My blog has moved into Beta!

Please note that my blog has changed addresses! It's all new and improved. Hence this old friend of mine had to be left alone. You can visit me at The Last Word (beta). It's all warmed up for you! :)

I know I know, everyone one of the bleet (copyright belongs to Avatar) has been taking apart the template editor and having a look under the hood, but because of reasons I have stated again and again, I have been a little behind the fray. However, I just spent the last 10-15 minutes pouring over the 5-6 Blogger Help pages which deal with Page Element Tags for Layouts, Widget Tags for Layouts and Layout Data Tags (I am giving the names so that people can refer to these pages for information on the new cool stuff you can do!).

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! :)

Reloaded fo'sho!

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!

Please note that comments made here will no longer be answered. If you would like answers, you can either mail me, or visit my new blog at The Last Word (beta)
Sorry for the inconvenience! :(

i miss that part of the good old days, when we brainstormed things..

Widget code + JSON support = 200%+ more hackable.

Annoyances will always exist, and I have already found data that they still won't give us nicely. But I'm on your side and theirs - the BETA has made our lives easier and given us the ability to focus on making cooler and cooler things ;)

Add A Comment? Its Nice To Get A Feedback! :)

We know Google keeps secrets, and big ones at that! But well, something you just can't hide I guess! Check out SearchMash. I don't know how many people know about it, but its a playground for Google developers to test out and play with things. I guess they test out things that will eventually become a part of Google, maybe even become Google 2.0? :P

However, my intention was not to enlighten people about SearchMash (although you can go have a whirl, its quite cool! :P ). My intention was to tell you about what one can achieve by using SearchMash in a way Google didn't want you to know. Again, since Google didn't want you to know, they can easily change it and/or remove it as they please! So don't make mission critical applications using this. Now to the good stuff!

Google to the rescue!

I remember crying countless number of times of a Google JSON feed for their data, in the same fashion Yahoo! provides JSON(P) feeds for almost all their services. Turns out that Google has always offered it, just never told us! :( So now, through SearchMash you can get your dose of JSON filled with Google content, including their main Web Search! Yep, you heard that right! No more restricted access to just blogs! :) Now there can literally be a Native Web Search, and very easily too! But how do you get the stuff? Glad you asked :)

You use the following query, replacing [term] with what you're searching for:[item]

Or you can use:[item]?i=11&n=10

Which returns 10 results starting from the 11th results! Now this is something that can really be exploited nicely by people. No more working with their SOAP API to pull results, just use simple JSON and get creative :)

A more (just a little more) detailed explanation is given at Google Operating System. Go ahead and check it out! :)

Please note that comments made here will no longer be answered. If you would like answers, you can either mail me, or visit my new blog at The Last Word (beta)
Sorry for the inconvenience! :(

I had first heard about searchmash a few months ago I think. I hadn't really used it much, and didn't realize they provided JSON output.

With todays announcement of JSON for Blogger, Calendar, and Base it seems Google is getting on the JSON bandwagon. Which is very nice.
    Anonymous phydeaux3, on Wed Nov 22, 01:40:00 AM  

Yep! Google is finally beginning to answer our little pleas! Don't you just love 'em? :)

Add A Comment? Its Nice To Get A Feedback! :)

I remember saying that social network sites just aren't worth it, and with blogs coming up, people waste their time. But ever since I've left home, and friends and people I got to know there in the past 10 to 11 years, the significance of these has come to light. They really help in keeping touch with people who've gone far away and you've lost contact with. Chances are, they'll show up in atleast one of the networks, and presto! You found your long lost friend again! :) But now that I've used the likes of hi5, Orkut and Facebook (my favourite! Haven't given others a whirl, its hard enough keeping track on these), I think I've figured some of the key ingredients which make one of them my favourite, and not the other.

They aren't perfect!

