Blogger finally gets an update and stops being neglected. Here are the new features of Blogger Beta, a new blogging platform:
"The biggest change of all is perhaps the least immediately visible, but it affects the entire underlying structure of Blog*Spot. What used to happen was that Blogger would create static HTML files on your Blog*Spot account every time you published, and those files would remain there unchanged until your next update. In the new version, adding a new post simply updates your information in our database. Then, when someone wants to see any of the pages on your blog, those pages are created for them dynamically, on the fly.
This makes the process of updating your blog much simpler and faster. You don't have to remember to republish anymore, or decide whether to do a republish index only or republish all. The instant you save a new post, template design, or settings change, your blog is updated. No more waiting for the publishing indicator to creep its way up to 100%."
You can make your blog private so you'll be the only one to read or you can let only certain people view it. Just enter their email addresses in the settings. This is useful if you create a blog for your friends or family.
Organize the posts with labels (categories), so it's easier to read related posts.
You don't have to deal with HTML and CSS when you edit your template. Using the new layouts feature, you can drag-and-drop to move parts of your page around, and choose new fonts and colors with just a few mouse clicks. When you change colors and fonts, you'll see a preview of the blog in real-time, so it's easier to decide what's the best choice.
"In addition to the usual feed of your blog posts, you can have a feed for all the comments on your blog, and even individual feeds for all the comments on each separate post. Your visitors can use these feeds to find out if someone responds to their comments, or to follow discussions on your blog. The default format of the feeds will be upgraded from Atom 0.3 to Atom 1.0. Also, for you die-hard RSS fans out there, you'll be able to optionally get all feeds in RSS 2.0 format instead of Atom."
The dashboard looks better and it has more links to useful places like the template or your blog. Blogger also changed the "Edit Posts" page and has removed some of the icons.
Migration to Google Accounts
Blogger moves to Google Accounts, so your account will be more secure and you don't have to remember extra credentials. You'll be able to migrate your Blogger account soon, or you can create a new blog from your Google Account.
The new Blogger version will be available as invitation-only for the moment. "The Blogger in beta program is going to start out small, so only a low percentage of people who log in to Blogger will see the option to switch over. If you're one of them, you'll see a blue box in the sidebar of your dashboard highlighting the new Blogger in beta."
If you want to test the new Blogger by creating a new blog you can do that at beta.blogger.com. Here's a test blog created with the new platform and a tour that shows the new features.
I must say it's much faster to publish posts and upload pictures. Blogger also looks much better and it's more responsive. Although the advantages of the dynamic pages are obvious, it will be interesting to see if they will handle the traffic the same as the static pages. There's one area where I don't see improvements: the comment form is still on a separate page. All in all, the much expected Blogger update is one of the biggest Google news of the year.