Blogger has been testing its beta version for quite some time now, but the problem was that only a select few blogs got the invite to switch over to the new system. Otherwise, it was a tedious process – signing up for a new account, and then later hoping that they’d figured out some way of transitioning.
I’d decided to wait, and yesterday my wishes came true after posting the one on ‘Behind Code Wars 2006’, I got an invite on the publish page to join Blogger Beta. I immediately signed up. That way, I got to transition to the new system, rather than making a new blog. It was indeed something, since only select blogs are being chosen for this testing period. Note that once you switch to beta, you can’t go back to the old one, but don’t let that warning scare you, the new system is MUCH simpler.
The first thing that strikes you is the integration with Google’s other service, since now you have to use a Google Account to sign in; your earlier Blogger ID will be merged.
It took some five minutes for the system to shift everything on my blog, rather than the standard two, but maybe that was because mine is a large blog. The nice touch was I did not have to wait on the ‘Shifting to the new Blogger’ page, since it allows you to browse away, and then mails you on your Gmail account when its done.
Dashboard links are better organized, and presented in a much more compact form. Interface is much faster, since you don’t have to wait for that ‘Publishing…’ sign, nor do you have to click on little blue buttons when some change has been made to republished – the new system makes IMMEDIATE changes automatically. And believe me, compared to the old one’s tortoise-like pace, Blogger beta is blazingly fast.
Settings pages are same, except for the addition of the ability to have separate feeds for comments too. Readers may note that all feed URLs will change too, they aren’t the same as in the old system.
One more thing as far as team blogs are concerned for those thinking about shifting – all your members must have a beta account to contribute to your blog, so do keep a note of that. Blogger will automatically send them invites to join the new system (and I hope my contributors do…). After transitioning to beta, you can continue posting on blogs on the old system, that won’t be an issue.
A new feature in the posting thing, apart from faster publishing, is the ability to label (or tag) your posts into different categories. Now this may sound like work in the beginning, but after two years of blogging and loads of posts, it would be much easier for your readers when they want to navigate around to have posts categorized.
The biggest change that you’ll see in Blogger beta is that in template editing and layout, which has become MUCH simpler now. Earlier, only people with proper knowledge of xHTML, CSS, and XML could’ve tweaked their templates, which, for a majority of bloggers, goes against the fundamental premise of ‘push-button publishing’. Blogger beta rectifies that, by adding a WYSIWYG style editor to add and edit portions to pages, known as widgets. If you create a new blog, you’ll be using the newer system. However, if you transition from old Blogger, it will remain with the old style, until you explicitly switch over from the template menu. Don’t worry though, it has a nice backup feature that’ll store your old template, so that in case you don’t like it, you can change back to the old thing, whenever you want.
Adding widgets is very easy, and there are far more features right now, like an integrated blogroll list, and a feed link list. Plus, AdSense integration is easier, just that adding the AdSense for Search is difficult and does not render properly on the blog.
Rest everything is similar to the old Blogger, but with faster loading and publishing times.
Do try out Blogger Beta…