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August 03, 2003

TypePad hands-on review

TypePad launches a Preview Release tomorrow. Over at their site, you can get a pretty good idea of the features and pricing of the new product, which is essentially a hosted MovableType with enhancements.

I was interested in TypePad for a few reasons: it's got built-in support for photo albums, for moblogging (from a phone, Sidekick, etc.), and of course, since it's hosted, you don't have to worry about keeping the server up, tracking upgrades, etc.

I was invited to beta-test TypePad on the 2nd day of the Tour de France, and I had been considering what would be involved in runing a site with the frequency of Gizmodo or Instapundit, so I decided to set up a TypePad weblog dedicated to the Tour.

Setup was remarkably easy. There are a number of 2-column and 3-column templates available (check out TypePad.com's recently updated weblogs to get an idea of the available templates. They're very clean, and there's a simple way to change the default colors and typefaces. Having never done more than kick TypePad's tires, I had a working site I was happy with in less than an hour.

Another useful improvement debuting in TypePad are TypeLists. TypeLists are server-driven scripts that manage your marginalia -- all the blogrolls, recent material, archives, and other links that typically live on one or both sides of your content. TypePad can automatically build FOAF files from your blogroll, or automatically generate Amazon referral links (with cover images) from your music or book lists (all you need to enter is the Amazon ID number of each item). There's even a graphical wizard that lets you drag the TypeLists around your layout until you have them just right.

I haven't done more than mess around with the photo gallery feature, but I'm impressed. TypePad automatically generates thumbnails, builds next-previous links, and manages titles and comments. Here's someone else's photo gallery called "best of CNN".

Another new-to-TypePad feature is moblogging, support for posting from phone, pager, or other device by e-mail (including attached images). TypePad generates a random e-mail address when you set up moblogging, and e-mail to that address (optionally with a text key within the message) gets posted to your weblog or photo album.

Stats tracking is simple, if a little rudimentary. You can see the 20 most-recent referers, but all you see are what page they came from, and when they arrived. A button lets you page through the referers 20 at a time, and you get a rolling cumulative total for the previous hour, previous day, and previous week. There's no way of seeing your peak hour or peak day, or of seeing your most common referers. You can't see search engine queries in aggregate, and can only see the search term by doing a mouseover of the search-engine referer. If you're used to webalizer, you'll find TypePad's stats a bit lacking.

A few complaints about MovableType have been addressed: The standard TypePad bookmarklet is Safari-compatible, and you can link to individual comments in TypePad.

MovableBlog has a TypePad review with some good comments.

Some of the features of TypePad are likely to move into the forthcoming MovableType Pro.

If you're interested in being a charter TypePad user, let me know. Beta-testers are allowed to pass along a 20% lifetime discount to 20 friends, so you could get the $4.95 plan for $3.95, or the $14.95 plan for $11.95.

Update 2/12/04: I've reviewed TypePad after 6 months on the service.

August 3, 2003 in Weblogs | Permalink

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Comments

I would LOVE to get a lifetime 20% off
TypePad promotional code if you have any left. Thanks so much,

Mike

Posted by: Mike at Aug 9, 2003 11:21:48 PM

Any discounts left. Forever grateful if you do. Have been researching TypePad for the last few days (for my 1st blog) and was just about to sign up.

Thanks - Mike

Posted by: Michael J. Gaskey at Aug 15, 2003 2:25:38 PM

Nice review. I too would be interested in the 20% discount. Let me know via email if there are any left.

Posted by: Joe Friend at Aug 18, 2003 7:52:36 PM

Better-than-average review thanks.
Any discounts left?
Between your review and the Guardian's, I'm sold on Typepad.

Posted by: William Plasencia at Aug 20, 2003 11:02:32 PM

Yes, I'm interested in the discount as well.

I have lurked for a while, but this prompted me to post. :)

Posted by: Apache at Aug 26, 2003 9:19:26 AM

Good Review! I too would be interested in the 20% discount. Let me know via email if there are any left. Thanks.

Posted by: Donna at Sep 13, 2003 9:20:41 PM

Interesting Perspective. I have been researching for hosting sitess. DO you still have that Code around? If so, I would appreciate it. thx

Posted by: Abel at Sep 16, 2003 10:23:26 PM

Hey there, do you happen to have any codes left? If you do, I can point you to a charitable organization you might want to donate it to.

Well, okay, the organization is me, but I promise to be a good little blogger.

Posted by: Mike at Oct 3, 2003 3:15:48 PM

Do you still have any discount codes left? I'd love one if you do, Thanks.

Posted by: Jen at Oct 30, 2003 4:09:15 AM

Hi, Any discount codes left? If so, can I have one? :) Thanks. Darryl

Posted by: Darryl Collins at Nov 5, 2003 9:15:19 AM

Thanks for the TP review. Although you posted your discount code offer a while back, if there is one more available -- I'd like to use it for my org.

Gracias!

Posted by: Ani at Nov 19, 2003 2:57:49 PM