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Building A Bright New TypePad

Ben Hi everyone, I’m Ben Trott, the co-founder and Chief Technical Officer here at Six Apart. It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me because my focus is on leading our team of engineers, and I spend most of my hours (ok, mainly the waking ones) writing code, brainstorming and building the infrastructure that powers TypePad.

You’ve heard from our CEO Chris Alden a few times this year about our plans for TypePad, and a big part of my job is the process of moving all TypePad blogs to a next generation platform. I’d like to give you some more details about our progress behind the scenes and also let you know what to expect in the coming months.

In short:

  • We’re migrating TypePad to a next-generation platform, essentially a new infrastructure based on the best of what we’ve learned from Vox, Movable Type and over five years of development on TypePad
  • After the switch, we’ll be able to release innovative features at a faster pace
  • Your blog is very important! (We know this – we’re bloggers too1.) We’re moving your blogs carefully in small batches so that the transition will be pretty much invisible to you
  • We’ve already moved a ton of blogs to the new infrastructure and we’re in the home stretch, but we expect the full process to last for most of this year

A peek behind the scenes
A lot has changed since we launched TypePad back in 2003, essentially as a hosted version of Movable Type. In 2006 we launched Vox, a social blogging service that brought innovative new features to blogging, such as powerful privacy, a much better way of handling photos and videos, and new ways to connect with readers, blogs and bloggers who share your interests. When we built Vox, we also created a groundbreaking underlying framework for building blogging applications, including a new architecture, a new codebase, and a new data model.

TypePad powers some of the best blogs in the world, so in order to keep innovative features coming we made the decision to migrate the entire service to this new platform. While we will keep Vox and TypePad as separate services, we see tremendous advantages to having them share the same infrastructure, and later this year you’ll see the benefits too.

A complex task
In simple terms, our migration process involves copying data into the new data model, then slowly moving your blogs over to be served by the new architecture and the new codebase. Because of the powerful customization options and flexibility we offer in TypePad, there is no “one-size-fits-all” process for migrating every blog. So, we’re batching blogs in ways that map well with the new architecture – the order in which we’re migrating blogs doesn’t correspond to any recognizable information to you, such as your account level or anything like that. Our process may seem random from the outside, but I assure you we’re not playing favorites!

A tremendous amount of focus and effort from the entire TypePad team2 and Six Apart staff has been put in to making this a smooth transition. We are going to err on the side of caution and take the time necessary to move every blog successfully, with as little disruption as possible to you. As always, our Support team is standing by and has recently redoubled their efforts to reduce wait times for open tickets.

Typepadteam

What the new TypePad looks like
While the new TypePad looks significantly different to the engineering team working on it, it looks pretty much the same to those of you who can see it right now. There are some areas, such as the Compose screen3, where we have made changes you can see (so if you have a new Compose screen you have already been migrated!), but by and large the application will look and feel the same. Once the move to the new platform is completed, you will start to see new features and we’ll deliver improvements based on your feedback, building and refining them much more quickly with this new flexible system.

Shortly we’ll announce how you can be part of our expanded beta community, and help us test new features if you are interested. For those of you who don’t have the time or interest in being on the frontline for the new features, you’ll be able to hang back and get the new functionality after it’s been worked on by our community of beta testers. We’ll tell you more about all of this soon.

What to do in the meantime
Keep blogging! The whole team has been working on this for over a year, and we’re excited to start sharing the new TypePad with you (and frankly all the engineers here can’t wait to hack on the new platform) but please bear with us as we go through the home stretch.

Important things to remember:

  • This is a free upgrade to your TypePad service
  • You do not have to do anything – we will move your blogs carefully in batches
  • There may be some glitches along the way, but we are doing all we can to avoid that and have increased our Support capabilities to help address any problems we encounter
  • This transition continues from now until the end of this year, with our target goal to have all blogs on the new codebase in late November 2008

More to come
I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, and even more excited to bring TypePad into a whole new era. We’ll keep updating you with more information along the way. Thanks for the amazing blogging you do with TypePad, and thanks for letting me step out from behind the scenes to give you this update. 

