I've had some passing comments and discussions lately about why I'm not running Wordpress (or Textpattern, or Movable Type, or something). Some people find it a bit odd that despite having my own domain and the opportunity to install whatever I want, I am still running with Blogger. Well, I do have reasons and I think they highlight some of the issues with choosing a blogging tool.

I will admit that I periodically think about switching to something else; particularly due to things like the poor feed handling and lack of category/tagging features. That said, I really don't have the time to maintain an application. I'm not interested in maintaining an application even if I did have the time :) So realistically before I'll switch I'll have to get really annoyed with Blogger, or really impressed with something else.

So anyway, why am I using Blogger?

why blogger?

I'm not claiming any of this is unique to Blogger, but here are the reasons.

  • Free (albeit with the blogger bar if you host on Blogspot)
  • 100% template control with simple tags.
  • There is some evidence of standards buy-in for the default template options (although Blogger is still far from perfect in terms of standards/accessibility).
  • The application is remote hosted:
    • I don't have to maintain it or worry about security patches.
    • The output can still be hosted on my own domain

    • NOTE: in 2010, Blogger abruptly announced the end of publish-by-FTP support. This means you can no longer host a Blogger-powered blog on your own server, you can only delegate your domain or subdomain to Google to host it for you.

  • Habit - I'll be honest, I've been using Blogger since 2001 and habit plays a fair part in these things.
  • Now owned by Google, so relatively unlikely to disappear overnight.
  • Pretty good uptime and performance - outages are fairly rare and speed is usually fine.
  • Can update with a bookmarklet.

All told, I have a pretty good level of control over the site; it's mostly the finer details that start showing up the limitations of the system.

the downsides to Blogger

  • Free, so you get what you pay for in terms of feature additions and support. That said, I've rarely needed support.
  • The comment system is a little bit clunky and some people think they have to have a Blogger account to leave a comment.
  • Syndication/feed handling is rudimentary and "configured" by other choices/settings. I currently work around some of the issues with a little PHP/XSLT.
  • Feature addition and bugfixes take a long time.
  • They don't support Opera all that well, most bug fixes for Opera are "use Firefox".
  • I suspect Blogger just doesn't have enough geek cool factor, particularly for standardistas. I've often had the impression people think it's one step removed from LiveJournal, which is a journal/social network system and not a blog tool per se. Geek status is an odd beast ;)

Blogger also tend to do some braindead things like release a new feature without writing the support pages for it. For example, the new linkback feature: A Consuming Experience: Blogger: backlinks feature (not quite trackback). If they'd released the details of the blogger tags, I'd probably be running linkback already.

other tools

I've looked at other tools and plenty of them look good. Some have problems with their hosting setups; eg. Wordpress seems to have a lot of maintenance downtime and Textdrive-hosted Textpattern sites seem plagued with availability issues (apparently attributed to 'growing pains'). Obviously these issues aren't really about the blog tool. Plenty of tools have a high "nifty feature" count, even if that does increase the "nifty undocumented feature" count as well.

As yet, however, I can't find any alternatives which are free, remote host the application but publish the content to my own domain... and that's before we even consider standards compliance and the actual application features. Plus I haven't even touched the problem of converting between systems, which is one of those things where I do not believe the vendor hype - I expect the process would be painful and/or produce less-than-desirable results, much like converting between email clients.

So for now I'm sticking with Blogger.

PS. Feel free to comment with your thoughts on what you run and why you chose it!