Not long ago I started noticing the option to log in to the new Beta version of Blogger. At first I was unsettled because when I did, none of my blogs were actually…there. However, my fears were assuaged when I was told that this is just the beta process and that eventually my blogs and I would be invited to switch over.
Now that time has come! As of yesterday I changed over, so I can take advantage of all the new features and upgraded bits. My regular blog hasn’t really changed much yet, but I made a test blog which you can refer to as you continue reading.
For starters, there is no more publishing screen with that slowly increasing percentage that FINALLY reaches 100. The new process is called “dynamic serving” and is much quicker. Instead of html pages that just sit around until you post or whatnot, they are created for readers straight from the database every time. The database can apparently be updated much faster. To me, making pages from scratch every time SOUNDS like it would take longer than just updating the html. In practice, however, it’s easy to see that this is not the case. It is indeed noticablely speedier. Just goes to show that I am no techie!
It is also a lot easier to customize the layout. In fact, their new system is CALLED “Layouts.” The idea here is that rather than having to mess with html to create things like a link list or a place for a picture to go, etc, you can use the new customization tools. It really is a lot simpler; I’m pretty sure anyone could get the hang of it right away. Your template, instead of being a big scrolly window of html, is now just a box with other boxes arranged inside. You can drag the boxes around to put them where you like or add more boxes. For instance, you can put your link list at the bottom after your entries, your “About me” section at the top, and add other features such as lists of favorite things (or random things…) anywhere you want. No more worrying about code, unless you’re just that advanced and really want to, in which case there is that option as well.
Another nifty editing trick is that if you are suddenly struck with the urge to add a new movie to your list of favorites, you can just click on the handy wrench-and-screwdriver icon next to the list on your blog page when you’re logged in. This will bring up the box just like it would if you were working on it in your template. There is also a little pencil icon next to the permalinks for more immediate post-publication fixes.
So far, all these features (and more, such as Live Journal-esque privacy management) have me pretty impressed with the improvements. The people at Blogger are committed to an ongoing update process, so we can all look forward to further tweaks and additions.