The gold mine of data
What I read, got me jumping in my bed! The biggest and best thing is that maximum number of things have now been made into proper referenceable variables! :D This is the best thing that Blogger could have done, since now we don't have to create special layouts and then use a PHP page to extract the data we want. We can simply call in the data using the Blogger specified variable, and voila! Our work is done. For example, now instead of writing a loop to do a regexp check for the existence of the author's details in the comments, I can just check the commentors display name using a conditional widget tag (another coolness!) and change the CSS of that particular comment blog if it matches! That reduces my code lines to 1/4th, and has no chance of breaking because I'm using data directly from Blogger! Isn't that cool!? :D
I remember Avatar and I talking about this in the good ol' days, about how Blogger needs more data variables, so that we can use it to get content directly off Blogger. Before this, the way was to directly make calls to the Blogger API,which was cumbursome and just plain stupid. Now we don't have to do any of it! :)
Widgets themselves have been designed as methods and functions, limited to HTML itself. The same bit of code can be reused everywhere and anywhere we feel like. No more constant copy-pasting bits of code here and there. This offers a much more centralised editing zone, so that you can make your layout once and for all, and just change the widget content and CSS in the head area, without having to touch the arrangement of your page! Saves all the non-code friendly people (the coding muggles! :P) a lot of headache, and the bleet too, because they can name their methods something, and just reference them with one line. No more getting confused in tons of lines of code (my current template code is too big for me to mess with!).
One more thing which I liked is that you can make a widget from the Page Layout view, let Blogger handle the heavy duty coding for it, and then switch to the Edit HTML tab, expand the widget, and do the fine tuning yourself. So if you're a nitpicker, but don't like getting your hands dirty in code, this is the perfect way out! :)
This has been one solid upgrade from Blogger, and I don't care what people say about things being underwhelming and the new Blogger being a disappointment. I see tremendous potential and much more scope of creativity now that all new (and never before easily available) data has been laid out in front of us to break apart and use. I will not be able to immediately delve into this, but expect to see some neat stuff in the future, because my post-its are already beginning to fill up idea outlines! :)
Did you find something in the new templates editing process that I've missed, that helped you in some way? Don't be shy! Let me know, and I'll mention it in this post!