Archive for the ‘Blogging Frameworks’ Category
Automattic, the company that created the WordPress.com blogging platform and oversees the WordPress.org open source project, has rejected a $200 million acquisition offer, says multiple sources. — Techcrunch
I’d said a while ago that even the $300 million figure quoted by Rafat earlier was not the right valuation for the company. Automattic does not only create software that helps people — and now a fair number of publications — publish content, they also organise it in a consistent manner using global tags and categories. They are, in fact, a content management, content delivery and allied services company, very much unlike what the world thinks of them as: a blog software company.
If they stick it out in the long run by themselves (no reason why they should not do it, since they have not taken on board any major funding in a while now, which is a good indication that the company is doing well in terms of cash flow/reserves), they would be worth a whole lot more.
Update: More evidence to back it up that WordPress is much more than a blog software company. How long it will be before they get an actual editor to run that page and push out more organised content?
Feedburner is one of the best tools that any blogger or publications could befriend for analytics or feed management. But one downside of using the service is that it is a pain when you have to link to a story when you read it in a RSS reader. For instance, the latest post on Fred Wilson’s blog (don’t tell me you don’t read him!) will have the link http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/AVc/~3/83929503/my_keynote_yest.html on all self-respecting aggregators, while the actual article link looks something like this http://avc.blogs.com/a_vc/2007/01/my_keynote_yest.html. I could, quite easily, link to the Feedburner URL, but that would poison Fred’s clickthrough numbers in Feedburner, especially if you do it from a website with pretty good traffic (which, thankfully, mine is not). Moreover, it is a pain to open the link in a browser just to fish out the actual URL. I guess they could add another link to the actual URL in their ‘flares’ link (Email this • Digg This!) that they have and make life easier for us and get one step closer to perfection.
Alex Boxworth has a yummy application that is hosted at the Sourcelabs sandbox called Skinnerbox. As most you might be unaware, it is possible to make your XML feeds look a lot more decent than the taggy mess it looks right now by using XSL transformations. Bascially, you just slap on an XML stylesheet to it (very much on the lines of the normal CSS that you use in HTML) and you get a page that looks a lot better.
Now, Blogger already ‘skins’ its Atom feed, but it is pretty plain and sadly, since you cannot mess around with the XML feed templates in Blogger (at least that is what I remember), you can’t do much more than to drool at what you could do with it. But if you are one of the lucky ones who can tamper with their XML templates, make sure that you try this one out.
p.s: IE7 already formats XML feeds internally, which is both good and bad. Users would no longer be exposed to raw XML as a result of this, but what if I want to use my own stylesheet to format my feed?
Hell has frozen over! Blogger is rolling out a new backend. On second thoughts, it is only getting a bit chilly out here, but it certainly ain’t cool enough for things to freeze over. At least not yet. Apparently, the greatest of the changes is in a place where the end user, like you and me, don’t see much of. Blogger is going off the static publishing set up (one where it would pick up content from its database and spit out static HTML and XML files based on the templates and settings you had specified) and moving to a new set up where all the content is served dynamically (the way in which WordPress blogs functions now).
The immediate change you’ll get to see is a top bar, quite similar to wordpress.com once again, that will show you as logged in and also display other useful information, if you are logged in. Behind the scenes, and I am guessing here, the entire operation would now move to an application server (probably the same server that handles the posting/editing backend) from the old set up which was probably serving a directory of files based on the host header. The other significant change is the authentication part, for which you can now use your Google account (for new blogs, not for existing blogs) or your old Blogger account. The logic there is quite mixed up and needs a lot of work.
That said, the new beta is a complete dud compared to WordPress.com. The interface is still the dated, clunky one and true to the beta label, some of the stuff is broken, like the new WYSIWYG layout editor that was spewing out Ajax debug information on to my screen when it was not functioning as intended. Access control is nice, but I did not see the option for controlling access per post and determining access on the blog level is not a fun thing to do.
The good points? Well, the archive links are laid out much better now and there are Atom feeds for posts and comments (per post too) now. There is also something called “labels”, which looks like a bastard child that resulted from a love making session between tags and categories. Pretty nice, but once again it is something they should have had yesterday.
But someone really has to get some new default templates into the system pretty soon. I am sick of seeing the same 10 all over the place. And the upgrade itself is symptomatic of how Google treats Blogger, more like a stepchild than as a product that deserves a whole lot more of attention and resources allocated to it. Yeah, I know, it is not easy to roll out features for a framework that supports a huge number of users, compared to something like wordpress.com that is new and had a clean sheet of paper to start with. But it can’t be that difficult either. After all, it is all just a data, pulled in and out of database servers and presented on web servers.
Thanks to Chris, I stumbled upon Windows LiveWriter. Till date, I’ve used a variety of blogging clients like wbloggar, ecto, Performancing for Firefox (the current one) and almost everything else that supports the Metaweblog API. And I have to say I am quite impressed. The only weak point I can see is that it does not allow easy Technorati tagging like how Performancing does. Now, for the positives:
- WYSISWYG authoring with non-MS Office mangled HTML source.
- “Web Preview” that allows you to see the post within your blog’s layout without having to publish it.
- Multiple account support (meaning that you can post to Blogger, WordPress, Windows Live Spaces etc).
- Spell check (ahem, one feature that’s badly needed for most bloggers).
- SDK to integrate other services (that should take care of my tagging complaint).
- Support for RSD, Metaweblog API and Movable Type API (in layman lingo that means it would support most of the blogging services out of the box without forcing you to wade into the ugly tech details).
- Absolutely spanking support for embedding images.
So the verdict for now is that it is really a non-Microsoft product in terms of being usable and irritation factor. There are downsides like being based on .Net and a standalone application. But for most Average Joes, this would really be a great addition to the regular blogging toolbox.
p.s: The spell checker does not have the word ‘blogging’ in its default dictionary. Now, that’s really hilarious.
I had written earlier about how it was impossible for me to change the default post category in WordPress.com. Well, there is actually a way, but it is in the wrong place, if you ask me. To change your default post category, move on over to the Options >> Writing tab and change the settings there.