Google seeking solution to Blogger FTP woes

The FTP publishing functionality has been erratic in recent months

People and organizations who host their Blogger blogs outside of Google have experienced technical problems with the service's FTP publishing functionality, prompting Google to apologize.

"Bloggers who rely on our FTP service to publish their blog to their own domain had a rough week last week. In fact, it's been a bumpy month or two. Let's start with the most important comment on this state of affairs: this sucks, and we're sorry," wrote Rick Klau, a Blogger product manager, in the official Blogger Buzz blog on Tuesday.

The upfront apology was followed by the acknowledgement that Google hasn't found a solid solution to the FTP (file transfer protocol) woes.

The reason: the problems often happen when incompatibilities arise between Blogger and individual blog hosting companies, particularly when the latter get stricter about FTP logins.

"These [problems] are notoriously hard to isolate, particularly when they involve coordinating support with a third party," Klau said.

There is growing concern about incompatibilities among providers of online services, as cloud computing's popularity grows.

For users to fully enjoy the advantages of hosted IT services and SaaS (software as a service), cloud computing vendors must play nice with each other.

For individuals, organizations, developers and publishers, cloud computing's benefits diminish if vendors limit interoperability among their platforms, leading to fewer choices and less flexibility.

At Blogger, the advice for publishers who own their own domain and use FTP is to instead seriously consider hosting their blog with Google using Blogger's free Custom Domain option.

With Custom Domain, these publishers can continue to publish their blog using their own domain while bypassing the need to transfer it via FTP to an external hosting company's Web servers.

The benefits of Custom Domain over FTP include a faster and smoother publishing process, according to Klau.

However, he also acknowledged that FTP remains a better choice under certain circumstances, such as in countries which block access to Google domains and for blogs that need to execute PHP scripting language code in their template pages.

Although he stopped short of saying Google plans to turn off FTP publishing in Blogger, Klau made it clear that Google considers this feature a drag on its resources.

"I will freely admit I have an agenda with this post: the less time Blogger engineers spend supporting a brittle feature - FTP - the more time we can spend building out new features," he wrote.

Google has set up a special discussion forum for Blogger publishers who use the FTP function, so that they and Blogger officials can continue to troubleshoot the issue and share information.

Google didn't immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

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