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Google releases string of beta Blogger updates

Five-star post ratings and import-export capabilities are among the fixes and tweaks, which are available in the company's "Blogger in Draft" beta test.

Google announced on Friday the release of a number of updates to its Blogger publishing platform--well, sort of. The updates have gone into Blogger in Draft, the service's beta platform, with the expectation that they'll eventually become full features.

The updates will seem a bit humdrum for people who don't use Blogger, but for those who do, it's a set of important baby steps toward shaping the service to fit customer feedback. That's especially important for Google, as this is one niche of the Web where Mountain View doesn't have a huge lead: there is tough competition in the blog-publishing market, especially from the likes of WordPress and Six Apart.

Blogger users who want to be on the cutting edge will now be able to set their default "dashboard" to Blogger in Draft, and have the Blogger in Draft blog bookmarked as an easy reference. There's tighter integration of Google Gadgets, as well as a number of minor fixes to a recently redesigned dashboard.

But the "by popular demand" features are likely to gather more interest: five-star rating options on posts, much like those of Pownce; a revised post editor interface; support for Google Account logins and OpenID in comments; and perhaps most importantly, the ability to back up blog posts on a computer or export them to another blog.