August 19, 2005

i love new features

So the TypePad team added a bunch of great features this week – support for podcasting, syndicating feeds on your blog sidebar, the ability to drop a “notes” (aka “arbitrary HTML”) TypeList on to your blog, and a few other things.  (You can read all about it on Everything TypePad.)  Most of the features are the result of a one-day “scratchathon” that Ben wrote about in a post titled “The Joy of Hacking.”  For me, what was great to see is how that itch-scratching day was made possible (and easier!) by what the TypePad team’s been doing on their non-itch-scratching days – developing and extending the application framework, working to improve performance and scalability, and honing our ability to take code and turn it into a released product (doing UI fit and finish, testing, translation, documentation, etc.).

While I’m talking about TypePad, I’ll pimp a feature that’s been pimping my blog lately…  At the beginning of July we made some pretty big changes to the HTML and CSS structure of the blogs that are published by TypePad.  Those changes enabled us to introduce a slew of new weblog themes, and one really fantastic feature for a tweaker like me:  custom CSS.  The new “oldstyle” look that is sporting is actually an out-of-the-box TypePad theme that’s had its style extended with a bunch of CSS that’s saved along with my design preferences.  On it’s own, it’s a relatively small feature – work a textarea into the app, save user input to to the database, and publish it inside the blog’s CSS.  As a user there’s huge benefit – I can radically change the look and feel of my blog without having to convert to “advanced templates” and invest the time in learning the TypePad / Movable Type template language.[1]  But the majority of that benefit isn’t derived from the screen in the app we added to accept that data, it’s derived from the hard work and thought that the team put into revamping the structure of the published blog.[2]

There are similar stories behind each of the features we introduced this week on TypePad.  (Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with each of them.)  Suffice to say, I love new features…especially ones that are the fruit of the fantastic work the team’s doing behind the scenes.

[1] I already know most of those tags by heart, but still.

[2] And here’s the kicker…  The work that we did on TypePad has been adopted by the Movable Type team.  Version 3.2 will ship with a new default set of templates that will enable MT users to adopt the blog themes that were developed for TypePad.  And that work will also find its way into LiveJournal as well, which will make it easy for designers to create themes and styles for the more than 10 million blogs that run on Six Apart products.