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ISBS Review: The New Blogger

By Brian | February 21, 2007 | Share on Facebook

Like many Blogger users, I’ve been wary about switching to the new Blogger tool, primarily because the old tool did just about everything I wanted it to do. But I also read this Instapundit post which pointed to a string of problems Ann Althouse was having with the new Blogger, which in turn pointed to some problems reported by her commenters. Now granted, it’s not a random sample (complaints always seem to draw other complaints), but given the lack of a burning platform, a couple of bad reviews was enough to keep me from switching.

Then, last weekend, I was doing some blog maintenance on a friend’s computer. I went to Blogger.com and got the usual “Click here to switch” message. Except this time, the option to proceed with the Old Blogger tool wasn’t there anymore, so I was forced to switch immediately.

This was a little disconcerting, since I was in the middle of a nice weekend with friends, and really didn’t have a lot of time to mess around with Blogger if things didn’t work well. I understand the desire to move everyone to the new platform and all, but a warning would have been nice. You know, something along the lines of
WARNING: After February XX, the Old Blogger tool will no longer be available.” Then I’d have been able to switch on my own terms.

At any rate, I’m happy to report that my switch went flawlessly. The fact that my blog only has ~350 entries (as opposed to Ann Althouse’s 7,000) might have had something to do with it, as might the fact that I waited until the big bugs were flushed out. Either way, (potential) disaster avoided, so that’s a good thing.

So, what do I think of the new tool? Not bad, but no great shakes.

The ability to categorize posts is nice, and the interface for updating categories on old posts seems very straightforward. I could probably categorize all ~350 of my posts in under an hour, assuming it took less than that long to figure out what categories I wanted to use. The thing is, in my years of reading blogs, I’ve never once clicked on a category link to view only a portion of the entries, so I’m not particularly motivated to categorize mine. Maybe if I had thousands of entries and thousands of new readers every day, it would make sense to organize the data that way, but at my current pace and readership, it’s probably a waste of time.

(NOTE: If anyone disagrees strongly, let me know.
I’m happy to bow to popular demand if such a thing exists).

Other improvements:

The main page allows you to go directly to the post management, settings management, or template management pages. Nice touch, but it only really saves me one click.

The Manage Posts page, in addition to adding categorizing features, now provides links to comments for each post, so I can scan the list to find the posts with comments. This is only useful if I’m perusing the blog at work, and don’t have access to my home e-mail, which notifies me whenever a comment comes in. Again – nice touch, but not revolutionary.

The post editor has a “View Rich Text” feature that may or may not have been there before (I’m honestly not sure). Either way, it’s pretty useful when you’re dealing with a lot of HTML (example: the first paragraph of this post – the one with all the links – was much easier to edit in Rich Text mode than in HTML mode).

There’s supposedly an ability to have multiple authors post to the same blog, but I haven’t seen evidence of that yet, nor have I looked real hard. Again, I don’t need the feature, so it’s a low priority investigation for me.

I’m also told that publishing has been streamlined, although this is the first post I’ve done in the new tool, so I’m about to find out. Hold on a sec…

OK, I’m back. The process is different, but I can’t say it’s noticeably faster. It used to show you a % Complete meter, and then give you a Your Post Has Been
Successfully Published message. Now, you get a spinning icon (no more percent meter), but then you get a report that details exactly what files were FTP’ed to your server (in my case: the blog post itself, the RSS feed, the Atom.xml file, the blog’s main page, and the current monthly index). As above, a small and rather insignificant change.

In summary: They’ve added a few new features, but nothing miraculous. I’d have been happy to stay with the old tool, and I’m still a little miffed about being forced to switch without warning, but I’m just as happy using this new tool as I was before. So no harm, no foul.

Topics: ISBS Reviews, Tech Talk | No Comments »

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