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.
I guess what I'm trying to say is this. If you're going to have a company weblog, or company weblogs, don't come across too stodgy or corporate, it's a turnoff.
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.
Wow, this weblog turned nine on February, 1. Happy Belated Birthday.
Also, check out their photo stream on Flickr, it's nice to be spoiled.
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.
As of this writing Movable Type is the front-runner in my weblogging tool search.
I hope to put together an official review of the systems I'm evaluating in the near future. To be perfectly honest I'd love to move to WordPress but it misses the one feature I find most important; static publishing. If it wasn't for that I'd have leapt to it a while back.
So, we're down to three systems as of today. Movable Type, Tumblr, and Blogger.
P.S. - I am well aware of WordPress caching systems. Thanks.
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'll have to keep an eye on what Dave decides to do, it may be what I'm looking for.
Dave Winer has been working to de-centralize micro blogging, that's not a bad thing, it's a very good thing. I like the idea of being in charge of my very own nightmare. I need a center point, a launch pad, that works with all these services, including my weblog, and pushes updates to Twitter, Facebook, my weblog, and the other services that are a part of the Rob Fahrni Network.
Well, I see my weblog as a personal history of my adventures in life. Apparently it's next to impossible to get your full Twitter history, Dave has done so by constantly backing it up. I'd like to do so moving forward. To do that I'll need a tool I can use for weblogging as well as one for microblogging that will push to Twitter and Facebook, as well as keeping a copy of everything for myself.
That is the question. I have server space and I'd like for it to live there. I have a desktop tool I love, MarsEdit from Red Sweater Software, but it's just a way to push data to the server. So, are there existing web services I could use to tie it all together? There's Ping.fm which offers a gateway to many different services, including Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, and Flickr, just to name a few. There's FriendFeed which will aggregate posts from your weblog, or Twitter, or Facebook, and publish to other services.
I'd like to find a CMS, or weblogging tool like WordPress, that I can use as the center of the Rob Fahrni Network. Here's what I'm after.
1) It must install on my server.
2) It needs a UI to publish directly to social networks, ala Ping.fm.
3) It needs a weblogging UI, that in turn pushes the title and shortened link to social networks.
4) It needs to publish to my weblog and publish to a microblog, ala Twitter, that's lives in my network.
5) It must have API's. One for blogging, one for microblogging, so I can point my favorite desktop at it. Basically MarsEdit would become my frontend to tweeting.
5) Everything points back to a center point, my weblog.
Instead of going to Twitter, or Facebook, or Blogger, I go to my network, where everything begins life, and it pushes to other services. For your average person this is Facebook, I want more, I want to control it. It is, after all, my content.
Hopefully I'll be able to do this with a combination of WordPress and Ping.fm. If not, maybe someone has already explored this and has a nice solution.
All this talk boils out of a post on Blogspotting, a BusinessWeek blog, that is going bye-bye. The writer would like to back up his work, I'm not even sure if he has the right to do that, but it puts the light on backup/archival yet again.
I'm one step away from moving to a WordPress based weblog, and this comes along to make me think twice, again!
How easy is it for one to migrate a WordPress based weblog to a new host? As easy as 1-2-3, or does it involve moving a database? Hopefully that process has been completely automated. It looks like quite a process, doesn't it?
Robert would be great there, no joke, no sarcasm. He's a good guy, and Google would be lucky to have him, IMHO.
I think this is just rumor, but it's a good one.
Oh, I almost forgot. I'm going to work for Steve Jobs soon. Good time to announce it. :-)
I left a comment of course because I was a part of a social network at the time, called weblogging. The only thing Twitter has brought us is a much quicker flow, along with more noise to sort through. Still useful, yes, just noisy.
On that day I found it next to impossible to get through to CNN, MSNBC, and the NY Times websites. They were just overwhelmed. I turned to Dave Winer's Scripting News for up to the minute information. Dave, if you read this, you did a great job that day.
This brings me to the title of this post. Go read Dave's account of the day, and click on the links. It's surprising how fragile our lovely World Wide Web is. A lot of the links just don't work. Sad to lose that history, don't you think?
I'm sure their account numbers shot through the roof yesterday when Robert announced on FriendFeed he as going to talk with a Posterous evangelist, exclaiming "Will today be the day?"
It's a good thing to have Robert talk about your product, he's one of the good guys, and it gives you instant credibility, even if he hasn't made an endorsement, yet.
I love having this blog and always have. As long as I'm still around this weblog will serve as my very own, one man, social network. It cannot, and will not, be replaced by Facebook or Twitter, they don't, and won't every let me run things the way I want to run them.
This is my place on the web, and they can't touch it.
So, I think Blogger will continue to serve my weblogging needs.
I'd love to try a new, self-hosted, simple weblogging system, that publishes static pages, can publish a "one-off" page; meaning not a part of my weblog flow, oh, and works with my favorite weblogging client, MarsEdit. I can use Disqus for comments and that's about all I need. I don't even need to import my old content because it already exists in static form on my weblog.
That's the system I'm after. Maybe it's time to start creating said system? I've wanted an excuse to learn Python, but I want help doing it because it's too darned time consuming, and I have other things that keep me super busy.
I also need to take another look at Tumblr, I believe I can publish static pages with that, and with Red Sweater's last update to MarsEdit I can now communicate to Tumblr from the desktop.
I think the NewsGator folks better get on the ball. Brent, Nick, are you listening?
More on the application at Adobe INSPIRE.
If you're into Pharmacy Informatics, you should be following Jay, he's one of the smartest people I know, and he knows how to make your hospital pharmacy operate to its' fullest potential. I'm subscribed out of curiosity.
You can also follow him on Twitter, @jfahrni.
The weblogging community is a loose community, Twitter is only slightly tighter knit, and Facebook is the tightest knit. Twitter and Facebook integrate search which makes it seem easier to locate people you might share interest with. I know I've mentioned things on my Twitter feed, like "I'm having a Firestone DBA, while BBQ'ing" and the next morning I have two new followers, one with interest in beer and one with interest in BBQ.
How long will it be before we have a Twitter like service that's embedded into your weblog that federates our loosely coupled community? Maybe Twitter could fill, or is filling, that need.
I'm not sure if I've made this request yet. My primary weblog, the one you're reading, is Blogger driven. I'd like to be able to set the "Reader Comments" option from the MarsEdit editor. You probably already have a request for that somewhere, just add my vote.
Congratulations on another great release Daniel.
My first post, ever.
I've looked at different weblogging systems over the years. I've wanted to replace Blogger, but I can't find a system that works the way I want. I used Radio, but didn't like the UI and it ran on my local machine. I gave WordPress a try, and loved it, but I really like the idea of publishing static pages. I don't want them generated with each hit of the website, a static page is just fine, and it's what I want. You'll notice old pages on this site do not change when the site look changes, that is important to me. So, until I find that perfect mix of CMS and weblogging system, that runs on the backend, publishes static pages, and allows me to use a client side application to post to it, I'll keep using Blogger.
It looks like it could be another nice weblogging system.
In the meantime has anyone implemented the Blogger Data API, or another variant, that would allow me to post using a redirect of sorts? I point MarsEdit at a compatible API, provide my name and password, write a little somthing, and click Send to Weblog, which really sends the text to Twitter indirectly.
So, if you're using a Mac, and you'd like a client side publishing tool I'd strongly recommend MarsEdit.
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.