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Blogging, Reviews, WordPress

WordPress.com – First Impressions

Have had some time to evaluate WordPress.com since I signed up two days ago.

Signing up was rather easy without having to fill in too much details. My first impression when after having logged in was the sleek looking interface.
After having used WordPress for over two years now this was the coolest look I found.

The dashboard is a lot more functional, but I think it can be developed still further.

The first thing I got down to was editting my Profile and the Options for my settings. Though, the profile page is extensive, I am a little disappointed by the amount of options available here.

Options pages

You have five option pages as of now.
Personal just allows you to turn on or off the WYSIWYG editor (will get to that later). This I think could very well go within the Writing Options page.

The General options page is pretty much the same as that in 1.5.

However, the Writing Options page was highly reduced. Probably because you can’t post by email here on WordPress.com and because your posts automatically ping Ping-O-Matic

Under Reading options only the compress option is missing. And unfortunately compression is also not enabled as seen from the speed test here.

The Discussion options page has remained exactly the same as before.

You no longer have a Permalinks page because this is automatically taken care of by WordPress.com
I think this is probably so because permalinks are controlled using mod_rewrite in the .htaccess file which would be sitewide. (I could be wrong about this).

Anyway, the permalink structure is somewhat how I want it, so no complaints. Would have loved the Archives page however like I have it on my personal blog.

The WYSIWYG Editor

This is one of the main additions out here as WordPress always lacked a WYSIWYG editor. Though this really wasn’t a problem for technical persons like me, and the quicktags helped the lesser technical ones, it could have been a constraint for non-technical bloggers.

Though the current editor is very nice and easy to use, it kept popping up many javascript errors. Plus it didn’t have the HTML how I wanted it to and so I just gave up and disabled it.
I’m back to using the quicktags which are much more convenient.

Just one complain here I found so far is that the code for more doesn’t work as before, which has resulted in this very long post on my index page! 🙁
I think it is removed from the post by the filters when saving the page thinking it to be a comment.

It also strips away my target attribute for links, which is very irritating 🙁

I’m hoping they solve it soon.

The Presentation area a.k.a. themes

Now this is something that almost everyone on WordPress.com is complaining about. For one there are only eight themes to choose from. This would have been good choice but for the fact that they are totally non-edittable.
The theme authors have done a good job without doubt, but imagine hundreds of users on WordPress.com with only eight themes means a lot of similar looking sites.
Also, the themes are a few popular ones which means a lot more similar looking sites.

I don’t know whether they will ever allow customized themes like . But even if some degree of customizability like changing the header image and sidebar can help a lot in making my blog unique.
I’ve settled in for Connections Blix right now.

I do hope they add my Connections Reloaded theme, because it is a lot more functional than Connections and still maintains the same look.

Composing you post a.k.a. Write

The Write section has been highly improved. The main focus is now on the Title and the Post content.
The sidebar contains most of the other options. These are all in dynamic drag, move and drop into position boxes and can be minimized and maximized as per convenience. This setting is retained in your browser window (not across browsers) even when you return.

The image uploading has been integrated into the write page unlike 1.5, but I would really like it if they would include the IImage Browser Plugin.

You also get 26MB space here on WordPress.com which I think is a very good amount for a totally free service. Ofcourse, for a user like me who has his own sites this may seem a little small. Unless you are planning to upload really big files, I don’t think you will run out of space so easily.

Another cool feature added is the Post Preview. It is not real time however, it displays in an iframe the page of your site so you will know exactly how it will look, unlike earlier where you had a limited preview.

Managing your blog

The manage section has retained its functionality as before. I noticed that a new section for Referers (because of a plugin), which allows you to view and blacklist referers to your blog. Quite useful indeed. Just hoping that a lot more plugins are added to help better the blog.
WordPress.com blogs are already being protected by Bad Behavior so you shall see a lot less referer spam.

The Categories section uses Ajax to help you select a category based on those created by users across WordPress.com
Noticed one bug and that is the Parent Category you selected is not assigned to the category when creating a new one. You need to edit the category to assign the Parent Category.

There is also the Invites tab where you can invite someone to WordPress.com, which currently is the only way a person can get a WordPress blog (other than the golden ticket which I received). You start with one, which means I got one invite to give away. I’m not giving it away to anyone unless I am sure they will make good use of it.

Links

The links page sections has remained the same as before so if you have already used 1.5, this won’t excite you much.
A bug I noticed here that selecting me under rel is not retained when you edit. You need to reselect it everytime.

Few other things

You will find a Feedback button on every page in the admin area. I’ve sent some feedback, but I don’t know where it goes, if anyone reads it or if they plan on implementing any of the feedback I suggest. However, I did my part and reported a few bugs I found.

You also have a dashbar appear at the top of every blog in WordPress.com when you are logged in, thus giving you direct access to your admin area. A useful addition.

The support for WordPress.com is limited. They do have a FAQ Blog but this is still a work in progress.
There is also a small page on the Codex.

WordPress.com is free and is very much aimed for the beginner. For an advanced user and if you demand more you are much better off downloading WordPress and hosting it on your own.

Until then, it is wait and watch 🙂

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5 Comments

  1. When you say that we only get 26MB, you mean for file uploads only right? Not for the entire site.

  2. That is what it shows in the image upload area, so I assume it is for uploads.

  3. Thanks for sharing your impressions. I’ve put in for an invite and hope to receive it soon but today I’ve been doing a search of existing wordpress.com blogs and discovered that a lot of them were not accessible due to \”redirection for this url has reached its limit\”.

    Do you know what this is about? Is there a limit on bandwidth or something?

  4. I’m not aware of a bandwidth restriction and thiis is the first time I heard of an error like this.

    About a day or two ago though the sites were down due to an upgrade, probably in the core. Was up quite soon afte rhtat though.

  5. It must have been the computer I was using because it’s not doing it on my home computer. My apologies.

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