocacy component to it, it’s just the reality of having a development team that lives on multiple platforms and browsers. For example, primary development of TypePad was done for months on Mac OS X, and when Safari came out, except for known bugs in that browser, TypePad just worked. When I joined the company a few months ago, I finally got to really play with the application on Internet Explorer for Windows and Mozilla Firebird, my preferred browsers, and it just worked. I think we may have spent a few minutes dealing with IE’s box model weirdness, but cross-browser functionality testing was on the order of minutes, not even hours.

That’s not to say that our support for web standards is accidental or incidental, of course. I was a member of The Web Standards Project before I joined Six Apart, and the company has been nothing but supportive of my presence there, and strongly encourages my participation. For a while, we were a three person company, so they were essentially comfortable saying that one third of their human resources could focus on web standards as a priority. I don’t know of many other companies with that level of commitment to open standards.

Will the underlying standards-compliant code in TypePad, its standards-compliant output, and its special weblog-oriented features find their way into Movable Type at some point in the future?

We absolutely plan to bring every TypePad feature into Movable Type that we can. There are some limitations due to the fact that Movable Type is distributed and runs on a huge variety of different platforms. But the large-scale improvements that we got from developing TypePad will definitely surface in Movable Type and our upcoming Movable Type Pro release.

When these standards and these new, blogger-oriented features make their way into Movable Type, how should potential users decide which product, TypePad or Movable Type, is best for their needs? In other words, who will want one and who might prefer the other?

There’s a very simple way to decide whether TypePad or Movable Type are right for you. Movable Type is designed for businesses and power users who are comfortable managing their own servers and installing applications on them, or who have a need for customizing the code of the application itself. TypePad is designed for everyone else: basic to advanced users who want to focus on publishing their words, photos, and ideas without managing or installing any software.

Why should web producers interest themselves in products from a small company like Six Apart? Shouldn’t they wait for a more respectable product from a bigger company like Macromedia or even Microsoft?

Well, it depends on what they’re trying to achieve. We certainly work very well with tools from those companies, so perhaps the question isn’t deciding between them, but in choosing how they’ll work together. We’ve been very fortunate to have a good number of people inside Macromedia using our publishing tools, which we think complement their applications very well. And even Microsoft has created a blogging plug-in for their Windows Media Player, which can work with third-party applications that support our APIs to publish things like a “Now Playing” list to your weblog. So we see that as a validation from these big players that, just as we support their platforms, they support ours.

At a fundamental level, we think that part of what makes TypePad compelling to a lot of writers is the idea that you can have your own site and have control of publishing in a way that’s not controlled by a large corporation, or one of the giant media conglomerates. That’s not to say that those aren’t also valid and important media outlets, but we’ve seen that people like having a choice of both. Plus, I think everyone tends to prefer small companies when it comes to responsiveness and in valuing their customers.

Does Microsoft’s recent announcement that they will no longer upgrade Internet Explorer outside of an upcoming OS version that also includes Digital Rights Management, coupled with the announcement by AOL that it is likely to use IE6 instead of its own Netscape browser for the next seven years, in any way make you question Six Apart’s commitment to web standards?

Not at all. As mentioned earlier, our commitment to web standards comes from purely pragmatic reasons when developing our tools. No matter what future directions any of the browser or platform vendors go in, there are still hundreds of millions of machines and devices that we want to ensure are able to access the TypePad application and, more importantly, the sites that our users create with it. In fact we think the continuing evolution of these huge companies’ policies towards their browser and rendering efforts act as even more of a confirmation of the importance of web standards: platforms, tools, and technologies might change, but the only thing that ensures your words are still visible to the web are these standards.

What else should we know about TypePad, Movable Type, or Six Apart?

TypePad coming soon! Honest! We’ve just been thrilled that so many people are interested in trying it out, and we’d encourage anyone who wants to check out typepad.com to sign up for the mailing list, as that’s where we’ll be picking beta testers from. Movable Type is going to see a huge number of benefits from our work on TypePad, both in support for their common APIs and in improvements that’ll be reflected back from TypePad to Movable Type and Movable Type Pro. And regarding Six Apart, I’d say that the biggest thing people should know is that we appreciate how very much our users have contributed to our work, and that there’s still so much to do yet, for all of us. So do go and tell people about weblogs, about TypePad.

