Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Google, nobody asked for a new Blogger interface

Even New Coke is better than New Blogger!

I'm writing this post in what Google is euphemistically referring to as an improvement. I don't understand this. I managed to ignore New Blogger for a few weeks but Google's ability to fark stuff up has the same air of inevitability as rotting corpses. Perhaps on mobile devices it's better, and even that is a matter of preference, but it's space-inefficient on desktop due to larger buttons and fonts, it's noticeably slower, it's buggy, and very soon it's going to be your only choice.

My biggest objection, however, is what they've done to the HTML editor. I'm probably the last person on earth to do so, but I write my posts in raw HTML. This was fine in the old Blogger interface which was basically a big freeform textbox you typed tags into manually. There was some means to intercept tags you didn't close, which was handy, and when you added elements from the toolbar you saw the HTML as it went in. Otherwise, WYTIWYG (what you typed is what you got). Since I personally use fairly limited markup and rely on the stylesheet for most everything, this worked well.

The new one is a line editor ... with indenting. Blogger has always really, really wanted you to use <p> as a container, even though a closing tag has never been required. But now, thanks to the indenter, if you insert a new paragraph then it starts indenting everything, including lines you've already typed, and there's no way to turn this off! Either you close every <p> tag immediately to defeat this behaviour, or you start using a lot of <br>s, which specifically defeats any means of semantic markup. (More about this in a moment.) First world problem? Absolutely. But I didn't ask for this "assistance" either, nor to require me to type additional unnecessary content to get around a dubious feature.

But wait, there's less! By switching into HTML view, you lose ($#@%!, stop indenting that line when I type emphasis tags!) the ability to insert hyperlinks, images or other media by any other means other than manually typing them out. You can't even upload an image, let alone automatically insert the HTML boilerplate and edit it.

So switch into Compose view to actually do any of those things, and what happens? Like before, Blogger rewrites your document, but now this happens all the time because of what you can't do in HTML view. Certain arbitrarily-determined naughtytags(tm) like <em> become <i> (my screen-reader friends will be disappointed). All those container close tags that are unnecessary bloat suddenly appear. Oh, and watch out for that dubiously-named "Format HTML" button, the only special feature to appear in the HTML view, as opposed to anything actually useful. To defeat the HTML autocorrupt while I was checking things writing this article, I actually copied and repasted my entire text multiple times so that Blogger would stop the hell messing with it. Who asked for this?? Clearly the designers of this travesty, assuming it isn't some cruel joke perpetuated by a sadistic UI anti-expert or a covert means to make people really cheesed off at Blogger so Google can claim no one uses it and shut it down, now intend HTML view to be strictly touch-up only, if that, and not a primary means of entering a post. Heaven forbid people should learn HTML anymore and try to write something efficient.

Oh, what else? It's slower, because of all the additional overhead (remember, it used to be just a big ol' box o' text that you just typed into, and a selection of mostly static elements making up the UI otherwise). Old Blogger was smart enough (or perhaps it was a happy accident) to know you already had a preview tab open and would send your preview there. New Blogger opens a new, unnecessary tab every time. The fonts and the buttons are bigger, but the icons are of similar size, defeating any reasonable argument of accessibility and just looks stupid on the G5 or the Talos II. There's lots of wasted empty space, too. This may reflect the contents of the crania of the people who worked on it, and apparently they don't care (I complained plenty of times before switching back, I expect no reply because they owe me nothing), so I feel no shame in abusing them.

Most of all, however, there is no added functionality. There is no workflow I know of that this makes better, and by removing stuff that used to work, demonstrably makes at least my own workflow worse.

So am I going to rage-quit Blogger? Well, no, at least not for the blogs I have that presently exist (feel free to visit, linked in the blogroll). I have years of documents here going back to TenFourFox's earliest inception in 2010, many of which are still very useful to vintage Power Mac users, and people know where to find them. It was the lowest effort move at the time to start a blog here and while Blogger wasn't futzing around with their own secret sauce it worked out well.

So, for future posts, my anticipated Rube Goldbergian nightmare is to use Compose view to load my images, copy the generated HTML off, type the rest of the tags manually in a text editor as God and Sir Tim intended and cut and paste it into a blank HTML view before New Blogger has a chance to mess with it. Hopefully they don't close the hole with paste not auto-indenting, for all that's holy. And if this is the future of Blogger, then if I have any future projects in mind, I think it's time for me to start self-hosting them and take a hike. Maybe this really is Google's way of getting this place to shut down.

(I actually liked New Coke, by the way.)

