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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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!