1Even though blogging is my business, I keep a personal blog at Stupidfool.org about all my obsessions, from pork to Project Runway.
2We've included a photo of most of the TypePad team, except for the team members who work remotely or were out of the office today.
3 The new Compose screen has a footnote feature, which makes me very happy.

Comments

Rich Owings

Thanks for the update. I hope some of the new capabilities will include custom header design that allows for navigation menus, RSS buttons, site search boxes, etc. -- without using advanced templates. Oh, and while I'm in wish list mode, custom footers and being able to drag and drop to rearrange items within TypeLists too.

JimF

I'm confused. Some time ago your CEO announced the new "composer". Then its roll out seemed to stop.

Now your CTO is announced moving the entire infrastructure to a new architecture. Fine. But the two originally seemed like two, separate items, now they seem to be conflated.

So, is the "composer' reliant on the new architecture and thus its roll out has to wait for migration to the new platform, or is it being implemented separately?

Sheryl R

I appreciate the update. I'm wondering if this blog transfer is why I'm missing most of this past week's posts? (They show up under "recent posts" in my sidebar, but are missing from the main blog body line-up).
Thanks in advance for clarification on this.
Sherylr

Amy Stewart

Sounds great. Hope the new Typepad includes category feeds, even for those of us who don't use the advanced templates.

Barbara

I was just gonna thank you, Ben. Please extend my thanks to all of Six Apart. And, I agree with everything Rich said in the previous comment.

T C

The new compose screen is great. Thanks for everything your doing to make TypePad even better than it already is. If I had one wish it would be that there were a photo album template that allowed for comments from our readers. I have had people mention to me they wish they could leave a comment on my pictures. Is this in the works anywhere down the road?

Ole Eichhorn

I hope you will use Typepad yourself; nothing like eating your own dogfood. I've had two blogs migrated to the new system and found the new composer to be slow and buggy, and I can't imagine anyone who was really trying to use it for blogging wouldn't notice these problems. Nothing like having the CTO use the product to cause fast turnaround on bug fixes!

Fox Tucker

Thanks for the update Ben. Is now a good time to tell you guys 'n' girls at TypePad how much of a pleasure it is to use you for my blogging activities?

I have just opened my 7th pro account for a new blog/project I'm working on.

Of all the pro features you offer, my favorite/most essential is being able to use my own domain name. It's dead easy with TypePad.

A shameless plug for a couple of my blogs (all on TypePad Pro Accounts). http://www.doipod.com, http://www.thumblounge.com and http://www.smstoday.co.uk

You keep up the good work, and I'll keep using you.

Brilliant!

PS. Loving your TypePad Phone App, very nearly perfect :) A couple more tweaks and it'll be there.

Ray Lopez

Thanks for the update. But what I have been impressed with is the tech service. A couple of weeks ago my site just went crazy and I couldn't post because the entry was askew and jumbled. I filled out a Help Ticket and was ready to switch to another service because I was so frustrated. Within 15 minutes I got not one but two responses from Customer Support. They both went into my code and of course it was my fault. It was a simple fix and the response was quick and efficient. I was rude and crazy but I really appreciate Brianna and Melanie's help.

Account Deleted

Am I a correct in assuming anyone can partake in this beta, as long as they are a Typepad user? So I could just wait for the announcement, get a TypePad account, and then sign up to be a part of it?

I myself like the core features of Movable Type, TypePad, and Vox but want something that integrates them all in a hosted platform geared for professional development of full websites (not just blogs). For example, I've been using Squarespace for a long time (even worked for the company a bit) and I enjoy the Architecture and Module approach it uses for site development. However, I'm finding its evolution (i.e. the new Version 5) is losing a lot of core simplicity it once had and thus I'm seriously looking for an alternative platform.

If your new platform can provide this simplicity and ease of use, yet at the same time provide added functionality for full site development, then I'd be all over it in a second.