There still are problems with these networks however, and I am not asking you to signup for any of the above right now. The biggest annoyance is the crazily profuse amount of mails you'll suddenly start receiving, alerting you of friend requests, group events, and what nots! There are options to turn these off, but the initial reaction is that you're being spammed. The second is that random people will start adding you, and before you know it, your friends circle is full (if you fall for the noob mistake) of people who you don't want, tucking away the important people in a corner. Facebook does things right by actually asking you to estabilish relationship or a relating factor with the person you're trying to add. Once the other persons confirms that, he/she is added! These network sites should take steps to put barriers of similar kinds, so that you don't have a 1000 new 'friends' in a couple of days. Hi5 suffers from this, so beware!

Blogging can't keep circles together. They become specific, and is a good way to get to know 'new' people, and create your niche, get your thoughts across in a specific group. Hence, social networks are required. Its all part of the Web 2.0 boom (no longer a boom :P ), and like everything else, only a few companies got it right. Facebook got it right to quite an extent, by first putting restrictions on who could join, then opening up to everyone but again limiting to only certain types. For all these reasons, if you're looking to start with a network, I'll suggest giving Facebook a trial run.

What do you think about these social network sites? Are they really worth the time? Have they helped you in anyway? :)

Please note that comments made here will no longer be answered. If you would like answers, you can either mail me, or visit my new blog at The Last Word (beta)
Sorry for the inconvenience! :(

I use social networking sites for the same reason you do. With all the moving around it's hard to stay in touch with the people you've known. Orkut, however, makes life simpler.
    Anonymous Anonymous, on Sun Nov 19, 09:30:00 AM  

Add A Comment? Its Nice To Get A Feedback! :)

It seems the human nature to cringe and not accept anything in its entirety takes many different forms and in different facets! I have not been following the Blogger Beta developments that closely, and my attempts to do the same have been met with a lethargic failure. Just too much has happened in too short a period of time for me to keep tab. So I have left that part go, and just following whatever happens in the present! Hence, if I say something here which seems to clash with some estabilished fact, please forgive my ignorance and do not start a flame war in the comments! And do point me in the right direction! :)

The word on the street

Now, coming to the point at hand. Before Blogger Beta, there was seldom a day we would not hear someone say 'I wish Blogger could ...' or 'Why can't Blogger have ...'. Now, Blogger answered our queries with a solid comeback and threw so many features at us that we didn't know where to start working and fixing up our blogs to incorporate those said new features. Not to mention Blogger made it easy on themselves by handing out transitions only in sets. So my question now is that why are people cringing that Blogger Beta isn't good enough? Where is it that Blogger has missed out?

Categories, next generation blogging feeds, better bridging of the gap between code and non-coders, and what not. Blogger definitely made it easier for everyone to blog! And eventually, they released the new HTML editor which helped coders also join the fray in their own way. Why then do we say that Blogger's set of features are industry standard and they could have done better than what they currently have?

The reality

True, the update came in late, and following the posts on Bloggeratto, it seems like Blogger is planning another update (Avatar calls in Blogger 3.0). What more can we ask for? Updates upon updates, which seem to be going in the right direction. Why do we then call the update underwhelming?

We shouldn't be greedy now, and take the updates as they come, and trust Blogger to keep the good times rolling. Blogger is, as singpolyma has stated, way ahead of any other blogging platform out there, even if the features are at par (and not ahead) with them.

But at the moment, we need a reality check ... Does Blogger need any immediate updates that some of us asking for? Or can we do something to bridge the gap ourselves, and not be lazy? :P

Please note that comments made here will no longer be answered. If you would like answers, you can either mail me, or visit my new blog at The Last Word (beta)
Sorry for the inconvenience! :(

Wordpress Vs Blogger . If google really wanted to do something right they should have first compared it to the best blogging platform. The number complain about blogger is that it not been well seo'ed. Try posting on a blog and blogspot blog. the blog has more chances of coming in the Search engines than blogspot.
Why because

1. Well developed Seo'ed Themes.
2. Pings Various services automatically.
3. It is made by bloggers.

Overall Google did a really shoddy job. They should fire the developers. For so long it was underdeveloped. They could have done a much better job. Half the features are half baked.

also you might want to read

Blogger vs, true WordPress - duh WP wins, it's a all-control-is-belong-to-me hosted-by-me platform!

