typepad goes live!


For the past several weeks, I've been participating in the beta test of the new Movable Type-based hosted blogging service, TypePad. The service will be going live on Monday, and it's now fair game to blog about it. So here's my take.

I love MT (it's what powers this blog), and its range of features. But there's no question that it takes a fairly high level of technical sophistication to install and configure it. When people who want to start a blog ask me how to go about it, I end up either installing MT for them, or (reluctantly) pointing them to Blogger's Blogspot hosting service. (It's not that Blogger isn't a good tool. It's just that MT is...well...better. It has integrated comments, trackback functionality, customizable archives, and other things that just make it work in a way that's more elegant and functional.)

TypePad takes the power and flexibility of the MT engine, and puts it into a user-friendly hosted service. At the basic level, it is truly point-and-click. No writing HTML, no tweaking CSS templates. Drag-and-drop layouts, menu-based component addition, and automated content generation take much of the stress out of blog setup and maintenance.

Beyond that, TypePad adds a lot of nifty features that aren't available (yet, at least) in MT. One of those is an excellent photo blogging tool. It alone is worth signing up for, I think. Easier to use and configure than the iPhoto/.mac combination I used to use. As easy as Ofoto. (Hmmm. Would be even more perfect if Six Apart cut a deal with Kodak to provide prints from TypePad photoblogs...)

The big problem with hosted services, of course, is the dependence on that service for your URL. If you decide to switch from Blogspot to TypePad, for example, you can't keep your blogspot.com address. The idea that you should keep content you value on a domain that you control has recently been termed Robb's Law, based on John Robb's experience moving his blog from a hosted service. That's why this blog now lives at mamamusings.net, rather than www.it.rit.edu/~ell/mamamusings/, too.

TypePad, however, will be offering domain mapping on Plus and Pro accounts, which means you'll be able to have your own domain point to your TypePad site. That's a big, big deal. And it means I can recommend TypePad to new bloggers with a clear conscience.

The only downside of TypePad vs Blogspot, so far as I can tell, is that Blogspot offers a free option (which includes banner ads), while TypePad's basic service starts at $4.95/month. A small price to pay, I think, for an ad-free, feature-rich service...but there will still be people drawn to Blogspot for free service. On the other hand, TypePad is wisely offering a 30-day free trial option for new users, which means it's easy to try it first and see if you like it enough to pay.

I'll be signing up for a TypePad site, even though I still plan to run mamamusings here on a full MT engine on its own server. I'll probably move lawley.net to TypePad once domain forwarding is enabled, and use it to set up blogs for family members.

Meanwhile, if you count yourself among my friends, I might be able to help cut you a good deal on a brand-new TypePad account of your very own. Drop me an email (not a comment here, please) if you're interested.


I'm trying out a typepad account. So far, I am not loving it.

The purpose: a family-type blog which is basically aimed at 4 grandparents who live far away. So I want to post photos, brief accounts, and etc. of my 2-year old son. I want it to be completely separate from invisibleadjunct (eg, don't want to create a new blog on a subdomain). And I want it to be password protected.

So Typepad seems like a good choice. One thing that's great about it: password protect is built in, couldn't be easier.
Also, the photoblog thing looks great. And the pre-designed templates are very nice.

But. I'm finding it very difficult (no, impossible) to customize the templates. I'm trying out the pro, because the others don't give you access to your html stuff. But then, I realize that 14.95 is just a bit too expensive. And even with the 8.95 per month account, customization options are very limited. And in any case, even with access to advanced template options, I can't figure any of it out (eg, where are my images? where do they reside after I've uploaded them?). E.g., I want a banner at the top of page with both text and an image. I'm sure I'm using an acceptable type of code (img src), the same I use at Invisible Adjunct, but it's just not working.

I dunno. It seems to me that either Typepad is neither fish nor fowl, or else maybe it's me who's neither fish nor fowl. I know too much, though I know very little. That is, I don't really know what I'm doing, but I'm used to having total control. And I can figure things out with documentation, but typepad does not seem to have good documentation.

Okay, sorry to ramble. Maybe I should have posted this on my own blog.

Have you checked out the Everything Typepad! and the Typepad User's Group?

Both have threads on customizing the templates. I also talk about it a bit on my blog....

It takes a bit of trial and error, but it can be done.

Thanks for the tips. I will check out your blog. I did spend some time browsing the Typepad User's Group, but I have to admit that by this point I was feeling very cranky.

At the moment I'm really leaning against Typepad. One reason: the password protect feature is not available with the basic service. So at the very least, I'm looking at 8.95 a month. But 8.95 does give you access to your templates. And now that I've used MT (which I love), I don't think I can do without that kind of control (even though I don't really know what I'm doing, and am often just muddling through). So I'd have to go with pro, at 14.95 per month. And 14.95 per month is a bit steep.

But I'll keep looking for info on customization.




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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on August 1, 2003 10:34 PM.

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