At last week's Web 2.0 Expo, one of the companies showing its wares was Profy, a blogging service I covered back in January. Back then, I was impressed with its vision, although not with its customization options, which fell short of what was offered on hosted blogging tools such as MovableType and WordPress. However, after meeting with Profy co-founder Svetlana Gladkova this morning, I'm beginning to see the bigger picture: an ambitious plan to serve as a huge platform for other popular blogging services and make them better with tools that have designed with the novice to intermediate blogger in mind.
Last week's news was the opening of the platform away from a private alpha and into an open beta. While you still need to sign up for an invite to get access, Gladkova says this is just a small barrier in case they can't keep up with scaling, and that people who sign up will get access right away.
With the move to beta the service has also integrated a small handful of smart and innovative features that aren't offered elsewhere. The first is the capability to tag other Profy users as you would bookmarks. So say you've got a few people you're following who read good tech stories. You could tag them all under "tech" and then sort through them and the blog posts they've been reading with the same tagging system.
Also introduced, and more publishing-centric was cross-posting; an incredibly useful feature for people who have multiple blogs and want to update them with the same content with the least amount of effort necessary. Currently users can cross post to Blogger and Livejournal blogs, although next on the list are MovableType and Wordpress.com. Gladkova says that the tool has been developed from the very beginning as a platform for multiple editing applications, and that it will continue to expand to meet the demands of whatever service its users are taking part in.
To address what would happen with community and user interaction when you post out to all these blogs at the same time Gladkova says the company will be partnering with a comment tracking service. That way you'll be able to monitor the activity everywhere the post went in one place. Gladkova also addressed one of my other concerns, which dealt with power users who want to host blogs on their own servers. She says there are no plans to offer a hosted service at the moment, but that there will be a pro level of service coming later this year that will allow custom domain use and give users extra storage for hosted media for a small fee.
If you haven't checked out Profy already, it really is worth a look if only for the alternate interface to post a blog entry to your Blogger.com page. I find Profy's editor to be a little easier to use, as it scales to the size of your monitor and offers a slightly snappier experience.