Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Blogger: new Post Editor - issues

It's great that Team Blogger are continuing to work on improving and upgrading the Blogger Post Editor, in Blogger in Draft - and they've done an excellent job, with loads of new features like improved image handling.

There are just a few issues I've noticed which I hope they'll fix or address before they roll it out for all Blogger blogs.

A. Major post editor issues (Firefox 3.0.1)

  1. Greasemonkey is broken. Wail. (Any chance of a Blogger Greasemonkey API like the Gmail Greasemonkey API, pretty please?) This is a real biggie as far as I'm concerned. I've been loyal to Blogger since day 1, I like its ease of use combined with control and flexibility behind the scenes for power users, but I can't do without my Greasemonkey scripts for:
    1. making the display font more readable in the Blogger Edit HTML editor (my eyesight's not brilliant, every little thing like a better font really helps - I'm not talking about the font shown in the final published post, but the font used when I'm creating or editing a post)
    2. enlarging the Blogger post editor (ditto, plus saves scrolling, plus not having the post editor box fill the whole screen makes me feel very lopsided!) - I know you can set the size vertically and it'll save it per blog, but I really want it to expand to max out horizontally, and I'm not the only person wanting a bigger editing box!
    3. ensuring draft posts are published with the date/time of publishing, not when the draft was first created (keep current time script)
    4. creating tags, and
    5. enlarging the Blogger template editor.

  2. Ctrl-shift-a to add a link has stopped working, oh woe is me!

  3. Ctrl-shift-p needs fixing - currently, it publishes rather than previews a post, at least on my system (Firefox 3.0.1).

  4. Images - you have to upload multiple JPGs, GIFs etc one by one in sequence now if you have several picture or photo files; to me this is a very retrograde step:

    I much prefer the existing system where you can click to have up to 5 files to upload in one go; in fact personally I'd like the 5 boxes to "Add another image" always be there, open (or allow users to save their preference as to how many boxes be available). Not being able to upload multiple image files in one go is actually one of the few things that would push me to switch to WordPress.

    I do like the fact that you can more easily change the size of an uploaded image by clicking it to get a choice:

    - and it's excellent that you can position it right, left or center just by dragging it (I used to do it by editing the code). But I'd like to know if choosing "Remove" not only removes it from the post, but also from PicasaWeb behind the scenes (thus not unnecessarily using up your image storage space quota).

    Also while it's good that you can add a pic at the cursor position by clicking the pic and then Add Image, if you forget to add an image which is still in that window, and you save the post to go back to editing it later, you'll have to upload the pic all over again - the "floating window" with the pics in it just doesn't get saved. The good thing about the old system was that your pics were always there in the post, you couldn't fail to add or save them. Finally, of course, I'd like keyboard shortcuts for adding pics.

    Finally, to move an image I used to copy it (click on it and ctrl-c), place the cursor in the new position and then paste the image (ctrl-v) exactly where I wanted it, at the cursor. You now have to drag it, which is less accessible for keyboard users who have difficulty with the mouse - it really isn't that easy positioning it exactly with the mouse if you have trouble with fine muscle control, or even if you don't - I managed to position 2 pics 1 on the left one on the right on the same line, then dragged one away, but then couldn't get them back to one on the left one on the right again! (yes you could copy and paste the code in HTML view, but that's less user friendly). Yes, you can position the cursor then click Add Image to add an image from the floating window - I'm talking about re-positioning an image after it's been added to a post.

    I do hope Blogger will let users save as a preference the old system for image handling if they prefer, but I suspect not. (I'd like Autosave back too, but I know they're working on that.)

    Another suggestion again for better accessibility: when you upload an image, it would be fab if there was a box against each pic where you could enter the ALT text description for that pic. Yes, you can do it by editing the HTML after you upload it, but that extra hassle puts most people off, whereas if you can do it as you upload it, they'd be much more likely to do it.

  5. Confirmation of saving - I make a habit of regularly going ctrl-s to save a draft post to Blogspot when pausing for thought, as I often draft posts in stages, sometimes over months, before I finally publish the post, and I've nearly cried from losing updates to my draft through Firefox crashing. Unfortunately sometimes it's too busy or having a blip, and the attempted save doesn't work.

    Now it says so at the very end of the window, but if I'm in the middle of a post I don't always think to scroll down to check. Sometimes the message is at the top and bottom both:

    - but sometimes it isn't at the top at all, just the bottom, and I wish that the "Draft saved at.." or, more to the point "Saving and publishing may fail!" message would appear above the post editor too (e.g. above the Title box), or instead of at the bottom, so that you can't possibly miss the fact that it's not saved at the Blogger end and you ought to copy and paste the HTML locally to make sure you don't lose your hard work:

    I've even had instances where I got a "Draft saved at.." confirmation, then when I went back in to Blogger the next day to continue working on the post, it had not saved the latest version, but a previous one. Go figure...

  6. Draft posts should bear the date of publication, not the date the draft was created - this is the issue I've fixed with A.1.3 above, but I think it's a major issue for the many people who write draft posts without immediately publishing them, and I wish Blogger would build it in natively - especially if they're going to stop existing Greasemonkey scripts from working!

  7. Strange bug which wipes out saved content - this has only happened to me a few times, but enough to make me scream. I go to edit a previously saved draft post, the content displays for half a second, then the post editor window (though not the title) totally blanks out in both Edit Html and Compose view. The only solution is to quickly leave that screen fast, WITHOUT saving, before it auto-saves a blank that overwrites my previous text, and then I have to finish my post in Internet Explorer. Otherwise, a blank wipes out all my carefully-drafted previous text. I've also had this happen spontaneously while I was in the middle of drafting something and went back to the post editor tab, not just when trying to go back into a previously saved draft. It's only in Firefox. Is it just me, has anyone else experienced this?

  8. (Incidentally, about the same time as they rolled out the experimental post editor, the "live" post editor must have been updated too, a bit - the Blogger keyboard shortcuts for nested lists have stopped working! Though they work in the Draft post editor. Plus, ctrl i and ctrl b sometimes don't work, and sometimes they do - especially if I combine the two i.e. adding bold to italicised text. And the Save Now button sometimes works like ctrl-d, save & exit, rather than ctrl-s, save but leave the editing box open.)

B. Other post editor issues - wishlist

  1. Keyboard shortcuts - as I've previously blogged, being a keyboard shortcut fan (and I'm not the only one!) I'd love to have more hotkeys, especially:
    1. hotkey for toggling between Edit Html and Compose view (and for immediately interpreting any raw HTML you type or paste in Compose view without having to switch to Edit Html and back)
    2. ctrl-shift-l for a bulleted list (unordered list), and something else for numbered lists.

  2. The Post Editor's Post Options settings are useful and take up little space, I personally feel they should be shown by default, not hidden. Greasemonkey lets me keep that bit permanently open, but again I don't know if that'll last...

  3. HTML anchors - I'd like to be able to add "a name" anchors like <a name="1"&glt; in the body of my posts for reference/linking within the post, while I'm composing a post, as many of my posts are long. At the moment, if I try doing that, it doesn't work on publishing: a link to #anchorname doesn't automatically get converted to insert the post page's permalink but to "http:///#anchorname" or to the editing page. I have to edit the post after it's published in order to get that to work. Maybe there's another way I don't know...
I've other wishlist items for Blogger too, unrelated to the post editor, which I'll write about separately.

No comments: