Friday, November 02, 2007

A Blogger Experience Comparison - 2006 vs. 2007

I'm really not sure when all these changes happened to Blogger, but after not opening this account for a whole year, exploring the control panel has been a surprise and a pleasure. What prompted me really to open Blogger was Prism , which is a Mozilla product that works the opposite of what new and modern browsers are -it is simple and takes away the menu clutter and lets you just play with a specific web application. And so, while I was opening my "Web Apps" in Prism I thought of Blogger and wanted to see how it would feel to blog without the distraction of my web mail open in another tab and an article from Wired on another. Just you and application staring face to face. And so I was really surprised to find that you can now customize your sidebar and easily add content to whatever part of your blog. This was not so when I started using Blogger - I remembered sites that featured clever ways of creating Tags for blog entries, for inserting a header image ( which I wrote about 2 years ago ) and for other things that the platform lacked ( or that other blogging platforms offered ). The templates are basically the same as before ( as I remember ) except for 1 or two additional templates. But right now, choosing a template is much easier. Testing how fast it was to setup a blog - I could very well say that it is easier and much more polished than before - setup could take as fast as 5 - 10 minutes including inserting a widget, adsense and tags to the sidebar. Looking back - to add content to the sidebar meant editing the HTML and knowing what you we're doing, which is in contrast to what is capable through the control panel right now, adding anything is just a few clicks, copy-paste and save away. Letting users add javascript without opening the HTML makes customization fast and easy. 
Note:  The new blogger template customization tool needs you to upgrade first - which means that customization that you've done with your current template would be lost, but you can always go back or revert to your old template if you wish to do so.  For this blog, I used the new template for a couple of days but reverted back,  as I'm more used to HTML than XML ( you can download the XML and edit it elsewhere to customize, etc. ,but the point of the tool is to give the user freedom to change parts of the blog without understanding the code )
Overall - improvements may not be "astounding" for most, but they sure made me feel that the product as whole has matured a lot. And after a year of silence, it's nice to be blogging again.

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