Radio vs. Movable Type

· Weblog Concepts

Each of these comparisons seems to take more time than the previous one, and I’m sure as always that I’ve missed some crucial features, but this entry should serve as a good starting point for anyone making a decision.
Here are some of the differences between Movable Type and Radio UserLand:
Where the Client Lives
The Radio client is a browser-based application that runs on your (Macintosh or Windows, only) desktop. The Movable Type client is also browser-based but must be installed on the web server hosting your site. (MT is built mainly out of Perl scripts.) Thus, you can access your MT installation from any computer.
In fact, if your computer is always online, you can install Movable Type directly onto your own computer—at least I know this is possible with a Mac running OS X with an Apache server, I’m sure it’s possible with a Linux box, and it’s probably doable with Windows as well.
To access a Radio installation from anywhere, you need to make sure that your main computer is visible on the Net (and not protected by a firewall), and then log into it remotely.
Where Your Data Lives
In both of these blog applications your content is stored in a database and then combined with a template when the pages are rendered. The Radio database resides on your own computer, while the MT database resides on your host server. In neither case are you dependent on the software company’s servers for access to your data. For both, if your site is damaged, you can rebuild it easily by republishing the rendered pages from the database.
Where Your Site is Hosted
Radio offers you the option of hosting your site on servers they manage (Userland.com, Weblogs.com, or Salon.com for Radio) or of creating your blog pages on your own server or any third-party hosting account via FTP.
Movable Type does not provide any hosting space and the assumption is that you are publishing directly to the same server (remote host) where you have installed the software. The provided-hosting option for Radio users is easier for newbies getting started and for those who do not wish to pay for traditional ISP hosting or manage their own web servers.
According to Bladam of Smilezone (who contributed a lot of helpful suggestions to this comparison), “one kind woman has offered up her domain and webspace to people who want to blog but can’t afford to pay for blog software or hosting. Each person gets their own subdomain.sovereignmagic.com, with MT pre-installed.”
Ease of Installation/Getting Started
As I’ve compared Blogger, Radio, and now Movable Type, I’ve come to the conclusion that Blogger and Radio are both fairly easy for a beginner to get up and running, and Radio and Movable Type both offer more features and a more easily extensible framework.
Radio seems to straddle the widest range from ease-of-starting to geeky hacker possibilities. Installing Movable Type is probably the greatest barrier to adoption (although they offer a fairly cheap paid service to help you get going and helpful troubleshooting tips), especially if one is relying on a paid remote host with restrictions on things like what sorts of CGI scripts can be run.
Having said that, MT also seems to offer the greatest amount of functionality right “out of the box.” It matches Radio’s categories functions, message-board/comment features, and templates, while also offering it’s new TrackBack feature, better entry-to-entry navigation, built-in recent headlines generation, and perhaps most importantly, an unlimited number of blogs manageable from a single installation of MT.
Radio only permits you to create a single blog, although the categories function can be kluged to simulate multiple blogs. I think you have to upgrade to the $899/year Manila product to get the multiple-blog feature—along with a lot more full-featured CMS functionality, of course.
For many people, one blog is probably more than enough, but if you are involved in the maintenance of more than one website, then you may find that you’d like to generate one or more unique blogs for each site. For this reason, MT’s multiple blog feature appeals to me.
Design Templates
For writers, geeks, and other nondesigners, and those who do not want to delay their blog while they master the fine art of web design, both Radio and Movable Type offer default templates for rendering the look-and-feel of the blogsite. Radio also offers a set of alternative templates.
Movable Type comes with only the one set, but I there are alternatives available for exchange online (such as at