Blogger vs ... last I checked you couldn't get into all the nitty-gritty code on, or even install just any old plugin you want. Somehow... Blogger wins, even pre-beta ;)

I should stich all my comments like this together in a post sometime... hah.

Hmm... I just got one mail alert instead of three... weird! :|

Made by bloggers or not, I used to like Wordpress only because of the features. However, Blogger has now matched WP on almost all of them. Plus, as Stephen points out, Blogger has the code of your blog open to you for anything you might wanna do with it! WP doesn't do this natively, and wants you to get your own hosting before letting you even look at your code! Thats a major restriction, since you can't customize your own blog. Blogger definitely scores here.

I don't know about the SEO problems. My blog shows up on Google searches as well as blog searches, with the pages showing up being the most popular ones (my hacks usually), so I really can't say much. But you'd think that a search company would take care of the basic search necessity in their own product, won't you? How can this be a problem?

i of course have answered back.

You and Singpolyma are correct Aditya. That's why I agree with you! :-)

The features of the new beta are great and more than enough for now (considering they still have to migrate everyone over to a completely new system). Adding in even more at this point would be unwise.

Now that doesn't mean there still aren't additions that could make Blogger even better, but them not being included in this initial beta/migration to the new platform isn't an issue to me.

Blogger has been improved tremendously, and the beta shows that Blogger isn't being ignored like we had thought for some time. There are more things to come I suspect, and even at this point Blogger has been improven by a huge factor.

I'm gonna ignore the wordpress seo comments because I'm laughing too hard. :-)

Avatar is just getting old and cranky.
    Anonymous phydeaux3, on Tue Nov 21, 09:32:00 PM  


"Avatar is just getting old and cranky."


---because not being a issue to you....

add that you being synonym of cranky, and you will find i am quite amused by you response.
    Anonymous Anonymous, on Tue Nov 21, 11:17:00 PM  

I thought you would enjoy that. :-)

Oh, forgot to add, it's great to see some new posts from you Aditya.
    Anonymous phydeaux3, on Wed Nov 22, 01:34:00 AM  

Thanks Kirk! As you can see, to some level, I am positively back! :) And also, thanks for agreeing with me ... Avatar is a bit too much to handle sometimes! I don't like to argue with cranky old men! :)

But yes, the features and good and plenty. What's the point in revealing a hundred new features, and then expect the people to understand them all in quick time to use them all. Better than that is this, to put them in phases, so that people get used to them, get creative and use them, and understand all the little nitty grittys to them!

"Adding in even more at this point would be unwise." -phy3

I agree. They need to iron-out all the errors from the existing beta and then get every one to migrate smoothly. May be they can make the whole blogger code open like wordpress so that the developer community gets to play around with it while they are busy with this work. First in line I would love to see will be Singpolyma's inline comments with cocoment tracking :)

I do not think that wordpress gives any better visibility in search engines but the possibilities with a self hosted wordpress are unlimited. And one can always use feedburner's pingshot and ping goat.
    Anonymous Anonymous, on Thu Nov 30, 05:20:00 AM  

Even with the existing new system of coding the template and creating hacks for Beta Blogger, it's getting a little hard for me to understand and get used to the changes. And I know code when I see them. I don't know how people not used to code would handle getting into raw HTML editing of their templates.

So, it's actually a good thing that Blogger is slowly revealing things instead of making a thousand changes. I also don't think Blogger will incorporate hacks as being native to Blogger. Labels can be considered an exception since it's something that every respectable blogging platform needs, and we were just improvising by hacking our way around. Blogger wants us to hack, and hack away to pieces. They will be doing some creative thinking of their own to come up with something we never thought of! :)

And finally, yes, I'd prefer Blogger over anything else really. Wordpress might use PHP to make it a little more powerful, and yes, a self hosted Wordpress blog might be the most powerful thing on earth. But at the end of the day, nothing beats power with the word free attached next to it! :)

I do agree with the comment on being to much to handle....i am just that good.


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