Critique and Criticism of the New Google Blogger Post Editor

According to the Blogger in Draft blog the "new" post editor was first released June 26, 2008.  Recently Google finally released the updated post editor, and made it available as an option under the settings tab on the Blogger control panel.

However, after one and a half years the "new" post editor still suffers from some disappointing shortcomings that make it only slightly better, or perhaps even worse, than the old post editor.  In this post I will explain my complaints about the new post editor and how I feel that these problems can be resolved.

Missing Features

In the original post from June 26, 2008 the Blogger team said that the new post editor was missing "spellcheck, video upload, and FTP file upload" among other things.  The post also promised:
Be patient: these will all come to the new editor over the upcoming weeks. Look for announcements on this blog.
A year and a half has passed and there is still no spellcheck or video upload in the new post editor.  Perhaps it was determined that these features were no longer needed.  Safari, Firefox, and other modern browsers tend to have built-in spellcheck.  And you can always upload videos through YouTube manually.  However, it looks to me like the project was simply never completed, especially when you consider other shortcomings that the new post editor has.

The Nonbreaking Space Glitch

The first and most important problem with the new post editor is its irritating insertion of nonbreaking space entities.  This HTML entity, indicated by the code   is used to manually make a space in a line of text.

By default HTML strips out duplicate spaces.  So if you make two spaces at the end of a sentence the browser will only display one space.  As a result on the web it has become fairly standard to see only one space between the end of one sentence and the start of the next, while in print it is more common to see two spaces between sentences.

The new Blogger post editor attempts to solve this problem by detecting duplicate spaces and inserting the nonbreaking space entity to force another space to appear.  But this has negative effects on the layout of text as shown in the following screenshot:



If the nonbreaking space character ends up at the start of the line it causes a one character text indent in the middle of the paragraph.  I have tested this in both Firefox and Safari.  If you look through this post and other recent posts on my blog you may find other occurrences of this irritating visual glitch.

First and foremost there should be an option to turn off this new nonbreaking space feature.  I for one do not want to have to go back through my post's HTML editing out all the nonbreaking space characters every time I write a post.  Many people are used to typing two spaces between sentences, especially if they do a lot of word processor work.  However that deeply ingrained muscle habit doesn't change the traditional custom of webpages having only one space between sentences.  And nonbreaking spaces should definitely not be allowed to mar the layout of text.

At the very least the code should be modified so that the nonbreaking space is appended to the end of the previous word, not the start of the next word.  For example here is a snippet of HTML created by the new post editor:

not the start of the next word.  For example here is a snippet.

Notice in the above example how the nonbreaking space is "connected" to the word "For".  The result of this is that if "For" ends up at the start of the next line it will have a space in front of it.  What should have been done is the nonbreaking space should have been "connected" to the end of "word."  This would eliminate the problem with whitespace at the beginning of lines because the whitespace would always be at the end of words.  If the whitespace caused the "word width" to extend beyond the end of the line the word would simply drop down to the next line, but this would not cause any visual glitch.

It appears to me that the post editor was not sufficiently tested prior to release, or someone would have noticed this glitch and figured out the simple fix of changing the location of the nonbreaking space entity.

The Bold Heading Paragraph Glitch

The second major glitch that I do not like about the new text editor is what happens if you try to type a bold heading.  Now if you are like me you probably make headings by typing the heading, selecting it and making it bold, pressing enter twice to make a new paragraph, and then pressing the bold button again to turn off bold and continue typing in a normal font.  However, when this is done in the new post editor it has disastrous effects on the HTML.

The new post editor produces the following HTML:

<b>The Bold Heading Paragraph Glitch</b><br />
<b><br /></b><br />
The second major glitch....


Note the fact that there are three <br /> tags.  This means that there are three new lines between the heading and the paragraph rather than the expected two lines.  I would have expected Blogger to produce, at the very worst, the following markup:

<b>The Bold Heading Paragraph Glitch</b><br />
<b></b><br />
The second major glitch....


Instead blogger inserts an extra newline tag. In the best case scenario Blogger should also detect the empty <b></b> tags and delete them. But perhaps I am asking too much. I've gotten too used to the WordPress post editor, which produces fairly clean HTML. I don't really require clean HTML from a post editor, although it would be nice.  The Blogger post editor just needs to produce visually correct HTML that reflects what was actually typed by the writer.