Krissy from the TypePad team

Rich & Barbara - thanks for stopping in and sharing your requests! Most of what you mentioned is in the plans and will roll out after the migration is complete.

Krissy from the TypePad team

JimF - the new compose screen is being served from the new architecture, and that's why when you see the new compose, that's how you know you're on the new architecture.

Krissy from the TypePad team

Ole - as much as that phrase makes me a little queasy, we do eat our own dogfood! Ben's blog StupidFool.org is powered by TypePad, and he's constantly fixing and writing code. I'm working on getting an updated listing on the TypePad website of all the team members' blogs.

Krissy from the TypePad team

Fox - thanks for your kind words, and congratulations on your 7th blog! You've done some really cool customizations with the blogs you listed.

Krissy from the TypePad team

Tracy - thanks for your nice words. The product team is considering building this, but it wouldn't roll out until perhaps early next year. It's great to know what features you're looking for so thank you for the suggestion!

Krissy from the TypePad team

Nollind - you are correct; once the migration is complete, we'll be opening up a bigger beta program where anyone can join to use the newest features first. I'm confident TypePad can fit your needs for simplicity, control and versatility. Ginevra from the TypePad team will email you to talk more in detail about the functionality you're looking for.

Thanks for stopping by!

Krissy from the TypePad team

SherylR - One of our team members looked into this and it should be fixed now. In the future, if you ever do see something not working quite right, please reach out to our Support team (http://support.typepad.com/) by opening a Help ticket. They're there to help!

Elaine

I am pretty happy with typepad, any issues I have had, have opened a ticket and they are sorted.

I would like a tad more flexibility with the design structure, line spacing, fonts etc etc and I also would like some designs with interchangeable banners which can be incorporated using my own photos etc etc without it being as horrendously complicated as it is at the moment.
Other than that I am a happy customer and you can feature my blog again any time you like....:)

Account Deleted

Is there REALLY someone there named Zalary?

Zalary

Yep, there really is! :)
If you're bored and interested, feel free to check out my TypeKey profile for more stuff.

liza cowan

So far so good with me and Typepad. Seven months without any huge problems, and the support staff has been patient with me.

I'm begging you to include Powells Books as an alternate option to Amazon. I have an associate account at Powells, but have to do complicated maneuvers to get my readers over there.

Thanks. Liza
www.seesaw.typepad.com

Kimberly

I'm sorry to say it, but I have to agree with Ole. I just got migrated a couple of days ago, and since then, the Composer is s - l - o - o - o - w. It's driving me crazy! And has sent me away from the computer, deleting my started post, more than once. : (

Please make it work more smoothly!

Thanks (and sorry to complain).

TPvsWP

I'm looking forward to the upgrade, but there are other features I'd love to see on TypePad, among which:
- Category hierarchy
- Pages hierarchy
- Default Error 404 page
- Integrated contact form
- Integrated search form
- Custom URLs for posts, not just pages
- Tags
- Better stats
Hope to see those soon :-)

Teresa Boardman

It is October and I have not seen any of these changes. When will the blogs be upgraded?

Kevin Horne

Whoa! Was just changed over to the new platform and "Compose" screen. Maybe it's me, but the new "HTML" tab shows code that is at the level of a 7-year+ Java developer. The average user like me can't deal with "span" tags and the like.

Is there a "dumbed down" for the HTML tab (versus the Rich Text tab)? Having trouble with line spacing.

thanks!

Krissy from the TypePad team

Hi Teresa - We're still aiming to have all blogs on the new codebase in late November 2008.

Lorilee Kopp

Hey I have that Threadless shirt! :)

Yann

He! I missed that post and I missed the shoot session too. Probably because I had more interesting to do this day, like, having a daughter.

:-)

The Typepad Team

there is, and she's great!

Ruth Gledhill

Well done. Overnight, you have destroyed my blog. Comments are no longer appearing on my blog or other blogs at The Times. I didn't ask for this new 'functionality' and don't want it if it prevents people commenting.

