Monday, September 25, 2006

Blogging in Beta - somehow I expected more

Well, I took the plunge and transferred my blog from Blogger to Blogger Beta. I figured that everyone would have to do it eventually, so I decided I would take the plunge and be one of the early adopters. Plus, one of the features they touted was being able to put labels on the posts. This is one of the features I've lusted after ever since I saw it on Wordpress.

After making the switch, though, I'm not actually that impressed. Or, maybe I should say I'm impressed beta.

The reality is that not much seems to have changed that I'm interested in. For instance, they changed how the sidebar is handled. No longer do you have to modify the (non-standard) HTML to add links and stuff to the sidebar, nor do you have to copy and paste blocks of code to arrange everything on the blog. Instead, there is a pretty cool interface that allow you to drag and drop elements of the blog around:

The problem is you can't do anything truly interesting. Sure, now you can have an archive that is actually easy to navigate, but what about adding in picture-streaming content from things like flickr or webshots? In that case, you're out of luck unless you want to import HTML code from another site.

Something else I'm less than enthused about is the way they still force you to use the standard dozen or so templates they have in Blogger. That's right, no new templates. I would have been okay with that if they would have provided tools to build your own templates from scratch, but they leave you to futz with the same old HTML code you had in Blogger. It would be truly phenominal if they allowed you to upload pictures to use as backgrounds, rather than making you host them in a place other than Blogger.

For instance, I really want to have a template that evokes a little more feel of fear and trembling than the pastel dots Blogger selected. So, I messed with the HTML code for hours, trying to get everything to look right while hosting all of the images off-site. Ultimately what I ended up with looked more like "Calm and Comfort" than "Fear and Trembling". It's not Blogger's fault I can't pick good enough backgrouds, but it is their fault that I couldn't try out my ideas in 3 minutes rather than 3 hours. (Though you can change fonts and font colors VERY easily.) I guess for now I'm stuck with my pastel dots evoking spiritual Fear and Trembling in my readers.

All in all, I suppose I'm not truly disappointed, because there are a couple of new features that I like, such as being able to label posts, and having a useful archiving tool, but I felt Blogger Beta could have been so much more. Course, it is still in Beta, so I'm waiting to be wow'd.

Oh, by the way, the other day I was cleaning out some old stuff, and I found a video tape of a BSU Chapel Service that included Joe and Amy's Family group playing "Welcome Back Cotter". I wonder what I should do with it?


b-nut said...

I think that you can do what you want. I just don't know how...but I did it once.

I could have my old blogger blog open up to my new blog while posting in blogger...but again that is hosting everything off-site.

Check out the links for 'the problem with kevin' and 'emancipated dissonance' on my blog--they both use blogger.

Benjamin said...

Yeah, I know that it can be done, and I even know how to do it. Problem is that I don't want to.

I did the website thing for a long time, and had built a pretty sweet one from scratch via hand-coded HTML. (I think google might still have it cached somewhere.)

I'm just tired of hosting, coding, linking, testing, and updating. I want someone to do the bulk of that work for me. All I want to do is provide the graphics. Oh, and I want it for free. I suspect that Kevin, for instance, paid for his (garnered from the comments put into his HTML source code).

I guess what all this tells me is that I'm cheap and lazy. Or old. Either way.