Blogger highs and woes

Thanks to the recent news and hype of Google’s Pyra acquisition, it seems Blogger has been quite bogged down recently. Lots of transfer errors. Connection problems. Most likely due to every Blogger user trying to post about the story. Unfortunately, for the past few days, on each post attempt, Blogger has been deleting my entire archive list except for the most recent entry. Each time, I end up needing to republish the entire archive again.

Similar to others, I was also leery of Blogger’s default archive URLs and naming conventions. When I set up the redesign of this site last October, I circumvented many of Blogger’s features by using my own ASP. I hacked apart the date to get it to display to my liking. I stripped out everything in the template except the entry body itself. And I created my own archive system so entries could either be viewed by month or by day with a simple toggle. (This altered archive structure is the reason I haven’t been able to use Blogger’s automatic RSS generation — all references back into the archives would be broken).

The problem with this approach is that I rely entirely on one little Archive file which Blogger updates every time I post. I manipulated this file so Blogger adds each existing entry date and corresponding filename to a long comma-separated string. I split this string into an array, which can then be examined forwards and backwards to determine the available entries for any particular date or an entire month. If Blogger goes haywire, reducing this string down to one entry, the rest of my archive seems to disappear into thin air.

Oversimplified, of course. But this little archive file is what I use to build my own calendar for daily entries, get the list for the monthly view, and determine which entries are available to display. Blogger certainly can’t do this on its own. Based on a verified date value in the query string, I scan through the archive file, pulling out relevant entries. If the date value is 6 digits, I display the entire month. If the date value is 8 digits, I display that date.

Considering all this, I’m wondering — like many — what this acquisition will bring to Blogger users. It’s an incredibly simple application that has empowered thousands of users to get into personal publishing, including myself. No doubt one of the primary tools responsible for introducing weblogging to the masses. Seems the Blogger application could benefit in huge ways from having Google’s resources and backing. But the tool may need some major restructuring to bring it to Google’s stability level.

I’ve debated recently whether or not to stay with Blogger. I’m not that far away from pushing out a few more lines of code to create my own mini-CMS, bypassing Blogger altogether. I’ve also considered making the jump to Movable Type. But both moves would involve significant changes I’m not sure I have the time or resources to deal with right now. Despite the uncertainty and speculation surrounding Google’s intentions, I’ll probably stick with Blogger for a while to see what the upshot of the purchase may be.

Update: As of June 2003, I’ve switched over to Movable Type. The archive file rebuild problem no longer exists.