What's been happening since September?

This summer was an exciting one: Movable Type 4.0 was released, Movalog was redesigned with a gorgeous new look and I was ready with a series of updates for many of my plugins. But after a flurry of plugin releases, activity waned. In fact, several plugins were left in a state of perpetual beta, and even more plugins were left finished, but unreleased, in my code repository. Why? In September, for the first time in my life, I set my feet on American soil as I became a college freshman at UCSD majoring in Computer Science (shockingly enough)!

But in between then and now there was even bigger news... For as long as I can remember, the ability to add custom fields to store meta data has been one of the most requested features of Movable Type. During the run-up to MT 4.0, this was confirmed with a public poll where custom fields functionality was easily the winner for the "which feature should be built in" question. With the results, Byrne Reese officially stated that it was something Six Apart was considering for a future release of MT 4.x.

Concerned that my CustomFields plugin may one day become obsolete I questioned whether I should update the plugin for MT 4.0. In the end I decided to upgrade CustomFields to MT4 because I felt that CustomFields version 2.0 was significant leap forward which deserved its time in the sun. Plus, MT 4.0 introduced a killer new set of plugin APIs. And so, I released a public beta of CustomFields. For over a month I worked on it heavily - creating a lot of exciting new features like custom tables and asset field types.

Ultimately though, college sucked up every ounce of my free time, not to mention my motivation (freshman year is ridiculous amounts of fun!). Although CustomFields' was quite stable and in use by a number of web sites (including movabletype.org, the Plugins Directory, the Members Directory and Learning Movable Type, it still had a lot of small bugs that had known and documented fixes, but that I had little time to release another beta (or a final version). I was uncomfortable with leaving my customers hanging high and dry.

Thankfully, it was at this time that Six Apart approached me regarding the possibility of acquiring CustomFields for future versions of Movable Type.

It was a relief as it really was the perfect solution not only for me, but also and most importantly for CustomFields' users. By bundling this plugin with Movable Type, Six Apart could create a far more seamless user experience and it would meant that my users would see more updates and improvements made to the product as time went on. Needless to say, I would not be writing this post if I didn't have good news to share with my users. I am incredibly pleased to announce that CustomFields will soon be bundled with Movable Type.

Huh, really? I don't see it anywhere in MTOS?

CustomFields is now available in the free and public beta of the next version of Movable Type's Commercial product, and will be included with that product when it is finally released. As to whether it will find its way into the free/personal/open source versions, I cannot say because honestly, it is not up to me. But given my conversations with Byrne and Six Apart's track record with folding paid features into the core (e.g. MultiBlog, blog cloning, user pics and other features) I would not be surprised to see CustomFields in all versions of Movable Type in future versions.

What's changed since your beta?

Playing around with a copy from Six Apart, it appears that it is almost identical to my plugin. The interface been touched up in places but I'm told that a number of bugs have been fixed and improvements made when working with non-MySQL databases.

Unfortunately, Six Apart has not yet added support for storing data in custom tables but I understand that it is an extremely high priority for them to address in future versions.

Should I upgrade? Is it easy to do?

For the initial beta, you may find that you can no longer access your custom field data from within Movable Type. Don't panic! Your data is still safe in the database but hasn't been migrated to the new format that CustomFields uses to store data. Six Apart has assured me that they are committed to ensuring that all my customers are able to easily upgrade to MT 4.1.

As to whether you should upgrade? If you don't store data in custom tables, I recommend you upgrade once the final product is released (although I do encourage you to participate in the beta of MT 4.1 to make sure that as many bugs as possible are found and squashed).

Will your version still be available?

Unfortunately for my MT4 customers, my version of CustomFields is no longer available. For users of MT 3.3x, however, the corresponding version of CustomFields (2.0) will still be available.

It is important to emphasize that I no longer own the code for CustomFields and as a result I will no longer be maintaining it. If you are in dire need of bug fixes, I recommend you purchase the commercial version of Movable Type 4.1 which will include the fixes you require.

What if I recently bought a license for CustomFields, can I get a refund?

First, let me say how extremely grateful I am to all the licensees and those who so graciously made donations (I've fallen behind in my thank you notes, unfortunately). It is through your continued support that I've been able to develop all the stuff I have and your support has been a crucial source of motivation for me personally.

If you purchased a commercial or enterprise license for CustomFields after 17 October 2007 and would like a refund, please drop me a line (paypal@movalog.com) and I will promptly issue you a full refund of license fees.

How much did Six Apart pay you for CustomFields?

