Blogger Update Seeks to Widen Blogging Community

In its first major upgrade since being bought by Google, Blogger adds e-mail posting to blogs and offers new ways for bloggers to get connected.

Google Inc. on Monday launched its first major revamp of its Blogger service since acquiring it last year, adding new ways for bloggers to post content and to interact with one another.

Blogger now offers a comments section on blogs and lets bloggers post content through e-mail and create profiles of their background and interests. Beyond the new features, Blogger redesigned the user interface across its site and publishing tool, said Evan Williams, Blogger program manager at Google.

"Our aim is to bring blogging to a wider and more mainstream Internet audience," Williams said. "This is the biggest batch of new features weve done ever."

Google acquired Blogger in February 2003 from San Francisco-based Pyra Labs, a company Williams founded that launched the blogging tool in 1999. Blogger is one of a growing number of blogging tools, such as Six Apart Ltd.s Movable Type and UserLand Softwares Radio UserLand.

Since the Google acquisition, Blogger has improved its back-end scalability and reliability, added e-mail support and switched to a completely free service, Williams said.

The addition of e-mail posting is part of Bloggers strategy of being a tool for nontechnical users. Through a designated Blogger e-mail, users can send content for posting from any device supporting e-mail, including cell phones and PDAs.

Bloggers update also focuses on community building among bloggers, Williams said. Along with being able to add a comments feature on blogs, Blogger users can set up their own profiles. Links to those profiles can be added to a blog and within comments on other blogs. The profiles also automatically link to other profiles of bloggers who share common interests.

"We are focusing on helping users connect to one another, and that has always been a core part of blogging," Williams said. "With the combination of profiles and comments, we make it more built in than its ever been before."

While the profile feature has some similarity to social networking, Williams said Blogger does not include friends-of-a-friend functionality, where members designate friends and connections among them are displayed.

Among other new features, Blogger has added 27 more design templates and has provided what it calls "post pages," or individual Web pages for a blog post. And a partnership with Picasa Inc.s Hello online photo-sharing application lets users post photos to Blogger blogs directly from Hello.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about emerging forms of blogging discussed at the DEMO conference.

As far as the future, Williams declined to offer details on whether Blogger would incorporate Googles search capabilities.

Earlier in February, Blogger added XML syndication feeds to its service, opting for the Atom format over rival format RSS (really simple syndication). That raised the ire of RSS backers, and Williams said the new Blogger continues to support Atom but not RSS.

Blogger chose Atom, he said, because it was gaining momentum and because Blogger could use it as a syndication feed as well as for its Application Programming Interface (API), which was also being redone at the time.

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