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February 12, 2004

TypePad six months in

I first posted a public weblog entry into TypePad July 6, 2003, in an attempt to parlay my top Google ranking for “Tour de France update” into an experiment: What would it be like to set up a single-issue weblog that was updated very frequently? The appearance of the TypePad beta program meant I could experiment with a new site and a new hosting service all at once, so I signed up.

I wrote a review of my TypePad experiences in August 2003. To sum up, I compared it to OS X: powerful, reliable, and easy-to-use. Now, after six months with the product, I might update that to: “It’s like OS X, if there were no Terminal access available.” Most of the frustrations that I’ve had result from TypePad’s streamlined interface, which doesn’t offer a method to get “under the hood” to customize the service.

The service has been very reliable. I’ve never been unable to load my weblog, although there have been two or three times when I couldn't get to the control interface, and TypePad reported that they were maintaining the service. I don’t generate a lot of traffic, but I’ve had a spike recently, and they’ve had no trouble handling it, and my billing plan looks like it will more than handle the additional traffic without racking up additional charges.

Statistics are still fairly lacking. You get an instantaneous dashboard, displaying your hits in the last hour, the last day, this week, and for all time. But it‘s hard to tell what a “day” is; right now (Sunday night, Feb. 8th) my stats have 3286 hits today. About 24 hours ago, they were showing more than 4000 for that “Today” and about 24 hours before that, they were showing about 3300. Yet my hits for “This week” show 7025 hits, less than the sum of the days.

Also, that “Today” number would require about 130 hits per hour, but I've checked stats three or four times today, and the “In the last hour:” number has never been above 100. Maybe I had some heavy peak traffic that didn't correspond to when I was checking, but I would feel a lot more confident if I could audit my own logs. And I had a 58-minute gap in my logs recently, when TypePad reported no visittors or referers, but my home server was still serving quite a few graphics requested by “blogs.com” pages.

There’s no way to use MT-plugins, which are available to do hundreds of different things.

There’s (as far as I can tell) no way to delete, or manage, individual files once you’ve uploaded them. Presumably, deleting an entire weblog or photo album deletes all its files, but otherwise, what goes in, stays in. It’s easy to justify this with “If you publish it, it should stay published,” but it’s another measure of control lost.

Once you switch to advanced templates, you're on your own for syndication. I had working Atom templates for as long as I used the basic templates, but when I upgraded, I lost them. On the other hand, I can, with some effort, customize my feeds to provide different content via RSS, Atom, or whatever format I like.

Even with all the little irritations, I’m very happy with the service. The pricing is fair, the look is highly customizable but with attractive defaults, there's support for moblogging, and a number of new features aimed at fighting comment spam. I get a fair number of referrals from the "Reccently Updated Weblogs" sidebar many TypePad sites support. With the addition of Google AdSense and Amazon Affiliate links, I can easily justify what TypePad hosting costs.

February 12, 2004 in Reviews, Weblogs | Permalink


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