We all tend to think everyone knows about these things, but they’re just in their infancy, and we haven’t yet seen the potential of a truly huge global network of linked personal publishing efforts. Of course, we’re hoping that our tools are the best and that will make people choose them, but the most important thing is that people understand the potential of the medium, and that it doesn’t have to be confusing or complicated. In short, spread the word!

50 Reader Comments

  1. Sounds like a very impressive and useful tool. I was looking for something of this nature and decided on a very nice PHP and MySQL program, WordPress [ http://wordpress.org/ ]. Currently using it on my website and it works like a charm. Great article.

  2. nice… but it doesn’t seem like the usual type of alistapart article. where’s the technical know-how? where’s the lesson?
    seems to me like a blatant product plug, and an attempt to make alistapart a little more like other magazines, and less underground.
    i’m not really compaining, but i’ve gotten used to ALA giving me something to work with, not just an interview.

  3. Even though I’ve strived to make my MT templates usable and valid, I often slip up and forget to encode ampersands in links to other sites. I wonder it Typepad will try and deal with bad user input…other wise you will have a nice valid wrapper around invalid content.

  4. Indeed, I often do that as well. They stated that more advanced users dislike auto-correction and I see their point, but I certainly would love it if I didn’t have to go and edit little mistakes like that.

  5. Jim:

    We knew this was a different type of ALA article and we also knew that some readers might view it as commercial. But we felt there was a genuine news angle to a product that lets anyone publish a standards-compliant site and that itself is built with standards … and who, if not A List Apart, would tell that kind of story? Many ALA readers ask, where are the standards-compliant Content Management Systems? Well, here is one. We felt the “service to our readers” aspect outweighed any potential downside. And we also thought an interview was the best way to deliver the information. Future ALA articles will continue the tradition of sharing how to achieve particular tasks, providing downloadable (open) source code, and so on.

  6. I certainly would love it if I didn’t have to go and edit little mistakes like that.

    We actually have an attribute in our template tags (if you don’t use MT, we have a system of tags which can be used to control output) that will automatically escape any content within them to be XHTML-compliant if you’re like me and tend to forget to do it manually. Those tags will all still be available to advanced users.

    And regarding the “commercial” nature of the interview, I’ve been a standards advocate for a long time, and aside from the “no real companies use web standards” argument, the second most common thing I’ve heard is that standards are only valuable for documents, not web apps. We’re hoping that real examples of “normal” (which means non-techie, to business folks) people using standards in a web app will help others to see the advantages.

    We will be putting out more nuts and bolts info in the future, and honestly, a lot of the details of our implementation are things that have already been discussed on ALA as far as the proper use of semantic markup goes.

  7. One good CMS that is often overlooked is pMachine (http://www.pmachine.com). The default template is valid XHTML and CSS (and it attempts to make user-created templates valid as well), and it has a slew of features allowing it to be used for everything from a basic weblog to a complete site CMS for web designers and their clients. The nonconformist in me just wouldn’t let me use Movable Type, and I am very happy that I found pMachine to use instead.

  8. I have a great deal of respect for Anil and the Movable Type crew. But I’m with Jim: This is, flat-out, an advertorial for the new TypePad service.

    ALA readers would benefit much more from an article in which Anil, or Mena Trott, carefully explained the process of coding those templates. That would (most importantly, of course) still allow them to get their marketing message across, but at least we developers would get something out of it.

  9. A List Apart has always been a vehicle to enlighten those of us who make websites. In otherwords, it introduces methods and tools to help us perfect our art. To my mind, this article is doing more of the same. Although it differs from the usual piece, it is still informing us of a new tool that may assist us in creating web documents in a standards-compliant manner.

    I see nothing wrong with this article. It isn’t some sort of a ‘sell out.’ After reading the piece, I still feel as if I’ve learned something, even if it isn’t some new design or authoring technique.