No Easy Way to Custom Size Images

Another complaint that I have about the new post editor is that the writer's options are quite limits when it comes to image sizing.  For example, view the following screenshot from the Blogger post editor, taken earlier while I was inserting the example image of the nonbreaking space glitch:



As you can see the only size options available are small, medium, large, and extra large, with each of these being predefined image sizes.  In the old post editor bloggers could click on the image and drag its edge to resize the image to any custom pixel dimensions that they desired.  Now this has to be done by editing the HTML and adding a CSS style attribute.  In my opinion that is a step back.  It is all very well to be able to change the alignment of the image, but there should definitely be an option or way to change the image to a custom size.

Additional Thoughts About Post Previews

I can't deny that one thing that I do like about the new post editor is its improved preview feature.  The new preview popup handles things such as the character entities used in this post much better than the old one.  Overall it is more dynamic and appears to use styling more similar to an actual post on a blog.  However, I find that it is not accurate when it comes to post width.  The post preview uses a post width of about 500 pixels.  However, most blogs, mine included, use post widths that are slightly wider.

Personally I feel that Blogger should follow WordPress' example of doing post previews in the blog template itself.  In other words when the blogger clicks on the preview link they should be taken to their blog and be able to see the post exactly as it will appear in their blog as a post.

Not only will this ensure that the post preview uses the blog's custom post width and CSS styling but it will also allow serious bloggers to analyze the placement of images in relation to elements in the sidebar, etc.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the specific complaints that I have with regard to the new Blogger post editor.  There are other minor formatting and styling glitches that I have noticed but they aren't always repeatable.  I have also encountered strange bugs with image uploading and other features, but they are not always repeatable either.  However, repeatable or not, these shortcomings make me feel that the new Blogger post editor is a step back, not a step forward.

What is especially disappointing is the fact that this post editor has apparently been in development for more than a year, yet it still feels like an unfinished product.  I understand that Blogger is trying to release new features for their tenth anniversary year, but I'm afraid that I'm not feeling the excitement when it comes to the changes they have made to the post editor.

11 comments:

  1. Wow, I had no idea so much was wrong with my blogger post editor! Luckily I have Firefox and haven't uploaded any pictures never mind videos so haven't come across these problems. Plus, I don't really know what I'm doing and haven't put much work into the look of my blog, yet.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You can always manually switch back to the old post editor which doesn't suffer from these irritating bugs. You can change the post editor under the settings tab of your blog's control panel.

    Thanks for commenting Campbell.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The old editor also suffers from an annoying bug concerning spaces. I post a lot of lines of programming code in PRE-formatted blocks, that contain spaces, and the editor messes it up every time you go back to re-edit your posts. I changed my habit of editing the HTML and tried to use blockquote in Compose mode instead, which does exactly the same thing. The editor likes eating spaces (and it's driving me crazy).

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree. I had noticed that in the old editor. Unfortunately while they fixed that bug in the new editor they introduced even more bugs. I wish they would get it right for once.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I find it hard to move the photos to the place where I want them to be and have no text at the side of a small one (the older FLOAT:LEFT) if I wanted text to float on the left of the photo, or could delete if not.

    New Editor does NOT work for me at all.
    Gabi blogging from Japan

    .

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hmm, I haven't had that much trouble moving the photos or images around, but I do agree that some aspects of the new float are a little awkward, and I keep finding myself editing the HTML to get photos to float beside each other.

    I would recommend spreading the news on your own blogs. The more people who complain about these problems the more likely it is that they will do something about it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've been using Blogger for years now and I am definitely evolving to a higher state - Wordpress. The Blogger's editor is so crappy and suffering from amateurish, ridiculous problems that it's becoming insulting. When I witnessed a bug where once you select a different font it doesn't change in the editor but some third font is displayed on the public post I decided that it's enough. Forums programmed in 1996 didn't have these pathetic bugs so for Google to BRAG about something as miserable as this is just soooo... amateurish.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have seen a few of those glitches. I would like to see blogger include all the things you say are missing, might make it easier. Over all I think Blogger is an amazing platform. I use it every single day.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I didn't know all of these bugs came with the new post editor. I have a question though, is there any bugs with the current post editor? I think that Get that apace problem when trying to compose a post in firefox, but I use Chrome most of the time and I don't have that problem.

    ReplyDelete