05 January 2007

Feature requests for the new Blogger

Blogger not in beta

Living with the new Blogger for about a month and a half now, I want to make my own 'Please include these Blogger' feature requests post to Blogger. As I noted here, I can't find the feature request page from Blogger, and hence am lead to believe that once again they have removed it to avoid tons of feature suggestions pouring in from people. Although when they 'did' launch the new Blogger, they said that labels was the 'most requested' feature. I wonder how those requests reached them :P So here is my list of requests from Blogger.

The more immediate concerns

  • Trackbacks: This is one thing that Blogger has lacked right since the beginning, many people complaining and trying to find a workaround. Stephen came up with the Blogger Trackback pinging userscript, but why not have it natively in the post editor? How hard would it be to take all details and send 'one' XMLHTTPRequest to a 'user' specified URL? Not very, especially since Blogger can provide all the data it needs to work with. We need to hack our way to get the data to make our workarounds. Do the math! Also, that is only outgoing. What about incoming trackbacks? I know Google is proud of their search (which is used to track the backlinks), but why not stick to the standard everyone else seems to follow?

  • Custom fields: This is my 'personal' request to Blogger, and something I will be genuinely very thankful for if they add it. It would be the ultimate addition to the post details, as it'll be a way to hold data 'associated' with the post, but doesn't have to be a part of the post. Maybe you'd like to share a little anecdote about the post you made? A summary? You can display these on the main page with a 'Read More' type link, and show the whole post without this part on the post page. Throw in a special keyword in there to distinguish for something. Ofcourse, I have much more powerful uses in mind, but this is one of the basic ones which could be used by everyone!

  • Documentation: I know Avatar will agree with me on this. The new Blogger though boasts a powerful new template language, it lacks the one thing that will allow us to effectively use it. We know what variables are there, but don't know the exact tree it is held in. Which is why I ran into trouble when I tried to recode the Archives widget to show it in a drop down box. I got it workingLook at the sidebar at my test blog. It works, but I still have to use Javascript to make every option work, don't know why standard HTML attribute doesn't work., but after some playing around with different possibilities. We can all avoid that if we just had the proper explicit documentations.

Not dire, but not unimportant

  • Comment Editing: How many times have you seen a comment which is perfectly fine except for that 'one' thing which you wish you could remove? Phydeaux3 had found a way of doing so for the old Blogger, but that is broken now, and no method seems to be that obvious at the moment. But again, why try to play cat and mouse, and not have it straight from Blogger itself? Giving the blog author complete control over all 'posts' on his blog (whether it be his posts, or others postsI don't know if the method has changed in the new Blogger, but Jasper's script in the old Blogger worked by loading up the comments ID with Blogger's native post editor.

    This showed that comments were also treated as a type of 'post' by Blogger. Probably they've changed this, which is why this method is broken now.
    ) is something Blogger does for team blogs, so why not add comments into the 'editable' list?

  • XHTML Strictness: Most of us don't adhere to XHTML 1.0 Strict standards (I have covered this topic in-depth this post), and code incoming from Blogger is not even close to adhering to HTML standards. Only they can fix that, but they aren't. It has remained straight through the old Blogger and the update. The first step would be to put rules in the template editor, which would cause atleast some retribution. Then extend that to the post editor. We can't follow strict XHTML in the post editor, because most of the time we end up adding elements with in-line styles, or scripts and codes. Whenever you upload an image to Blogger, the code inserted follows absolutely 'no' XHTML specification. Hence, the first move would be to convert everything to CSS classes, insert them by default in the template with all the other paraphernalia Blogger inserts automatically, and then use references to them in the codes they generate.

  • Search feed: We have most the feeds that almost every mainstream platform offers todayFeeded to the teeth. Ironically however, the one feed we don't have is the 'search' feed for the blog specific search. This might be a little server intensive, I don't know. But it sure is a requirement, since it can be used to keep track of keywords appearing in posts. It can also be used to power hacksI think Google might be trying to cut down these 'search' hacks, and want people to use their Google AJAX Search API more to get things done. The cause could be anything from not wanting to load up their servers, to unifying data generation for searches. Personally I think Google should give 'us' the choice of how we want our data.. But only if it exists in the first place.

I am not undermining the update! It has been some solid work from Blogger. But the release definitely seems hurried, especially now that it is out of Beta. That generally means all the nitty gritties should be fixed, and people should get all the stuff they want without too much trouble. I won't go to the extreme Avatar did, but I will say that Blogger has some loose ends to tie up before 'I' begin to call this version a truly 'power' platform.

Phydeaux3 has posted up a request for a way to get native stats from Blogger. Personally I had thought that the new Blogger would also mark the re-launch of one of Google's most highly awaited acquisitions, Measuremap. This didn't happen, but I believe that it will be integrated into Blogger, and it is meant for Blogger.

Let's hope it happens... We could surely do with the fantastic stats!

Also, Google has integrated Blogger with their Documents and spreadsheets (you can see the link on the page after you publish a post), so you can straightaway post from there! I don't know what's the use though. They could just improve the post editor now, couldn't they? :P


Deepak said...

Talk about documentation! It takes a whole lot of trial and error to figure out a few things in the new template.

Had some trouble with template yesterday, when I tried to implement author comment highlight without JS. Couldn't figure out where it was going wrong.

Aditya said...

Haha! I had trouble with that in the beginning too. It does seem very tempting to write a simple function, but in the long run, using the Blogger language makes your pages that much faster! :P

Hope you got it done! Or else I could tell you the way I did it if you didn't. My way adds a little 'extra' something which I can choose to exploit if I feel the need to ;)

Avatar said...

"to the extreme Avatar did"


well, i see you are seeig more and more into the short comings i saw when they launched it as a "beta", the thing that depress me the most is that the other platforms will get upgrades in the coming months and we will be once again behind the times from the native form.

Only The Bleet can save us!!!!!


Aditya said...

Heh! Well those are the only 'mission-critical' flaws that I've seen. The others that you have spoken about, I'll probably see them with use.

What I 'am' saying though is the fact that even though Blogger still has some fixing to do, it 'is' still a major improvement over the old one. And we should be thankful!

I thank, then ask for more! :P

phydeaux3 said...

I thank, then ask for more! :P

Always the best option. :-)

I kinda like the backlinks better than trackbacks, but I suppose I'm just odd that way.

And a bit off-topic, but what's up with Avatar's Bloggeratto??? I keep getting an 'invited readers only' message for the last few days...and apparently I wasn't invited. How terrible. :-)

Aditya said...

I have recently been taken in by trackbacks and how they work. I seem to be wanting them more and more everyday :P Even if Google doesn't come up with inbound trackbacks, they should allow us to send them natively! Will be a big relief!

And as far as Bloggeratto goes, stay tuned! Avatar has something big in store for us! :)

phydeaux3 said...

Oh my, well this should be interesting. :-)

Avatar said...

"Bloggeratto goes, stay tuned! Avatar has something big in store for us! :)"

oh christ.. as if it were not hyped up enough...