The amount is not something I personally care to discuss, but I wouldn't have agreed to it if I didn't feel I was being adequately compensated, and that the agreement didn't benefit my users, not to mention the Movable Type community as well.

What does this mean for users who have previously purchased Custom Fields? Will Six Apart now provide support from Six Apart for the version of Custom Fields that I purchased?

If you have purchased a commercial license for CustomFields, then you must already have purchased a commercial license for Movable Type. Therefore you are entitled to a free upgrade to Movable Type 4.1, which not only includes CustomFields but also a level of support I was never able to provide on my own.

As far as I understand, Six Apart however will not provide support for the Custom Fields plugin itself - only the version of Custom Fields that comes with MT 4.1.

I will also stop providing support for my plugin once MT 4.1 is released.

What about your other plugins?

Believe me, I've heard you loud and clear and it's pained me that many of my plugins (and updates to plugins) have languished in my code repository without any updates. I'm currently debating several ways of remedying this situation and will hopefully have decided on a route by the New Year!

32 Comments

Chad Everett said:
on Dec 13, 2007 1:11 PM | Reply

Hey Arvind -

The beta actually doesn't include the "acquired" Custom Fields (I don't know if it's scheduled for a future beta or what), making it difficult to put this version through it's paces.

Do you happen to know anything about the plans for distributing the new version?

Other than that, congratulations!

Dan Wolfgang said:
on Dec 13, 2007 1:30 PM | Reply

Yay! Good for you! Congratulations! All that stuff.

More importantly, MT is a better product because of this move!

Federico said:
on Dec 13, 2007 1:59 PM | Reply

Hi Arvind, I was wandering whether it would be a fraud to use the copy of CF I already have (downloaded as a personal blogger, as I run it for a no-profit .org site), on MTOS 4.11.

Thanks anyway for this fully-clarifying post!

Byrne Reese replied to Chad Everett's comment:
on Dec 13, 2007 7:19 PM | Reply

@Chad - I assure you. The Movable Type 4.1 beta does include Custom Fields. It is important however not to confuse MTOS with the MT 4.1 Beta. The Beta is for the commercial version of Movable Type, which is the only version initially that will include Arvind's Custom Fields plugin.

othello said:
on Dec 13, 2007 8:22 PM | Reply

Ah that would explain the lack of updates!

What version of customfields will be included? Will it have the bug fixes. ability to delete an asset, ability to show the asset title rather than only the filename?

The upgrade process is going to involve some work especially on my clients site where they have a lot of resources managed via CF. A DB backup and crossing of all fingers I expect...

Arvind Satyanarayan replied to Federico's comment:
on Dec 13, 2007 8:50 PM | Reply

Hi Federico, yes you may continue using my CustomFields plugin as long as it meets your requirements. However, proceed with caution because many bugs still exist with my version of the plugin which are most probably fixed with Six Apart's version (which will also see updates and improvements over time).

@othello I'm going to have to deflect that question to Six Apart/Byrne Reese, I am not intimately familiar with how the plugin has changed.

K T Cat said:
on Dec 14, 2007 12:03 AM | Reply

Have fun at UCSD. It's my old alma mater!

demonsurfer said:
on Dec 14, 2007 3:34 AM | Reply

FYI - http://www.movabletype.org/beta/whats-new-in-41.html

What's New in Movable Type 4.1 : These features will be available to paying customers only: Custom Fields

Like an idiot, I paid full price of about US$79 for personal MT3.something during the small time when it was required and not discounted. Also made 3 donations to movalog. Unfortunately the MT license did not roll over to MT4, and custom fields is not available unless I pay YET AGAIN.

Sorry if I sound ungrateful, but I'm a poor bloody student too! I've supported MT for years (which is why I paid for it back then), but not too happy right now.

Not your problem Arvind, I'm just venting.

demonsurfer said:
on Dec 14, 2007 4:19 AM | Reply

My apologies Arvind, I've sent you an email. If possible, please delete my recent comments, they were posted as an unthought knee-jerk reaction that is not even related to this site directly, and certainly not issued with clarity of thought.

Andrew B said:
on Dec 14, 2007 11:44 AM | Reply

Demonsurfer, I know where you're coming from - I'm also a little cautious about what the future holds for my CustomFields. I'd rather hoped to move over to MTOS in the future, but have used CustomFields for one site, and obviously I want to make sure I can migrate and do everything I've been able to do in the past.

