Monday, October 30, 2006

Switched to Blogger Beta  

Yesterday I moved this blog to the new Blogger Beta.

I went whole-hog and switched to a new template as well. I'm still tweaking it, and XHTML compliance is temporarily gone. But for the most part things should be back to normal. RSS readers may see that every post has been modified. This was a side effect of the switch, although in fact I added categories/labels to all posts once I saw that they were going to be touched anyway.

Why switch? The mainline Blogger service (1.0) has been having boatloads of problems over the past month or two. It hasn't been very well maintained and it seems like it's just barely holding together. All the Google blogs are using the beta now, and in fact there are some very nice features in the beta that I was tempted by.

Cool stuff that you get from the switch:

  • MUCH faster publishing. 1.0 generated a zillion static HTML files, the 2.0 beta uses a database.
  • Labels, aka categories.
  • Backlinks, aka trackbacks. Better than MT's, since these are automatic. (Presumably filled in by Google crawls?)
  • Comment feeds, both global and per-post.
  • Better template management. It's more powerful and exposes more, and it's smart enough to let you add and rearrange certain things on your page with no effort.
  • Widgets, aka server-side directives in your template.

Downsides of the switch:

  • RSS reset. Everything in my RSS feeds got reset when I switched. Not a huge problem.
  • Porting customizations. To get some of the nicer features you need to upgrade your template. If you had your blog moderately customized, and change your template like I did, then it can be kind of a chore to port your customizations over. For me it took about a day.
  • Limited Safari support. Posting from Safari works just fine. Template editing seems like it has to be done in Firefox.
  • It's a beta. And knowing Google, it will probably remain a beta for another three years or so. Dude. Can't you guys commit?

I haven't seen any other major downsides yet, but I'll let you know.

3 comments:

  • Connie said...

    Thanks for the summary, Drew! I've been frustrated, too, but a little nervous to jump over to Beta because, well, it's Beta. 8-)

    Cheers,
    Connie Crosby

  • Drew Thaler said...

    I can say that it was surprisingly easy to do the initial transition -- if you just switch and don't do anything further, it's almost exactly the same as before.

    My problem was just that I decided it'd be fun to try out the new features. I was really looking forward to labels and backlinks, two things that Blogger has seriously needed for a long time now. But both of those require changes to your template.

  • Connie said...

    Good to know! I'll keep it in mind when I make the switch.

    Cheers,
    Connie