Dave Mosher

Your switching between the new interface and the old interface is deleting some of my posts.

We've contacted you about this issue before, and it still hasn't been fixed.

Ginevra

Hi Dave - can you contact me via email? I think this is fixed in your trouble tickets, but let me know if it's still occurring...

Jon Cobler

Thanks Ben. One piece of feedback about the new Post Edit page. When I'm editing a post there are three buttons available to me at the bottom of the post, Preview--Save--Delete Post. Every 30 seconds or so the "Last Saved ***" info pops in to the right. When the LS info shows up, it shifts all the buttons to the left. If you time it right, you can accidentally hit delete post, when you meant to Save or Preview. Thankfully you have to click again to really delete the post, but moving the "Last Saved" info bellow or elsewhere would be great. That's my 2 Cents. Thanks for everything.

Walter Adamson

My browsers been locking up for months with this "new" composer and no joy at all from any support - why do I have to use something that locks up IE7 99% CPU every time I am composing and usually means two terminations and restarts of IE per post??? I tried to swap to Chrome but of course its even worse there with the things that don't work. I used to be a content customer ....

Charles Holbrook

I have just tried TypePad once and never realy gave it a chance I will try again soon. I have been busy trying to get my web store www.blugrassemporium.com up and running I have it loaded now with over 2500 items, now all I need is customers. Charles
ra15273@windstream.net

o

Today is January 07 2009 and as I checked to create a post I noticed the new compose editor and another change. It's all good but it's too late for me.

I'm sorry to tell you this but having been a customer since 2003 being away briefing then returning from 2005 to the present, I am moving all my blogs to Wordpress.com

It's been a good ride. It has. I want to COMPLIMENT THE TP SUPPORT TEAM. They are without question the best thing about TP. The second best aspect of TP at the Pro level is the Advanced Templates. More on that below.

So, why leave?

I often found services made available on free platforms where not offered on my paid account here. Eventually a number of those changes came through but TP is still slow to catch up and sometimes completely behind. With a for fee service you guys should be way ahead of the curve. And, I can get more storage space for free for the same as it would cost me to get the same by upgrading one level from "Pro" to the top paid-for account here. That's not making sense to me.

While I won't have the wild and widely free ranging design customization liberty that I have had here using Advanced Templates I will have some CSS and HTML editing ability for a much smaller fee than my annual costs here. Whatever I loose in that is more than made up for in other features still unavailable on TP. Sorry but that's the gosh darn truth.

Before I leave the Advanced Template topic let me commend TP, in this most recent change, for finally catching up with with Wordpress in terms of template changes being made instantly instead of that bothersome Save the changes and then Publish the template or in some cases the entire blog. For someone who made a lot of changes that was just the worst. People coming in now will love you for this important update.

So, I mean this with all sincerity, it has been a good run and I am sorry to leave TP but there's a bottom line reality and this past year I hit it.

Account Deleted

Hello - I appreciate the updates, but do not appreciate the fact that my sidebar (in my 2 column right layout that I've been using for years now) is now displaying underneath all of my posts. This includes the link to my shop which I am not happy about. Can someone please fix this...please?

Nathan

I got a reply. It seems that there was an assumption that I had a free zcount. Nope.

A Twitter User

Thank You so much for all the work you and everyone in Typepad has been doing. I am so impressed with the advancements and changes that have been made since I joined up with Typepad. It IS definitely so much easier. I have learned so much about blogging that I am setting up another blog site with Typepad!!! Now if you can solve this time issue.... LOL!
Thanks again.

Account Deleted

I'm appalled by the lack of prompt response to technical support ticket I opened today. I'm a very dissatisfied paying Pro Subscriber.

Richard Jang

I have been supporting TypePad but sometimes the features still lose out to Word Press.
We should have the ability to place ads just below the banner which most advertisers wanted us to do. The current system only allow us to place at the sidebar with the ability to move it around.

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