Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Does out of beta Blogger beat out older Blogger or is older Blogger better?

So, Blogger's Blogger Beta is finally out of beta, as of yesterday, 19 December 2006. (You'll have to forgive the tongue twister in the title, a take off of Peter Piper and his pickled pepper of course, sorry but I just couldn't resist.)

Well done to Team Blogger, they must be relieved to get this out of the way before Christmas. Though it's good to see that "We’re done with “beta,” but we’re far from done with the new Blogger" - they mean to keep enhancing Blogger further, the good chaps that they are!

Switching from old Blogger to new Blogger

The Blogger Buzz post by Pete describes the switching process - but in an update of today also points out that not everyone will have the "Switch Now" button on their Blogger homepage yet as they're only letting a limited number of switches happen simultaneously.

I certainly haven't seen the "Switch Now" button for this blog yet, myself, but in a way I'm relieved that it's not popped up for me, as I still haven't had the chance to get to grips with the new Blogger template code properly, and I dread having to tinker with my (non-standard) template to get it to work properly under the new Blogger (as I should now call it, rather than "Blogger Beta").

Does out of beta Blogger beat out older Blogger or is older Blogger better?

On the whole yes, it's definitely better, I think the vast majority of people who've used both would agree.

I think getting to grips with the new template code will be harder than the old template tags though - I've already started trying, and I need to increase my supply of cold towels for sure, as I'm no coder and just rely on good ol' logic to try to figure things out.


The whizzy new features have been mentioned in many blogs, including this one (overview of features, labels etc, which I won't repeat here). UPDATE: summary now also in the official Google blog.

So I'll just add a few random further observations.

www2 it is

I see that still works for me, but, unless it was in use before but I missed it previously, we're now being pointed towards now instead (a fancy new server I presume).

No CAPTCHA for comments on own blog, hooray

Again maybe it was there before and I just missed it, but I see that you no longer have to solve a word verification CAPTCHA (type out those pesky weird shaped letters, which sadly spammers can do better than I can) in order to post to your own blog while you're logged in to Blogger (so I've updated my comments wishlist post, thank you thank you Team Blogger! Ahem there's a few more on that list if you feel like it... I know, I know, give 'em an inch and they'll ask for several inches more, no rest for the wicked & all that...).

Picture management?

I'd been hoping for better picture management with new Blogger and maybe with Blogger's increasing integration with Picasa, now officially confirmed, perhaps that's on its way?

Automatically updating the date/time on draft posts

One small niggle. The Buzz post highlights "better input fields for post dates". I'm not sure I get it, unless they mean that in the new Blogger's post editor you now have a section where you can manually type in the post date/time that you want (instead of the dropdowns that you had to use on the old Blogger where you had to set each hour, second, PM/AM, month, day and year separately, which was indeed a hassle) - see the bit on the right:

The only issue there is that the date/time doesn't update itself automatically. If you start to create a post, then save the draft, and go back to it say 3 days later, when you eventually publish it the post still bears the date/time that you first clicked "Create", not the date/time that you finally hit "Publish Post". It took me some headscratching when I first started blogging to figure out why a post I'd just published wasn't visible on my blog - that was because it was being posted to an earlier date, sometimes not even appearing on the main page.

I got round that problem by using Jasper's superb free "Keep current time on posts" Greasemonkey userscript for Firefox users which he'd helpfully updated previously. That script set the date/time of your post to whatever it was when you actually published it.

Unfortunately it doesn't work with the new Blogger, which Aditya had already spotted. So I'm just about to add my own plea for a "new Blogger" version of the script to Jasper's post.

But rather than pestering the poor man, it might be better if Blogger users were to suggest to Blogger that they introduce a "keep current time on post" feature. I can't imagine anyone wanting a draft to bear the date/time the draft was first created, rather than the time of publishing, so I feel it should be a standard feature. You can certainly type in the current date/time manually, but I'm pretty sure I'll forget (plus it's an extra hassle which could be eliminated if keep current time was standard), which is why Jasper's script was such a lifesaver in the first place. Fingers crossed here for either Jasper or Team Blogger to come through on this one...

UPDATE: Aditya's now produced a script that works on New Blogger, thanks Aditya!

Well, I shall now wait and see just when I get the button from Blogger to switch me on!


mumsgather said...

I haven't got the button yet as well but I too am apprehensive because like you, I haven't got the standard blogger template. I wonder what will happen. I'll be watching your blog for any updates on that. ;)

Improbulus said...

Hi mumsgather. You & me both!

I expect to do a lot of headscratching and muttering and probably worse, but of course as usual I shall be sharing any lessons learned.

Good luck with yours!

Aditya said...

Just wanted to update you, that I have created my own script to keep the date and time current in the post editor.

Keep current date/time on posts.

Improbulus said...

Thanks Aditya! I've posted a comment on your blog, but it would be great if you could somehow get it to keep it checked automatically when editing drafts, but not when editing a published post? (I know, give em an inch...)

Aditya said...

I think I commented on the wrong post! Hehe! Well, it's fixed now! You can have a look, and let me know if you find any bugs!


Improbulus said...

No probs Aditya and thanks so much for doing it. I've posted about it and also updated my original posts now to mention your New Blogger script.