    Incidentally, it is GOOD to see A List Apart back in business again. If only Jeffrey could have written his book as quickly as I read it 😉

  10. WordPress (mentioned above, http://wordpress.org) from the beginning has been XHTML *1.1* compliant out of the box in all but its doctype, which is transitional for compatibility. We try our best to embody the spirit and letter of standards in our site, templates, and our administration interface, a section which is often overlooked due to the general public never seeing it. We’ve also done our best to make the default template as semantically correct as possible, using nested unordered lists for the menus, a proper hierarchy of heading tags, and contextual selectors where ever possible.

    Standards compliance has always been a priority for us and I applaud the 6A team for their efforts as well, although it was my impression that MT has been compliant for a while, and so this is not new with TypePad. Since I trust the people behind ALA I trust that this was not meant as an “advertorial” as a previous poster put it, but it sure comes off that way. There are several tools that are serious about standards that five minutes with Google would have made for a much more diverse and interesting article.

  11. I agree with a few others that this well intentioned ALA article contained more product plugging and feature descriptions than interesting content. I also would have liked to hear more about the Process of designing a standards compliant tool with the knitty gritty details included.

    The audience at ALA is knowledgable and hip to the web standards scene .. so why deviate from in-depth articles by publishing interviews on products? I think this would have best been “blogged” at zeldman.com than published at ALA.

    With all of that out of the way (hopefully it was constructive criticism, and not disrespectful), I am very glad to see ALA back up and running, and eagerly await the next issue! Thanks for all your hard work Zeldman and freinds.

  12. Great info on this new product that seems quite interesting indeed. It’s good to see ALA back on track as well, I trust I was not the only one worried it would never come back…

    Looking at the other comments on this list it seems i’m not the only one happy to see some action in here… looking forward to be enlightened again, just like I’ve been recently with “Designing with Web Standards”. I’m recommending it to everyone I know, it’s by far the best book on the subject ever written.

    Personnally, I don’t mind the Siz apart plug that much, I’m so happy to see ALA back on that you guys would have made in interview on Britney Spears I would have been pleased anyway.

  13. This article comes across as an out-an-out plug for a mate. Yes, there is a place for discussion of standards-based CMS on ALA, but a service to your readers would have analysed other products that do the same thing. The comments of this page show there are in fact similar products that already exist, which really brings into the question this article’s newsworthiness.

    I agree that the interview could have been improved by explaining how standards compliance was technically achieved, so that other developers can incorporate this knowledge into their own projects. But that wouldn’t be in the best commercial interests of six apart, would it?

  14. But that wouldn’t be in the best commercial interests of six apart, would it?

    Actually, we think it would. But we can’t really talk about the final implementation of the tech in TypePad until the service is at a state where beta’s been completed and people can actually *use* it. We will absolutely be sharing some of our experiences with the technical implementation of TypePad, particulary its user interface, but honestly it’s just a bit premature as of right now. And, as I mentioned above, ALA articles like Taming Lists and Practical CSS Layout Tips were a big part of our references when creating TypePad, so it wouldn’t make sense to repeat information that’s already here when we can offer a new resource for developers who are advocating standards-based web applicatoins.

  15. it wouldn’t make sense to repeat information that’s already here when we can offer a new resource for developers who are advocating standards-based web applicatoins

    This is my point exactly. It’s not in your commercial interests to explain how things were done because you’d prefer readers to use your new resource instead of gaining the knowledge to build their own. This is a business standpoint and that’s fine. However, I would have like ALA to realise Six Apart’s commercial interests and counter them with something else to make the story balanced.

  16. “It’s not in your commercial interests to explain how things were done because you’d prefer readers to use your new resource instead of gaining the knowledge to build their own.”

    Adrian, I don’t know how else to phrase this, but what I’m trying to communicate is that *this new article* is a resource that developers can use to demonstrate that companies are deploying standards-based web apps. We prefer our developers and partners to be as literate as possible in web standards, and we consider that in our commercial interests, as I mentioned in the interview. There are almost no other companies in the world (save Happy Cog or Hesketh) that devote more resources, as a percentage of total available manpower, to web standards and standards advocacy than Six Apart.

