Rough comparison of some hosted blogging-plus platforms

blog-platformsI surveyed several hosted platforms that offer blogging plus other features, on criteria that are priorities to me.  The comparison is somewhat rough-and-ready, but allowed me to settle on wordpress.com for currrent initiatives.

Summary

Among hosted options from the better-known outfits, wordpress.com won because on the broad array of features it’s “good enough” for my immediate purposes, while possessing a couple of relatively crucial features missing from the rivals:  Public comments, and hierarchical organization of pages.

Comparison table

Color code:
Yellow: particularly advantageous feature for me, and differentiator vs other platforms.
Pink: Especially disadvantageous feature for me, and probable disqualification.

Area Feature WordPress.com Google sites TypePad Blogger
Content types Blog posts This is the main content type. Called “announcements”. This is the main content type This is the main content type
  Blog post change alert Appear in reverse chronological order (optionally excerpted) on front page. Also in sidebar widgets for recent posts Can appear on front page.
Appears in sidebar recent edits (but this list is easily swamped with many small edits.)
d/k d/k
  Blog nav Widget for archives, categories, tagcloud. ??? d/k d/k
  Pages Somewhat afterthought page type. This is the most prominent type of content on a “google site”. Has pages. d/k
  Page organization and navigation Each page has optional parent, so supports hiearchical organization. However, Pages widget in sidebar may get unwieldy with lots of pages. (Would be nice if this had expand/collapse). Each page has a page parent, and hence can be organized in a hierarchy of pages.  This supports a site-wide hierarchical treeview of the sitemap (useful), and also list-of-child pages at the bottom of each page (useful for reference but hard to read). Flat organization d/k
  Page change alert None so far as I can see Recent edits list in sidebar    
  List n/a (does have list-of-links) Virtually unusable due to poor formatting of cells, and inability for cols to resize. Sorting on one col at a time only. TypeLists d/k
  File cabinet Can attach files to page Specific page type, with file attributes etc
Can also attach to individual pages or announcements
   
  Calendar n/a      
           
Login Logins for special users Can set up accounts, and give users special roles: Admin, Editor, Contributor, Author Admin simply lists users’ gmail accounts under appropriate role for site    
Comments Comments Allowed Comments are allowed for registered users only. No public comments facility.    
  Comment spam Akismet, with some manual filters and manual approval options n/a    
           
In-browser editor Overall opinion Editor is reasonably productive, except in the area of tables, where another editor is essential. Best editor of the group. Lots of work can be accomplished without resorting to other editors or blog API. This is primarily due to good features in an area crucial to me, tables, which is chronically weak or non-existent in other in-browser editors. Incomplete opinion Not usable
  Invocation From link on page/post itself From link on page itself From list of pages d/k
  Editor area size Manually resizable to as large as can fit on screen (a setting which sticks), plus scrolling of edit area Resizes to size of content (and thus uses window scrolling) Has a full-screen mode Small
  Optional full-screen editor Yes. However, missing some features: No html edit. No save/publish capability. Not needed yes no
  Toolbar/menu Conventional toolbar above edit area Floating toolbar (complementary to text area sizing to content) Conventional Conventional
  Multi version Last five versions Many versions    
  Raw html edit Yes (but not in full-screen mode) Yes, but separate html window is modal and lacks features (eg: no search-replace)    
  Auto-save drafts Apparently so, but not sure how to tell. Yes, frequent and clear    
           
  Styles Yes. (But can’t select alternative fonts) Selector for styles, and separate selector for fonts/ Yes No
  Insert picture Easy Easy    
  Adjust pic params Yes — good. Limited but can use html mode Use html mode  
  Tables editing Can’t create tables or manipulate table structure. Can be inserted from other editor, and will be preserved, and the text is editable. Of all in-browser editors, this is one of the best regarding tables. That said: No col or row move or copy/paste. Multi-cell selections are possible, but buggy.  Limited control of table styles. Can’t reliably set fluid col width. Can’t create tables or manipulate their structure. However, has smart paste-from-Word with cleanup.  
Desktop editor Blog API Yes Don’t know Yes Presumably
           
Page structure and appearance Variety of page structure Themes are from individual authors, and  implement a variety of page layouts. However,  variations in completeness and consistency of supplied CSS. Variety of page structures, and individual features that can be enabled selectively d/k d/k
  Sidebar features “Widgets”.  Limited but useful selection of widgets from regular wordpress Limited optional set d/k d/k
  Access to CSS Optional paid upgrade. (I concluded this is essential, if only to fix problems in supplied CSS) No Yes at plus level d/k
  Customization of functionality None. (However, Text widget allows injection of html into sidebar.) No d/k No
  Fixed or flex width Mostly fixed-width themes, but some flexible. ( Flexible Flex possible at paid “plus” level d/k
           
Hosting Fee None for base account. CSS upgrade $15/yr “google sites” is free, but limited space (100M or so). Larger space available by getting single-user Google Apps (still free?), and just use the sites feature. (But this is slightly convoluted to set up, and then for users to log in to.) Plus: $8.95/mo Base level free
  Space 3 G (pay for more) google sites: 100M or so. Google Apps, some number of Gs d/k d/k
  Hosts ads Occasionally. (Or $30/yr to avoid.) No No d/k
  Ads allowed? Not currently, maybe future No Yes d/k
           
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