Monday, November 27, 2006

Blogger's needlessly steep learning curve

It was with a degree of trepidation that I "migrated", as they say, from Mark 1 to Mark 2 ("Beta") blogger. There was an instant payoff - photographs were suddenly accepted without murmur or protest, instead of being spat back after a 5 minute delay. But one knew there was bound to be a sting in the tail, and it didn't take long to show itself.

It's to do with those Labels (see list on right). They are an excellent idea in principle, showing the range of topics that one has touched upon over the weeks or months. Getting the Labels to display in Beta's supposedly user-friendly Layout mode was not the problem. It was the fact that one's hit meter and Technorati tag ( a kind of link to the Greater Blogosphere) disappeared when one tried to use Layout. Why ? Because the first step in using Layout requires starting from scratch with a new page template -even if it's only to stay with the present one . And that wipes the slate clean !

In the old system, add-ons like hit counters etc were a bit of a pain to instal . First one had to go online to find the authorising html code, which then had to be inserted into one's Template, heaven knows where, and it was trial and error finding precisely where it should go.

So, one thought to oneself, is it beyond the wit of man (or acned youth ) to come up with a system where one enters the html code into a kind of temporary holding receptacle or vehicle, and then leave Blogger software to do the rest, inserting it into the Template where necessary.

Well today, after two frustrating weeks, I discovered that such a receptacle does indeed exist. It's just that Blogger can't bring itself to use so mundane a description. Instead it calls the html container a "widget". And to make matters worse, it throws this term at one without bothering to explain what it means. Presumably one is supposed to know intuitively. Speaking for myself, I thought "widget" was a generic term for a gadget, device, invention, gizmo whatever, generally something tangible, concrete, discrete and three-dimensional, not some little bit of utility software . What's the point of having a little program to reduce anxiety and stress if you then go and give it a silly name that disguises its role, thereby creating a whole lot of hassle for layfolk without IT diplomas ?

Is there a compulsory module for web designers entitled " Essential preliminaries for winding up those punters ?"

Once the semantics are made clear, it's a doddle. In fact I used Blogger's question-answer facility first, and here's how the correspondence went:

Help. I recently upgraded to Beta Blogger. But when I tried to add a list of Labels using the new Layout, I lost both my hit counter andTechnorati icon. So for the moment I am back on the old template, trying to figure out what to do next. Other bloggers say that one can copy and paste from old to newtemplate, but it's not clear where to insert in the new template ( and am I right in thinking that the code is different language, with all that widget stuff etc ?).Blogger's Help file is no help whatsoever, with all the gobbledegook about attributes, widgets etc. Can anyone tell me how to get transfer my existing hit counter and Tech' into a new Layout template - in plain English, please ? Thanks Colin B

Ed. Nov 28, 16.30 Correspondence deleted at request of author. A misunderstanding - the specialized email address caused me to think it was advice from BlogCentral !


And finally, this help (the clincher) came from Chuck ("nitecruzR") on Blogger's Q/A facility:

Hi Colin,
Most hit counters, and the Technorati icon, are all coded in plain old HTML / JavaScript. You should be able to simply copy the code for each page element right into a new HTML / JavaScript page element in the Page Layout wizard.

Now here's the incredible thing: when you go to Beta's layout page, looking for HTML/JavaScript, as suggested above, there it is, in a box, plain to see, ie:

HTML/JavaScript

Add third-party functionality or other code to your blog.

But do you notice something (apart from more unwelcome gobbledegook) ? Nowhere is the box or its text identified as one of those "widgets". And nor for that matter are any of the other 11 or so receptacles for html code. In other words, the whizz kids at Blogger have coined a term that is vague and non-intuitive, have bandied it around in all their Help files on the assumption we would all know what it means, and then failed to use it themselves where it is most needed. The perverseness of these people doth pass all understanding !

When in due course they arrive at the Pearly Gates, I hope St. Peter will set them a never-ending series of puzzles and conundrums to solve, barring their entry to Paradise, while we, the long-suffering victims of their dismally mislabelled jargon-laden earthly wares, will be in full view, letting our hair down, whooping it up, enquiring politely through the railings as to what might be causing the hold-up.

PS Added Tue 28th. I've just discovered something worth mentioning about Beta Blogger. If you sign into your Beta account with your name and password ( aka Google account) and then visit the blog of someone else who has moved to Beta, you will find that any comments you have posted to that blog have a dustbin symbol underneath. In other words, one can have second thoughts, and erase any comments written in haste ! Not that any of YOU would ever be guilty of such a thing.......

PPS. One of the irritations in using Beta is having continually to identify oneself with name and password. I must be doing this a dozen times a day or more. Log- in details are kept in the system's memorywhile one confines oneself to shuttling between one Beta blog and another. But they are lost as soon as one moves off to a non-Beta site. What is particularly unforgiveable, given that Beta is tied in with Google, is having to sign in again after doing a Google search, which this blogger typically does several times a day. This system needs to be made a lot more user-friendly.

tester






1 comment:

ColinB said...

Here's a PS to the post:

I've just discovered something worth mentioning about Beta Blogger. If you sign into your Beta account with your name and password ( aka Google account) and then visit the blog of someone else who has moved to Beta, you will find that any comments you have posted to that blog have a dustbin symbol underneath. In other words, one can have second thoughts, and erase any comments written in haste ! Not that any of YOU would ever be guilty of such a thing.......