    This article on A List Apart doesn’t explain specifics of our CSS files because there *already ALA articles on those subjects*. We referred to the articles I mentioned above while creating TypePad. I don’t believe it would have improved the interview to long sections of the Practical CSS article when anyone on this site can simply click through and read it for themselves. Or, more likely, they’ve *already* read it.

    What nobody’s been able to point to is a commercial company making a business of a tool that doesn’t just output valid pages, but is *built* with XHTML and CSS. Perhaps the distinction is too subtle, and that’s why it’s getting lost. But I know in my standards advocacy work, I’ve wanted to be able to have a standards-based application to point to that would be equivalent to the role that the Wired News redesign has played in the advocacy of standards-based document publication for large scale websites.

    Now a resource demonstrating to business decision makers the value of commercial use of XHTML/CSS in an application exists. I can’t imagine that anyone active in the web standards advocacy community wouldn’t see value in that.

  17. Having spent the past 2 years striving for client approval to design standard compliant sites I am thrilled when a Company “bandstands” their use of Web Standards. It is asset like Wired and ESPN redesigning their sites to standards. Also having more tools to offer a client is another enormous benefit.

    The peace of mind that comes with knowing that the design you took months to complete won’t come crashing down because someone used Frontpage to post changes is priceless! I have used and pitched both MT and pMachine for client CMS solutions. There is very little increase in development time with either. MT is very difficult to install the first time, but possibly that is now changing with TypePad and the Pro version.

    Who says ALA can’t promote good design whether it is the aaplication or the product it produces. Keeping publishing these articles so we who are making a living designing for the Web can have positive examples. Maybe a series starting with an article like this one and then follow-up interviews that dig deeper for the more technically savy.

    Thanks Jeff and Anil!

    Jeff maybe an interview with Rick Ellis of PMachine might be a good idea.

  18. Good article. Bit of a departure from the typical ALA article, but I see nothing wrong with that.

    For the cynics: What did you want expect Anil to talk about, his three favorite colors? I’m all for the tech articles, but to label this as nothing more than a Typepad plug seems a bit harsh.

  19. It’s good to see ALA publishing new material again! I found the interview with Anil quite nteresting, if a bit of a set-piece. I too would have liked more of a “developer’s story” with some anecdotes about the processes and decisions, but fully support ALA calling attention to companies, products and people who “walk the walk.”

    What’s next?

  20. Liked the TypePad story a lot…in part because I’m a late discoverer of blogging and eager to learn as much as I can. Also working on the third edition of Writing for the Web, which will certainly deal with writing blogs. While my emphasis is always on the text and not on the technical means for displaying it, it’s really helpful to know what kinds of tools are out there. I agree that pMachine can create great blogs (see http://www.sarswatch.org), but my hesitant attempts to use it were not very encouraging.

  21. Can you at least give us an idea what quarter we should expect this to happen?
    I regret having to press you guys on this but it does seem highly unusual to make any announcement till you were at a further stage of development.
    As much as I would love to see you guys do well I hope you can see why others including myself are sceptical about how sixapart have (so far) gone about this.
    It seems to me and others (above) that you are manufacturing demand for a product that doesn’t exist.
    Larger companies are more able to successfully follow this approach because they can draw on more resources to support a project if things look like they may unravel. Sixapart is not in that league.
    From a strategic business perspective can you explain the rationale for this approach?

  22. Smash the capitalist CMS!

    I’m seeing in this forum a kind of blinkered backlash. I think the article does give the impression of an advertorial but big deal. Not all ALA readers are knowledgable, hip and ..erm..underground and ALA is as much about independent content as about doctype tutorials and style sheet widgets and that should include news about an interesting new blogging tool. And one can deny the valuable contribution to independent content that the makers of this product have made. Good luck to them. Having said that, a complete comparison of TypePad with the major blog/cms software available may have seemed more subjective. But, sometimes we get a bit precious about what is reasonable on the web and what isn’t. Lets all relax a little.