39 comments:

  1. Unfortunately, although this is aimed at Google (as if it was somehow alone in inflicting pain on users), the sad reality is that the big blog hosts ALL seem to think they know 'best'.

    I gave up blogging almost a year ago after a line fault took my Internet connection down for an extended period of time. It wasn't the root cause, but was the 'Last Straw' on top of the relentless pressure by Wordpress to adopt its disgusting and vile 'Block Editor', which is horrible to try to use, and for my style at least, breaks any old post (written in the old editor) I foolishly open and edit with their 'New and Improved' horror.

    While not mandatory (yet?), that doesn't stop it from being a default which one has to carefully AVOID using.

    I miss blogging now, I don't HAVE to do it, but I'd like to, but the thought of all the time I waste editing and fixing stuff now just demotivates me completely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, self-hosting is just looking more and more like the only feasible approach to avoid traumatic platform changes. Nobody can leave well enough alone anymore.

      Delete
    2. I was probably lucky as I had no issue switching to the 'Block Editor' in Wordpress — true I probably have not edited old articles...
      I'm not particularly pro or against it, though I certainly could have continued with the classic editor...
      I'm not self-hosting, just using the space given to their customers by my Internet access provider. If they stop offering this free service, I can always use my Wordpress backup and move it to a new host.

      Delete
  2. I'm starting to hate the Internet. (Yes, I still capitalize the damned thing. Get off my lawn!)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Google, nobody asked you to murder Mozilla either.

    https://www.zdnet.com/article/mozilla-lays-off-250-employees-while-it-refocuses-on-commercial-products/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cameron, I think most of us would like to know how you feel about that bad news... (I bet you're already working on a blog post about it ;-) )
      How will it affect FFx based browsers? How can they keep up with fixing security threats? etc.

      Delete
  4. I hate the new interface. It's slow and unresponsive! Also, many simple features now need extra clicks to get there (eg. changing image size, adding captions). Sometimes simple is better and one that loads much faster. Cheesus Fries, even just pasting keywords on the tag box takes a minute to appear!

    ReplyDelete
  5. The "new" blogger is a pain for me too. I have 16 years of posts, many of which I update from time to time. The old dashboard was simple- click on the approximate older post page and find the post. The new dashboard requires you to "search" for your old post but the search engine doesn’t work properly! The other alternative, scrolling through 3000+ posts is out of the question. I've always enjoyed using Blogspot, never had a major issue with it until now. I'm ready to hang it up.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't like the new interface opening page that lists your posts.

    Two problems:
    1. I don't need all the preview photos showing, they make the list shorter than I need so I have to scroll up and down it finding posts I have already drafted for publication. As I tend to work up to 6 weeks in advance with 1-2 posts a day this can be a major issue.
    2. If you set a post to Draft, the date they show is the created date not the date you have scheduled the post to appear on. So in my case where I have lots of regular weekly posts with similar subject titles. I have a lot of posts with the same date (as they are created in advance) so it becomes a nightmare to manage these posts.

    All I ask is that they give us the option to turn off the preview photos, and change it from creation date to publication date on Draft posts and I will be a relatively happy bunny

    ReplyDelete
  7. I feel okay with this new looks, i've thought that they abandoned blogger just as google plus, then i feel happy that they are actually care about Blogger. I don't want to do self-host, like maintaining the server, starting from scratch is a dumb idea. Just use Blogger, you don't need to think about anything, just write whatever you have, put ads on it, no worry about paying the server you are renting.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Off topic, but I posted my essay/overview on Google and DoubleClick on Blogspot for a reason, though I now have a Wikipedia article:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draft:Effects_of_the_2007-2008_financial_crisis_on_Google
    I just switched themes on my Blogspot blog because I posted the ConfigScript.ps1 PowerShell script that MS took down. I used it when I was doing work on CompatTelRunner and Appraiser in Windows.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I agree with your complaints, and I would add one:

    I wrote (rewrote for Web Extensions) a Firefox context menu add-on that automates things like putting in images, etc. It's called bbCodeWebEx.

    It no longer works in the new Blogspot HTML edit box.

    I am tracking down what the problem is now.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I write a daily blog, usually with ten or so pictures and two or three embedded YouTube videos. This was easy with the old system. Pictures were automatically inserted as medium sized thumbnails which you could click on to enlarge them to a maximum size of 1024 pixels. wide, 768 high. YouTube clips were inserted as the same size thumbnails, and you could enlarge them to full screen as they played. It worked fine.

