A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

The Blogger to WordPress Switcheroo

Armen from iFFECT.NET posted a message about making the switch from Blogger to WordPress. I moved TsukuBlog from Blogger to WordPress in February 2007, and I am very pleased with the results. I feel like I have a lot more control over the blog now.

I jumped ship shortly after the new Blogger came out because it looked like they were not going to support publishing to your own server (by ftp) to the extent that I wanted them to. The new customizable template system that they introduced was just not compatible with ftp publishing it seems.

In particular, I wanted to make better use of labelling, but it seemed that Blogger was not going to upgrade the labelling system for ftp blogs. I was able to add labels to posts, but I could not put an automated list of them on the side bar. I also couldn’t make the monthly list of past entries expand and contract. The customizations that were made available to blogs that were hosted on BlogSpot or through their “custom domain” setup were not made available to blogs that were published by ftp. Since a lot of content in TsukuBlog stays relevant to the community even after it leaves the front page, I felt that our readers needed a better indexing system than the new Blogger provided to ftp blogs.

I felt strongly that I wanted to continue to host the blog on its own server (as a subdomain of the Alien Times domain), so when it became clear that Google was not going to focus any more energy on developing options for blogs that are published by ftp, I decided it was time for a move to a platform that would give me more options.

Which One Should I Use?

QuestionFor people who are just setting up a blog and trying to decide whether to use Blogger or WordPress, I would say that they are both good systems, but that there are a few key differences. Blogger is probably easier to use if you do not have a lot of experience making websites. If you don’t care about where the blog is hosted (on your own server or Google’s) and you don’t want to fiddle very much with the basic blog template, then Blogger will probably be fine for your needs.

– easier to use than WordPress if you are not familiar with basic techniques for managing websites on your own server
– easily customizable if you host your blog on the Blogspot server or use custom domains
– backed by a large company (Google), so features are robust but sometimes slower to come into existence because they have an obligation to do a lot of testing before launching new features

– you will need to be a bit web-savvy to get started (in order to set up the database, for example)
– easily customizable
– backed by a large group of independent developers, so there are lots of interesting customizations available, but they are not always compatible with each other (that said, I haven’t had any compatibility problems with the 11 plugins that I have installed so far)

(Please keep in mind that I am only comparing the versions of Blogger and WordPress that are hosted on your own server. I am not referring blogs that are hosted on the Blogspot or WordPress servers.)

One complaint I have with WordPress is that it is a bit of a pain to upgrade to new versions. It is not difficult, but it is fiddly, so I tend to put off upgrading longer than I would like. Other than that, I would say that I am very happy that I made the move from the new Blogger system to WordPress.

The basic difference is that you need to be a wee bit more tech-minded to use WordPress. If you do know a little bit about hosting websites on your own domain, and you think that your blog is going to expand in the future, I would recommend WordPress. If you just want to start typing and you are not really concerned about messing with the guts of your blog, then Blogger is a fine choice.

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