    Regarding easy to use software, I’ve used MT, Greymatter and pMachine and found pMachine to be the easiest to install, use and customise. I even dug into my pockets and actually !paid! for the pro version. And I’m pretty sure Version 1.0 was xhtml and css valid right out of the box over a year ago and the same could be said of the code it produced (could be wrong). I’d try Textpattern but if Dean Allen can’t stop poncing around the French countryside and add a nice photolog feature like he has on http://www.textism.com then he ain’t getting any of my money.

    Sorry about my long post.

    Long live the mighty standards-compliant CMS revolution!

  23. Photostack looks excellent. This should get me away from frames which is the only way I’ve managed to get pMachine make my photolog look the way I want. Easy Thumbnails too. Thankyou Matthew.

  24. “what I’m trying to communicate is that *this new article* is a resource that developers can use to demonstrate that companies are deploying standards-based web apps.”

    Okay, understood.

    “This article on A List Apart doesn’t explain specifics of our CSS files because there *already ALA articles on those subjects*.”

    I’m sorry to harp on but CSS isn’t the only issue in standards-based development. For example, I would have been interested in knowing how you dealt with converting plain text input entries into structural markup. However you have established that this article can be used to demonstrate the commerical value of XHTML/CSS to business decision makers, so I’d agree that such nitty-gritty technological discussions are innaproriate.

    In that case, I would argue that the following sample of questions did not help advocate the commerical benefits of standards.


    …in what special ways does TypePad meet those content producers’ needs

    would TypePad be a poor choice for a school, church, or other small organization…

    Why should web producers interest themselves in products from a small company like Six Apart? Shouldn’t they wait for a more respectable product from a bigger company like Macromedia or even Microsoft?

    What else should we know about TypePad, Movable Type, or Six Apart?

    Anil, my problem is not with your responses. Its the way most of the interview provided little scope for anything but marketing fluff.

  25. “Would TypePad be a poor choice for a school, church, or other small organization” is *marketing fluff?*

    Funny, that’s exactly the question I would have asked, having small and midsized clients who need an inexpensive CMS that won’t break my templates and is easy to run, so I don’t have to play systems administrator for them.

    And the answer was, no, Typepad isn’t the product that will solve my problem at providing a CMS solution for my clients. It was an honest answer, not marketing hype.

  26. “It was an honest answer, not marketing hype.”

    Yes it was an honest answer, but Adrian fealt is was just marketing fluf, lingo, etc. Nothing was mentioned about hype…

    I do agree that this article did not provide any useful information, and most of it can be found on TypePad’s website.

  27. I’ve already e-mailed Anil about this directly, but thought it would be worth posting here for comment:

    “Every template in TypePad will be standards-compliant markup by default. We haven’t finalized the number of pre-built templates yet, but because the template builder lets people create their own, the total number is essentially limitless. All of the built-in ones are designed by Mena Trott, who designed the default Movable Type templates that people seem very happy with, along with sites like her own Dollarshort.org and Gizmodo, a Movable Type-powered weblog about gadgets. Interestingly, she also designed the Currency template, which seems to have been adopted as an option by nearly every weblog publishing tool that exists, so it appears that even the users of our competitors’ products like her design sense.”

    “Anil – how about opening it up and allowing others to contribute?

    I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with Mena’s templates – I mean, I haven’t even seen any of them – but a bit of variety wouldn’t do any harm and you’re in a great position to publicise this.”

    I initially thought of an ‘approved by the Web Standards Project’ kind of thing, but it shouldn’t just be WaSP people contributing – if a template looks good and validates, whay not consider it? Dave Shea has had some great stuff over at CSS Zen Garden.

    Variety. It’s what life is all about.

    BTW, great to see ALA back again! 1 day in and already the forums are busy 🙂

  28. Well, not sure what happend to my last post (zapped), so I’m now in ‘can’t be bothered to re-type full post so you get potted version mode’. Hurrah.

    My comment – which I’ve e-mailed directly to Anil – is that it would be great to get more contributions for standards-compliant templates. A bit of community collaboration would be cool.

    Anyway, great to see ALA back. Let’s hope that it’s back in full steam now that JZ has put down his quill for a while.