    With the new interface:
    1. Pictures don't enlarge when you click on them, so they have to be inserted as big as will fit. Therefore they don't match the YouTube clips in the text.
    2. When making up the blog post, it's now very difficult to position pictures in the text by dragging them. They jump about uncontrollably.
    3. Attempts to position pictures left, right or centre usually don't work at all. Sometimes when you try to move a picture it gets deleted. This happens randomly.
    4. The text sometimes wraps around pictures when you don't want it to. This too happens randomly, and is very hard to sort out when it does.

    I've wasted hours trying to get my latest post looking halfway OK. In my opinion as someone who has been using Blogger for over eight years, this is a disaster, a complete shambles. I'm now experimenting with WordPress with the intention of migrating my blog to there.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I, too, hate the new Blogger interface. My 3200+ posts were written in Trebuchet typeface. "Trebuchet" in the new interface looks nothing like the typeface in all of my other posts.

    Also, I have experienced the problems with uploading photos some of you have mentioned.

    But now I'm really upset: Google seems to have removed the link you could use to revert to the legacy interface.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At least until they block it, you can do it this way:

      - Copy out the big long number on your blog view.
      - Paste it in where the XXX's are:

      https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=XXX&useLegacyBlogger=true#allposts

      Bookmark it and hope they don't notice.

      Delete
    2. Thanks so much for this. For now (9/24/20) it's still working.

      Delete
    3. Unfortunately, this stopped working for me last night. :-(

      Delete
    4. Yes, for me as well. It looks like they put a redirect into it to stop its use. How hostile can you get?

      Delete
  12. I hate new Blogger. I literally spent hours yesterday trying to do up a simple post that used to take minutes to do. Old Blogger was fast. It wasn't perfect but it worked well enough. New Blogger feels impossible to use with my switching between HTML and Compose trying to make sure the spacing is ok, because it keeps changing. And what kind of content input interface makes editing and selecting text so impossible? I know I'm going to have to learn about WordPress soon. Maybe it's a deliberate ploy to push us all away?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Please give us the old interface back! The new interface is not at all ready for prime time. It's taking me three times as long to do a blog post that before. I've been a faithful Blogger blogger since 2005! Help! Please listen to your faithful users. ckenb.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. I used to be able to insert a picture into a post and have automatic word wrap. Now it won't wrap at all, the image just sits on top of the text. What's going on? How can this be fixed or worked around?

    I'm using Chrome Version 85.0.4183.102, Windows 10, Lenovo Thinkpad X1. The problem is very straightforward. Like I mentioned, in the past if I wanted to add a picture to the body of a post I just selected insert photo, picked the one I wanted, then moved it to whatever location in the draft that I wanted it. Text would automatically wrap around the photo. Now the photo just sits there on top of the text and I can't get any word-wrap at all. This is a major issue! I'd transition to Wordpress if the export/backup function actually worked, but that's another problem. It always (always!) stops somewhere midway in the export/backup process so I can't even get a full XML file to export to another blogging platform (eg. Wordpress). I'm so disappointed and fed up with the new changes and inability to revert to the Legacy menu.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I've started a petition to stop this terrible interface. PLEASE SIGN! https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=XXX&useLegacyBlogger=true#allposts

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Certainl.. https://support.google.com/blogger/thread/74590919?hl=en

      Delete
  16. All my tags have disappeared! Hundreds of tags! They're still on the original blog posts, but when I put in a tag the tags don't auto-populate.

    Even now that I'm putting in tags on the new blogger, the tags I'm using don't auto-populate. It's like the new blogger mostly ignores tags.

    I figured out how to type in the tag manually and pull up old posts with that tag, sure, but you still have to TYPE IN THE ENTIRE TAG. It doesn't auto populate.

    Also, has anybody noticed there is a way to hit "select all posts" and then, geez, I think you could accidentally delete everything?

    Is Google trying to get rid of blogger? Are they deliberately making it bad? It's like you're hanging out in a dark, cool bar and then at 3 AM suddenly they turn on all the lights, turn off the music, and you can't buy anymore drinks.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Please tell me an easy way to get rid of the white borders around all my photos. They just appeared since the switchover and will ruin the look of some of my older posts which were supposed to have photos purposely very close together (i.e. NO space between them). I also can't post a png transparent image any more, as it comes out with a white background. This ruins MANY of my previous posts which featured artwork from the Victorian era which looked gorgeous as png transparents, but will look bloody atrocious with white frames around them! Transparent means transparent, doesn't it? Is there some way I can fix this without entering into the sheer hell of html codes and changing things I may not be able to change back? Things like this should be simple to set up. Borders, no borders. Click, click. That's the internet in 2020. We're not in 2012 any more and need an advanced degree to get rid of white borders. BTW, when I click on Theme it does not say "advanced" anywhere and does not allow you to change the setup. The drop-down menu says: Backup; Restore; Switch to first generation classic theme; Edit HTML; Mobile Settings. And that's it. There HAS to be a way to fix this!

