Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Five Things I Pray the New Blogger Upgrade Will Fix

The recent news that Blogger is launching a major upgrade has me crossing my fingers hoping that they will resolve some of the biggest issues I see with the service. I have been preparing to start up a new kids' products blog, and was dead set on hosting it elsewhere based on the issue of Blogger's lack of tagging alone. But I've been reluctant to switch to a competitor because I love what Google has been doing the last few years, and the anticipated integration of more of their services will make Blogger a great place to be. Now I'll wait and see what the upgrade looks like; I'd love to stay with Blogger, which in many ways is very easy to use, and as a part of the Googleplex has so much potential.

Here are some issues I hope and pray will be resolved with the release:

1. Buggy HTML. The HTML builder behind the WYSIWYG editor in Blogger routinely screws up your post HTML when you do anything beyond typing in a text block. For example, Blogger routinely strips the closing < / embed > tags off of video content embed code (including code copy-pasted from Google Video!) and then refusing to upload because the tag is not closed. Adding the tag back in works if you are going to post that second, but go back to Compose mode, or post and then return to edit your post, and it strips it out again. It also has a problem handling multiple font calls, and will strip out a closing font tag and then force you to hunt through dozens of font tags in your post to locate the problem and add the tag back. On more than one occasion I've had to copy long posts into a text editor and strip out all of the font tags before pasting it back into Blogger and carefully reapplying font labels.

2. A "smart" HTML editor. None of these things would be awful if the HTML editor could tell you where it saw a problem, or even just allow you to search through the content in the text box. If a service is going to write buggy code and expect you to fix it by hand, the least it can do is help a user identify the problem area so they can fix it quickly.

3. Blog organization. We need tags. Looks like we're getting them!

4. Layout tools. Ditto, and ditto! I want to be able to edit my blog aesthetics in simple ways without hand-coding. A service that is the easiest and most intuitive to use in other ways should have this to brag about, too.

5. Expiration dates. I'm tired of seeing dead blogs everywhere. If someone doesn't post in a year, cancel their blog. This is a problem not only for random blog browsing (a great feature of Blogger) but also is becoming a haven for squatters - I have found several blog names I wanted that were attached to blogs that had not been posted to in three years.

I will follow up on this when I've been invited to upgrade my blogs.

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