I do think this is a good move for Movable Type though - CustomFields provided something that should have been in the core for some time, and whilst it's been great as a plugin, it always felt to me that it could easily have been broken by Six Apart changing something. That they're taking it over has to be good news for the long term I think. I'd hate to think that all the hard work that's gone into CustomFields, would suddenly be broken by, say MT5!

Chad Everett said:
on Dec 16, 2007 4:17 PM | Reply

I did actually find the addon in the commercial beta, after somehow managing to miss it. Sorry about that.

I also put together a plugin to convert RightFields data into CustomFields, for those who are interested. Enjoy.

http://jayseae.cxliv.org/2007/12/17/convert_rightfields_data_to_customfields.php

Carlo said:
on Dec 17, 2007 9:31 PM | Reply

I agree... Custom Fields being available only with the commercial version is a huge let down. I've been relying on custom fields to power this great website and now I will have to spend money I don't have to get it... let's hope things change for the best.

josedante said:
on Dec 19, 2007 4:19 AM | Reply

I guess you will still be able to install the Custom Fields plugin on MTOS, right? Hopefully Six Apart will sell a license separately.

How about those who have data in a custom database. When will the 6A version support this feature. Upgrading to MT4.1 would be like downgrading for them on this regard.

josedante said:
on Dec 19, 2007 4:20 AM | Reply

I guess you will still be able to install the Custom Fields plugin on MTOS, right? Hopefully Six Apart will sell a license separately.

How about those who have data in a custom database. When will the 6A version support this feature. Upgrading to MT4.1 would be like downgrading for them on this regard.

Sunny Chiba said:
on Dec 20, 2007 4:19 AM | Reply

Hey Arvind, been reading your blog for quite sometime...and just checked back after a while. You are at UCSD as in San Diego? I live right up the coast in Encinitas! Welcome!

Sunny Chiba said:
on Dec 20, 2007 4:22 AM | Reply

Hi Arvind, been reading your blog for a long time...in matter of fact I got in a heated discussion with a couple guys because I suggested that you head west when you decided on going to a university. Anyways, surprisingly enough I live right up the coast in Encinitas (North County San Diego.) Welcome!

Scott Graves said:
on Dec 20, 2007 7:16 PM | Reply

What about Blogroll for MT4?

Jagan said:
on Dec 21, 2007 3:42 PM | Reply

Hi Arvind, The Custom Fields is a fantastic plugin. Could you please use your (now) good contacts with Six Apart and suggest that bundling custom fields along with the free/open source version would significantly heat up the competition with WP?

Thanks.

Martin Kelley said:
on Jan 9, 2008 1:05 AM | Reply

So let me get this right: SixApart bought this plugin and then took it offline for all but commercial licenses? Haven't they learned anything? Is SixApart trying to alientate those of us who have stuck with them through the WordPress rise? I've been using the similar RightFields plugin but it hasn't been upgraded for 4.0 and I'm guessing it probably won't (why upgrade a function which is sort of available). So right now personal/free licenses are without this functionality at all.

One of my community sites is very dependent on the extra entry fields (it's not commercial in the least and I'm very strapped for cash). The procedure to upgrade a site to 4.0 is a lot of work--just as much work as moving to WordPress. I don't want to have to live through another SixApart "it's free/it's not free/it's free/it's kind of free" circus and see critical plugins disappear. We're still waiting for the dangling carrot of MTOS and we have no idea whether any kind of CustomFields plugin will be part of it?

Hitting Google, yep here it is, part of the default WordPress install. My loyalty is really being tested.

This is no critiques of you Arvind. Congrats on the sale.

Arvind Satyanarayan replied to Martin Kelley's comment:
on Jan 9, 2008 1:12 AM | Reply

Martin, in all fairness, the "Custom Fields" implementation in WordPress is more like Brad Choate's KeyValues plugin with a simple GUI. Brad's plugin remains free so, for free, you can have the functionality that is built into WordPress.

demonsurfer said:
on Jan 28, 2008 6:48 AM | Reply

MT4.1 is out at last. 6A are asking $99.95 for a personal user to have access to the professional version of MT, which is the only version that has customfields. That also comes with 12 months support, which most people would rarely if ever use, and a few other features such as the universal template set (until someone ports it out and makes it available for free). So.. instead of a donation, customfields now effectively costs $100, for a personal user. Byrne thought that was reasonable. $49.95 would have been the max imho.. $99.95 is too much for a student sorry. Just thought it a good idea to post here Arvind, as I'm sure lots of users come here looking for the plugin. I'm very sad they've monopolized on your hard work Arvind - I hope they paid you well for it.

Best of luck with your studies for the new year. I'm finally a senior and should be mostly done with my degree by the end of 2008. ..but then there's my masters etc to do..

demonsurfer said:
on Jan 28, 2008 7:36 AM | Reply

I better add to that - the license also covers upgrades (maintenance). I suggested having a cheaper license without 12 months support, however that has been declined for now. Note that support includes maintenance (upgrades). Byrne went on to inform me the following: "while $99 is where we are at now - we are constantly re-evaluating pricing and licensing. So it is never final. Nor is it set in stone that Custom Fields will remain a paid feature for ever..." so there's hope for the future, but for now, it's too much for this student to pay.

I guess if someone else with the know-how were to write a plugin...

Also note that if you were testing the beta and release candidate versions of 4.1 and upgraded to the final release (personal version), you retain the Professional Pack features of customfields and universal template set..

It sucks to see dishonesty pays, but I have not succumbed to that temptation.

Chad Everett said:
on Jan 28, 2008 12:47 PM | Reply

Just join Pronet:

http://www.sixapart.com/pronet/overview

You get a free commercial license and support. Kosher? Maybe, maybe not, but then you don't have to worry about it.

demonsurfer said:
on Jan 28, 2008 2:37 PM | Reply

Thanks Chad - thought I already was a member, but apparently not. Am now :) Cheers.

Anon said:
on Jan 29, 2008 12:19 AM | Reply

MT 4.1+ with Customfields is now $300. Good luck.

Byrne Reese replied to Anon's comment:
on Jan 29, 2008 1:01 AM | Reply

MT 4.1 + Custom Fields is actually only $99 at its cheapest - assuming of course you are using Movable Type for personal use. Plus, if you were using Custom Fields for Commercial Use and Movable Type for Commercial use (which you naturally would have had to be doing), the combination is now actually cheaper then it otherwise would have been.

ixley said:
on Feb 20, 2008 8:20 AM | Reply

cheers Chad - this is something I was looking forward to trying out. It's at least somewhat reassuring that SA recognizes their community and developer base with this sort of Pro Net access. Hopefully Custom Fields will make it into the free version soon.

Mouse said:
on Mar 3, 2008 1:05 PM | Reply

This really sucks. How can Sixapart buy a popular plugin and then hold the users hostage? A plugin that was practically free now cost at least $99 and if you're an open source-user you're out in the cold.

Thanks Arvind you're a real pal!

Pai said:
on Mar 20, 2008 5:55 AM | Reply

my loyalty is really2 being tested.. :-/

Martin Kelley said:
on Mar 30, 2008 5:18 PM | Reply

Sorry if I was too strong in my comment above. I'm a split personality: an impoverished blogger/social media creator with a budget of $0 (losing money for every hour spent) but also a developer doing more and more media sites for good money. I generally start out using particular web services, plugins, etc., on my own hacked-together projects and then find a use for them in paying client sites. For this split personal/commercial use licenses are ideal.

I definitely want to see a model that gets you paid for the good work you do for the MT community, esp. for those of us benefit from the ability to offer clients a wider suite of MT-integrated services.

PS: I'm building a WordPress site for a client who insisted. Blech, no more tested loyalty, why would someone choose that over MT?, grin!

Ann Ray said:
on Apr 24, 2008 6:43 PM | Reply

Another disappointed camper, though I'm happy for you Arvind on selling the code!

This would be lovely for managing the external links, book author, cover image, company name, etc. in my resource posts. But not lovely enough to switch off my host's managed service, so hopefully they'll start offering more than the basic license.

While I like seeing MT buy and incorporate popular plug-ins, I'm also a little concerned about maintenance. A bug in the Textile+SmartyPants interaction was reported in October. From MT's perspective, this is a nit in the overall code base. To the original developers, it would have been a more significant issue, and probably fixed by now.

Tungsten said:
on Jun 11, 2008 8:21 PM | Reply

I'm dying here :( I used CustomFields in the past (3.3) to associate a thumbnail image and path to a set of photos on my blog. It worked great!

I just upgraded to MT 4.1 and the Professional Pack and used the CustomFields Upgrade Assistant to migrate my data. Unfortunately this only migrated the structure and I have several hundred entries with no more thumbnail or photo galleries.

Alas! I know all of the data is still in a backup of the mt_plugindata table but can't seem to figure out how to re-run the CustomFields Assistant. Any ideas from others who have upgraded?