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August 17, 2006

Beta Update!

Thanks very much to everyone who has submitted feedback thus far on the new Blogger in beta! I wanted to give an update on: migration, login problems and more features.

1) Migration

The biggest thing we've heard thus far is "When can I get it!" Believe me, we want to let everyone move over to Beta as quickly as possible. While we continue to increase the number of eligible users, we are doing so in an incremental way.

This is important because our highest priority is protecting user data during the migration process. By taking the approach we have, we've been able to fix bugs before they affect larger numbers of users. As it stands now, only a very small percentage of users have been affected by migration issues and we have fixed most of those problems. If you have experienced a problem related to migration, let us know and we will fix it (and don't worry your blog posts are safe!)

2) Login trouble

Rather than migration errors, the biggest problem we've seen thus far is folks who have tried to log into Blogger and are concerned because they see an empty dashboard. In almost all cases, this is because users are unknowingly being logged into the Beta instead of the current version of Blogger. The login box on www.blogger.com now accepts Google Accounts; by using the auto-complete function of your browser's password manager, you may be logged into Beta instead of the current version of Blogger.

It's important to remember, if you get logged in and see an empty dashboard, check the address bar of your browser to see if it says beta.blogger.com. If it does, you'll need to log out and go to www.blogger.com. Be sure to enter your current Blogger username and password at www.blogger.com and you will see your current list of blogs.

If you've forgotten your current Blogger username and password, you can retrieve them using our forgot password page.

3) More features

A lot of folks have been wanting to use new features like Labels but with their existing template. Or there are folks who are looking for more fine-grained control than offered with the new Layouts system.

Fortunately, it's always been part of our plan to introduce a new Edit HTML system for Blogger in beta. This system will not only let folks have the degree of customizability they desire, but it will let you create templates that are customizable with the Layouts system. Right now we are finishing the first version of this system and will be introducing in the "days not weeks" timeframe.

We are also going to be adding FTP support to the new version of Blogger which will allow open up migration to our existing external users. As we've noted in the migration documents, some of the new features rely on the new dynamic serving capabilities of Blog*Spot. We won't be able to support all of those features for our FTP users. We do intend to continue to support FTP and also come up with ways to make it possible and desirable for those folks (which includes me) to come back to Blog*Spot.

Finally, I wanted to point out a feature of the new Blogger in beta that's available today, but hasn't been much remarked on in the many reviews of the new app: updated spellcheck. This is not surprising, as our existing spellcheck is so cumbersome that many folks are probably conditioned not to use it at all. But now our spellcheck is powered by the same great experience users have been enjoying in Gmail. Check it out and let us know what you think!