I've been using this weblog, and Blogger, for the past nine years, but some recent changes to Blogger got me thinking, maybe it's time for me to make a change.
New site, new weblog, new publishing system.
If you follow this weblog in an RSS reader it's time to point it at my new home. That new home is being published using WordPress, and I'm loving it.
So, point your browser to
Weblog - iam.fahrni.ws
Twitter - @fahrni
See you on the internets.
May 1, 2010, FTP Publishing will cease to work, and by extension, so will this weblog. Well, at least it'll stop updating.
Let me explain, it won't take long
When I convinced Jay, known as Jerry to ya'll, to start weblogging he purchased his domain, and we set him up with WordPress because it was easy to configure on DreamHost. It's what they call a "one-click" install. It was brain-dead simple. Jay has been weblogging for just under a year and things have gone quite well for him and his site. Install to successful weblog in under one hour. Three easy steps: buy domain, point domain to host, install WordPress, WHAMMO!
I've been on Blogger for nine years and I've thought of switching many times, but I was never satisfied with anything I'd considered for various strange reasons; dynamic publishing or archiving was strange, etc. When Blogger made the announcement they were going to jettison FTP publishing I was a bit bummed, but I completely understand the reason they did it, they need to move the platform forward. But I digress. As I've explained in some recent posts since the announcement the new structure doesn't really work for me. This domain has sub-directories under it and I'm not sure how to map them to a Blogger hosted site. Sure rob.crabapples.net would work just fine with the new Blogger scheme, but what about rob.crabapples.net/source? I won't have access to the server at Blogger. So I decided I was going to evaluate different platforms.
I looked at Tumblr, Movable Type, and WordPress. I quickly eliminated WordPress because of my desire to have static pages. I still believe hitting the database to produce the page when it's visited isn't the right thing to do, so it was gone. Tumblr does the same thing as Blogger is proposing. They'll host your domain on their servers. Haileigh, our oldest daughter, and Kim, my wife, have Tumblr based weblogs on Tumblr's servers and they work great for them. I on the other hand don't like their archiving scheme, again, Rob strangeness. Their archives have random numbers attached to them, like this, http://fahrni.tumblr.com/post/377656270/random-shot-of-me What's with the 377656270? I'd like to have Y-M-D in my post, like 2010/02/13 followed by the post name. I still think Tumblr is in a very sweet position and would probably chose them over Blogger if they were my only two choices. My final candidate was Movable Type. It is a very powerful weblog publishing system. With Movable Type 5 you get the concept of a website that can have multiple weblogs. Pretty sweet. I installed it, gave it a whirl, and had decided it was going to be my platform of choice. Then I talked with Jay about it.
"What, WordPress is good enough for my weblog but not yours?"
Yep, that's what my brother said to me in response to a tweet about Movable Type. It got me thinking about WordPress again. I'd started bahookey.crabapples.net a couple of years back to play with WordPress so I had grown pretty familiar with it. I spent a couple of days warring with myself over which publishing system to choose, and I finally decided WordPress would do just fine and it gives me all the publishing power and customization I'd like to have, even if it publishes pages dynamically.
At some point in the near future this weblog will go into mothballs, yet another tough decision I made along the way. It'll remain as it is, unchanged, and serve as an archive to my new site, which I hope to unveil at some point in the near future, not like it's going to be a huge deal, a couple of folks will have to point their feed readers at a new RSS feed. This site will still have contain my source code projects, so rob.crabapples.net/source will not change, at least not for now, and maybe not ever.
Here's something very telling, at least it is to me, from Rick's comment in my most recent post about the Blogger changes.
This isn't a reaction to Tumblr, or WordPress, or TypePad, or anybody else. (Each are great, btw, and have lots to offer.) This is a simple challenge: we want to deliver a best-in-class experience, and creating a product with dependencies on downstream ISPs was preventing us from delivering the stable, reliable and functional product we wanted. It was also preventing us from doing more for the 99.5% of users who host with us (either on their own domain or on blogspot.com).Emphasis is mine. 99.5% of the users who host with Blogger will benefit, who can argue with that? I certainly can't.
I've been a very satisfied Blogger user and wish Blogger all the best. I hope you guys are able give us some killer features!
Rollin, rollin, rollin, rollin, rollin...
I don't hold a grudge against Blogger, they need to move their platform forward and had to make a tough decision. They're looking a bit long in the tooth. Their built in templates need a complete refresh and they need to build their community. Tumblr is kicking butt and taking names. They have a beautiful user interface and they've embraced their user, and designer, community. My lovely wife and oldest daughter are hosted on Tumblr, and love it. I'm pretty sure Blogger looks at Tumblr and says "Hey, we're falling behind here, and these FTP users are holding us back." The natural choice is to kill off FTP publishing. I'm certain they'll get a number of folks to switch, I have a weblog it makes sense to do that with, but this weblog isn't it.
The bottom line; Blogger has to beef up its platform to compete with the likes of Tumblr, Posterous, and WordPress.
You can't blame them for that.
