Dave asks for a comparison between Manila and Blogger. Not a subject to be taken lightly for me. To start, here are some screenshots of the editing environments(kinda big): Manila Bump Blogger Editorial Interface Existing Desktop Editing Enviroment
First, where I think they are the same. Both provide a Web based editorial environment from which to update your site. Both allow you to do this within an HTML framework of your own choosing. Blogger allows you to edit and upload regardless of where you are and where your site is hosted. Manila, today, is strictly limited to editing pages that are on a Manila server, but you can do that from any Web connection just like Blogger. I'm sure that Userland plans to add the ability to use Manila to update sites served on non-Manila servers from static HTML, or even possibly other types of dynamically served environments. Both editing environments are compelling, but Manila's supports as many pages as you create, where Blogger is focused primarily on pages that contain Weblog entries. This ends up meaning that Manila has much wider reaching applications and can be used for every page of a site rather than just the actual Welog page. The entry interface on blogger is seperate from the actual page of content you are posting(see screen shot above.), and I think that it makes it a more friendly interface for the daily entries that it is focused on. Both environments support multiple author sites.(Which I won't be using, but others might want to know about.)
The editorial environment on Blogger 2.0 is also more mature.(Thus the 2.0 in its name.) It features a search engine that allows you to pull up your entires with certain strings in them. When I have two hundred daily entries in this new site, it would be really useful to have this feature. Manila provides the same functionality, assuming that you have the search engine turned on and indexing your site. Blogger also allows you to preview and then edit your posting before actually publishing it to the site. I would like to see more customization of the editorial environment in both apps. I would like to have one place as a site editor with all of my links to frequently visited sites and the edit interface for the site. This is possible with Manila through some template customization, but I haven't gotten to that stage yet.
My recommendation right now is determined by your situation. If you have an existing Weblog type site and already have a hosting environment and space, you're better off using Blogger. It will take far less reworking to get things up and running, and you won't have to sacrifice any other server side stuff you currently use such as PERL, Cold Fusion etc.. If you don't have these things, the space on Userland's Manila server offers you a chance to set things up from scratch and benefit from Userland's ongoing improvement of their offering. If you have your own server box, you can buy Frontier and set up your own Manila framework for your self and others.(I have a retired desktop machine serving 9 sites) It's worth mentioning that Userland has been improving their software on an almost daily basis. I have my copy of Frontier automatically update itself over the Internet every night, and those new features will appear in the interface seemingly out of nowhere. I love that.
Now, my dilemma. I like both environment's, but I have more content on my site than just the Weblog entries, and I have some plans to add to that content so I like the fact that Manila offers me the full site editing functionality. I'm not currently using anything server side with my site, so that's not an issue. Bump has been hosted by Mindspring since before I even had the domain name, and the hosting includes mail and dns. In order for me to move Bump to Manila, I'll either have to bite the bullet and build that stuff for my Manila server or continue to pay Mindspring for the space without actually using it. Another issue that I haven't touched on are my legacy Weblog entries. There is no easy way to move the two years of entries that I already have into either system's framework. I could do this with Manila by doing it by hand in the Guest Database framework that Manila is built from, but the amount of labor that would take seems pretty monumental. So I remain undecided, but leaning towards using Manila.
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I'm shocked at what a poor job existing mail order companies seem to be doing with integrating ecommerce with the rest of their enterprise. I'm doing my Christmas shopping today, and two separate vendors have sent me emails hours after I placed an order to let me know that they no longer have items I ordered.(If you don't have it, please let me know before I think I've ordered it.)