  29. whew.
    I am glad to see ALA back, disappointed to see that its not a technical article. that’s pretty much what I said. I think we’ve become accustomed to the usual tech stuff, so an interview about a particular product does seem off the usual path, and somewhat commercial.
    Perhaps what some people are looking for is more of a discaimer about the purpose of the article, in the article itself – not the forum, such as the stated value to show that companies are moving toward standards. Instead, we’re met with “Lately the community has been buzzing about a soon-to-be-released Six Apart product…” So of course some people feel a bit sold, since we’re pretty much a guaranteed audience.
    On the other hand I wondered if this site is on the cusp of becoming a full-fledged webzine, in which case, we could probably expect good technical articles and interviews, as well as product reviews. It is a bit underground, what with its indeterminate frequency and topics.
    This is, however, free content, and I’m sure Z et al. are well aware that the ‘free’ tag doesn’t stop the complaints, but perhaps anybody with time and good writing skills can request to write an article for ALA, and I doubt the editors would be too unhappy. Free for us costs time and money for them. Not to mention, ALA could likely have more frequent and diverse articles if people are willing to submit, if, of course, ALA is willing to accept.

  30. most of the CMS being talked about here is released onder the GPL. These people put in their free time to deliver a free product… and a damn good one as well. So thank typepad, textpattern, pmachine, photostack and wordpress.

    It is good to talk about these type of tools. Tool are efficient and when they create valid xhtml and css files they make my day. Talking about them informs us about choices we have and might not know about.

  31. Does TypePad use Smarty Templates? If not, how would I change the skin and placement of all the different objects?

  32. “These people put in their free time to deliver a free product… and a damn good one as well. So thank typepad,”

    TypePad will not be free, and I’m not sure about the GPL license.

  33. good to see blogging software working towards standards compliance. this comes a couple of days after Blogger’s new system went live, dumping all browsers except IE6.0 into “simple mode, because your browser doesn’t support standards”. i hope they sort that out…

  34. Damn – it’s not like they’re getting paid off by some corporate giant… whys everyone so grumpy? Its a good tool developed with good intentions… and it’s an improvement over many of the other available options. Perhaps it’ll even be accessible… which is more than most can say.

  35. Can anyone get ahold of your code you use here for your forum? I like it but cant seem to figure it out on how you got it working? Is this somehting that you will share with me or not?

  36. Ok so didnt add a name or nothing so thought I would do a follow up post here, and no I am not trying to get the forum for myself I mean if you want to share the code with everyone cool, but I would like to have it so I could use it. I do like it, simple, clean, and to the point.

  37. Advert? Maybe. But honestly, seeing that ALA hasn’t been updated since November or so I don’t mind seeing anything new on this site, advert or not.

  38. Is this not the lamest ALA article ever?

    If it was open source then I could at least form some semblance of a flimsy link between this and “the Rest of Us”. As it stands there is not even a free version planned so thanks for the recommendation on how to spend my money.

    Now, can someone point me to the ALA article about Dreamweaver MX support for XHTML?

  39. they’d shut up about how wonderful and standards-oriented and all TypePad will be and just work on getting the thing out the door and available, heh. I have a fistful of $$$ waiting to be spent on TypePad, but it sure looks like it’s never going to arrive . . .

    I want to send them money. Where’s my TypePad?

  40. an on-topic, free article on a designer/developer site with no ads that finally starts publishing again incurs the wrath of the blogsphere. maybe those with the wrath should find a more underground resource to visit.

  41. Despite the bit of repetition I noticed in the article, the article was very helpful and I think Six Apart will do very well with TypePad. Though I was a bit unsuccessful in my attempts in install MovableType, I would like to try TypePad someday.

  42. Could not read this article bexause the lines merge together if I go ALT t-o-e-z to bypass the stylesheet and increase the text to MEDIUM on Win98. If that iis what ‘standard’ means, than heaven help people with reading disabilities.

  43. jo,
    to overcome this troubles get yourself the free MyIE2 plugin for Internet Explorer
    (http://www.myie2.com, some other plugins do the trick as well)

    You’ll be able to zoom in and out using Ctrl/+ and Ctrl/-,
    zooming will apply to text *and* graphics, CSS will get overridden;
    Mozilla1+/Netscape6+ offer the same feature.

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