    ReplyDelete
  18. The only other person I know who's unashamed to say publicly that he liked New Coke.

    I also liked New Coke. Asked my dad to buy as much as he could take out of the store when Coke announced that New Coke was going away. Dark times.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I also have over ten years of posts and I also HATE the "New Blogger," but my problem is when I go into the editing screen for any new or old post, I can't see anything. The entire "text area" is white and I can't seem to do anything to enter it. Clicking does nothing. And this is happening to me using Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.

    Any help would be very appreciated!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Facebook and blogger both have new looks at the same time and both suck

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's a browser extension called "Old Layout for Facebook" that forces Facebook to load the old interface. Hopefully someone can make a similar tool for Blogger.

      Delete
  21. Hey is there anyway you can backport this to cheetah/puma/jaguar/panther if not how would i do so

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If by this you mean TenFourFox, the simple answer is no, not in its current form. (The long answer is anything is possible but it would be a massive amount of work. See https://github.com/classilla/tenfourfox/wiki/AAATheFAQ#can-104fx-run-on-panther-jaguar-etc for an explanation.)

      Delete
  22. Yeah like how do I migrate my entire blog?..No old Blogger was not perfect..broken fonts were common..I just ignored them and did my best with spacing etc. I don't use HTML so encountered problems after the switch to Legacy...who chose to make HTML default (I didn't know I had to choose "compose view")? Do feel we're being driven away..check this out, "Fix &by-date=false Followers/Blog Archive Placement on Full Page
    Editing Followers/Blog Archive/Profile not effective..following a strange error regarding the editing of one of the posts on page all have migrated to bottom page..I'm getting a by-date=false url. for this one page only..no way of editing the whole page..seems to have occurred in html (which I don't use), had no idea I had to revert to "Compose" following loss of legacy.. I'll try republishing having edited the post in "compose" (reverted to draft having discovered error), but I'm not convinced this will alter the page view..any suggestions?
    I have just done that and on publishing lost Newer Posts/Home/Older Posts links as I had before..did not affect false placement of Followers et.al either on reverting to draft Newer Posts/Home/Older Post links reappeared but false placement remained! Something is broken on this page..

    Take a look.. https://www.arafel.co.uk/search?updated-max=2019-11-27T12:12:00-08:00&max-results=7&start=3&by-date=false"

    I've been working legacy for eight years.. but you know @Twitter did this when they switched from "classic" "Moments" became unusable (the add Tweet to moment facility disappeared..difficult to understand as this was surely the point of a "Moment" -or am I bit "senior"?-, and the header pictures have edited themselves appearing on some Moments and not others but whatever you have to add your header images when Tweeting anyway now _so don't bother simply Tweeting the "Moment"-, funnily enough you don't see any "Moments" now!)

    ReplyDelete
  23. I wonder if some of the new version's shortcomings could be addressed by third-party (preferably open source) software. Open Live Writer seems the most promising but hasn't been updated in over a year.

    ReplyDelete
  24. 💯
    This has been an extremely validating post and set of comments to read.

    Thank you all!

    All I can say is...
    🤬

    ReplyDelete
  25. I'm a professional blogger's user and I'm very much disappointed with new blogger interface. My experience includes:

    - Very slow feedback whenever happened changes in editing contents. You feel like someone's pulling your keyboard.
    - If you want tables or images to have width="100%", after switching to Compose View and back to HTML view, it disappeared! You have to reformat again.
    - No default ENTER to add new lines, you have to type
    instead. Real pain in the neck.
    - Simply switching from Compose View to HTML, you'll need to click 2 times (that stupid drop-down menu).
    ....

    ReplyDelete
  26. Glad to see I'm not the only one who doesn't like the changes made. I also don't think I'm getting the views I had before.
    Anyway very frustrating and hard to find things and find older posts and not able to view videos in draft like before. Also don't like the set up of the stats page.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Blogging since 2005. Absolutely despise the new interface. I do a lot of photos, and I want them in line, and I absolutely hate that if you do a set of center-aligned photos and then put in left-aligned text the new interface promptly decides that the next photo needs to also be left aligned. ARGH. H

    ReplyDelete
  28. You'd think that "Normal" would be the default setting - but not in the new interface - it's "Paragraph." You have to opt out of "Paragraph" to get to "Normal!" Incomprehensible!

    ReplyDelete

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