UPDATE: Here's the post on Blogger Buzz that explains the situation. - "Three years ago we launched Custom Domains to give users the simplicity of Blogger, the scalability of Google hosting, and the flexibility of hosting your blog at your own URL. Last year's post discussed the advantages of custom domains over FTP and addressed a number of reasons users have continued to use FTP publishing. (If you're interested in reading more about Custom Domains, our Help Center has a good overview of how to use them on your blog.) In evaluating the investment needed to continue supporting FTP, we have decided that we could not justify diverting further engineering resources away from building new features for all users."
I'd also like to thank Rick Klau, a Blogger Product Manager, for taking the time to address my questions personally, it helped a lot Rick.
This weblog will go into mothballs, in a sense. The domain rob.crabapples.net will, at some point, stop being the place I publish my weblog. I've also owned the fahrni.ws domain for a long time and never really knew what to do with it. Fahrni.ws will become my new home on the web.
Since I'm making the change the next question is this, do I stay with Blogger? Tumblr is an awesome weblogging system that allows publishing to custom domains. The exact thing Blogger is going to do in March. Do I stay with Blogger, move to the more modern Tumblr, or switch to the awesomeness that is WordPress. Like most seasoned developers I'm always tempted by the idea of creating my own system, but that usually wears off after a few minutes.
Blogger is a great service and I've been very happy with it these past nine years, yowza it's hard to believe it's been almost nine years. It is, however, getting a bit long in the tooth. The changes are necessary to move the platform forward, which I'm all for. My hope is Blogger will go far beyond what it is today and hopefully catch up with, or surpass, Tumblr. I'm looking for better integration with my social networks. I've been using FriendFeed as that connector, but it would be awesome if Blogger could do all that for me. When I post to my weblog it should shorten the URL, using the service I choose at the time I publish and publish an update to my social networks with the post title and the shortened URL at a minimum. If Blogger doesn't plan on doing this I will definitely move off the platform for one that gives me these options. Tumblr provides this very functionality minus the choice of URL shorteners, they shorten with their own service, tumblr.com.
Something else that needs time and attention is the design and user experience. Something clean and functional yet powerful. I'm a bit biased, but I think you should talk to the fine folks at Hundred10 Design. They're an award winning design shop. The other thing that needs work is your default template collection, they're ok, but not great. They need to be great and you need to embrace the design community and provide user designed templates as an option to the community.
Rick Klau (@rklau), the Blogger Program Manager, has offered to answer questions about the change, and I'm very grateful for that, so we can do more here, or on my original post.
Oh, here's a question I do need answered. Can I use a custom template for publishing if it's hosted on Google servers? That's important to me.
All that said the nine years of this weblog will be maintained, as it is today, but my web presence will move entirely to fahrni.ws, including a new weblog.
Here's to the future.
I just found out from a friend tonight that Blogger will be dropping FTP support, I'm a bit bummed by that because I've been on the platform since early 2001, but it's ok, I understand the need to move the platform forward. I'm a bit skeptical about moving my weblog, and my sub-domain, to a Google controlled server. I don't have a specific reason, but I do wonder if I'll be able to ssh to the box, or drop random stuff to it, in the way I want to organize it? Also, will it still be statically published? That's something I absolutely love about Blogger, I get static pages. It's probably the ONE thing that has kept me from migrating to either WordPress or Tumblr.
I wanted to see if you could share what about hosting my weblog on Google would do for me? What exciting new features can I expect out of Blogger? Will we get tighter integration with Twitter and Facebook, among other things?
Rick, let's have an open discussion here. Please, win me over! Tell me why the change is going to be good, I'm listening. I've evaluated many different weblogging systems over the last eight years and haven't found something I prefer. Blogger is simple, I like that.
I'll have to keep an eye on what Dave decides to do, it may be what I'm looking for.
So, I think Blogger will continue to serve my weblogging needs.
I posted a couple of days back asking how it would effect what I have on my server currently and got some feedback from Prasenjeet, thanks Prasenjeet I appreciate it.
The next question, and this one is SUPER important to me. I want to publish everything as static pages. I don't want to hit the database every time someone visits this site, and I don't want to have to deal with the problem Steve Rubel is trying to deal with. When I eventually switch I'll leave my old posts sitting on the Blogger servers, because I have all the content in static HTML form, archived on my site. Who knows, maybe I will back it up another way, but I don't feel the need to import it into whatever new tool I select.
So, that being said, I haven't investigated WordPress thoroughly enough to know if I can publish pages in static form? Can it be done? Is it just another plug-in? Hey, I'm even open to exploring other weblogging tools, not just WordPress.
Ok, here are a few more requirements...
1) Cross Platform - I'm currently hosted on Dreamhost, which runs a Linux backend, and has support for all kinds of stuff. I'd like something that works on Linux and Windows, just in case I ever move hosts.
2) It must be scriptable - This is one reason I'm looking at WordPress. I'd like to do some pre-processing on my posts before publishing, so I can automagically change the header graphic based on dates, I do that manually today. Maybe silly to some, but it's important to me.
3) I'd like to install it to my server - I like being in charge of my own nightmare. While Blogger has been very, very, good to me I'd like to have more control over my publishing tool. Warts and all.
4) Must have a great community - Another reason I started with WordPress. There are lots and lots of WordPress experts out there.
Thanks ahead of time for any and all help, it's much appreciated.