As I mentioned earlier, Blogger's great. With one pretty annoying exception: the glaring omission of categories. Now I have managed to fake categories using del.icio.us and the kindness and ingenuity of strangers. But I've still been kind of envious of all the cataloging, viewing and customization options available to the WordPress crowd: the calendar, the attractive templates, the fact that it's an industry standard, and of course the built-in categories, all make WordPress very appealing to me, as an arsty type and as a systems geek. Let's face it: Them WordPress kids got it all.
Up 'til now, I've always thought the only way I could experience the lovliness that is WordPress was to roll my own blog. This would mean getting a host that has all the proper services -- php, MySQL, whatever else -- installing WordPress, learning it, setting it all up, getting a domain name. Well, you get the idea. I'm not a professional blogger, so I decided to forego that whole rigamarole. When lo and behold -- and I don't even remember how I found them -- I stumbled upon Blogsome.
Blogsome is a lot like Blogger. It's free, and super easy to set up. The domain structure is very similar. But what's cool about Blogsome is that it's basically WordPress. For dummies. And I like that. As far as I can tell, Blogsome sits on top of a good old-fashioned, standard WordPress database. So the templates you use and/or create and/or edit should work with any version of WordPress. And, theoretically, your entire blog could be ported to another install of WordPress should you ever decide, God forbid, to move it or host it yourself. Now I say "theoretically," because I haven't seen any way to get the actual files. So this could be an impossibility, and this is one way Blogger is better. Blogger allows you to host your blog on a different server. But I have no idea what sort of database Blogger uses. I only know that their templates use a proprietary, Blogger-specific syntax. Personally, if I'm going to learn a template syntax, I'd rather it were something a bit more open and extensible. And hosting my blog on another site doesn't really help me much if it still requires Blogger to do anything with it.
Again, all this is basically inspired by my desire for a good category system. The way I'm doing categories on Blogger works. But it's a royal pain-in-the-ass to maintain. On Blogger, each time I write a post, I have to do a whole bunch of stuff to categorize the article: First I have to add links at the bottom of the post to the various category bookmarks at del.icio.us. Then, using a special bookmark that needs to exist in any browser from which I want to do this, I have to add the post to del.icio.us and apply the appropriate tags. This may not sound so bad, but when you compare it to the Blogsome way, it sucks eggs: In Blogsome I simply click the checkboxes of the categories I've defined, while I'm writing my post, and the story is added to the categories and the links are embedded in the post. Sweet!
My initial reasoning for staying with Blogger was that moving would take away precious time from my blogging. But now, implementing categories is taking time away from blogging, and making the whole experience much more painful than it apparently needs to be.
Another nice thing about Blogsome is that it is self-searchable. Searching Blogger yields Google results, whereas searching your Blogsome account yields hits from the blog itself. This is can be implemented in some truly remarkable ways. Blogsome's also incredibly customizable. And the post editor is fantasic.
The main drawbacks are threefold: 1) I'm here now. I'm fairly comfy, and I'm not sure I feel like picking up and leaving. Plus, there are at least a few folks out there who are reading this, and I don't want to disrupt The Readership, though it's simple enough to simply redirect any traffic to the new site I suppose. 2) Blogsome seems a bit slower than Blogger. I'm not sure why, but it's just a bit slower. Probably not a big deal. 3) I'd need to move all my posts to date over to the new site. And this actually supplies a partial reason to move now, if ever. I mean, this site is young. I haven't written that much. Yet. So if I'm going to move, the sooner the better.
Anyway, if anyone out there on the BBI (Big Bad Internet -- and that's you guys, in case you hadn't figured it out) has any suggestions regarding any of this, I would absolutely love to hear them. Anyone use Blogsome? Are there any other advantages or disadvantages to using one over the other that I might not be aware of? I'll be waiting with baited breath. And then I'll go make up my own mind.
And, by the by, here's a sample of The Adventures of Systems Boy on Blogsome.
As usual, I'll keep you posted.
(Yes, that was quick.) I've discovered two more drawbacks to moving to Blogsome: 1) I'll either have to move or lose all my comments, not that there are that many, but still... Bummer. 2) The post editor, as far as I can tell, only allows editing raw HTML, whereas in Blogger, if you use Firefox, there's a nice, simple GUI "Compose" mode that lets you format links and text without having to type the code. This starts to cancel out the ease-of-use of categories. I mean sure, I may not have to hand-edit all my categories, but I'll have to hand code all my bold text, italics, and links. Oy!
(I'm on fire with the updates.) Turns out there is a graphical editor for the posts at Blogsome, but just like at Blogger, you need to edit in Firefox, not Safari, which is how I managed to miss it. Duh! I must say, though, it's not quite as nifty. It actually just uses something they call "Quicktags," which are just a quick way to insert the code you need, unlike in Blogger's version, which is kind of like a mini-Dreamweaver. A real GUI HTML editor.
Another Blogsome drawback: Editing the template is not as easy as at Blogger. Blogger's template is all stored in one file, and you can preview this file as you edit it. Blogsome, on the other hand, breaks the template up into multiple files -- one for the main page, one for the stly sheets, etc. -- and you can't preview your site as you edit. You must save the changes (which can be reverted only by restoring from a backup made by yourself or the system) in order to see your changes. Ugliness.