Revamped Blogger post editor rattles users

A new version of Google's Blogger blog publishing service that went into public testing last week has generated some concerns among users, especially regarding a significant revamping of the tool for composing and modifying postings.

In the official Google blog entry detailing the post editor changes, many testers have commented that the revamped tool differs too much from the current one, causing confusion, frustration and mistakes.

Since the post editor and the other changes being tested will eventually be rolled out to all Blogger publishers, Google is encouraging users to give the upgrade a whirl and chime in with their feedback. Publishers can try out the new and modified features by signing in to their blog accounts from the service's testing site: Blogger in Draft.

Google announced the changes on Thursday and summarized them in a posting in the official Blogger in Draft blog. Blogger users can add their comments to that entry or to several other posts in the Blogger in Draft blog that Google published on Thursday, detailing some of the individual changes.

At this point, it seems that if a Blogger user only has time to try out one feature, it should be the new post editor, which has generated the most feedback. In fact, it seems that the volume and variety of complaints resonated with Blogger staffers, who on Tuesday posted guidelines for testers to report problems with the new post editor.

"As many of you have noticed, the new editor handles HTML somewhat differently from the old editor, and tricks and conventions you may be used to are not working or screwing up your post's formatting," a Blogger official identified as Pete wrote.

"We would like to fix as many inconsistencies and problems as we can before we unleash the new editor on all Blogger users, so we'd really appreciate reproducible bug reports when you see a problem," he wrote.

In addition, the ambitious upgrade has a new import feature that is currently limited to 1M-byte file transfers, leading to frequent failed import attempts. Google has recognized the 1M-byte import ceiling as a bug for being too low, and the company is working on a fix.

"In principle, it would be possible to import multiple times into the same blog, in essence stitching together a single blog, but this might not be a very user-friendly experience," a Google spokesman said via e-mail.

Another current limitation for this feature is that only Blogger blogs can be imported. The feature would become more useful if it allowed users to import blogs from competing services, like WordPress and TypePad. To be imported, the file has to be an Atom-formatted XML (Extensible Markup Language) file; it can be imported either as a new blog or merged into an existing blog.

The import feature has a companion export functionality that is unaffected by the 1M-byte limit. The export feature lets publishers store as an XML file their postings and comments on their PC hard drives as a backup file or to move that content to a competing blog publishing service. The export function doesn't cover blog settings and templates, which have to be transferred out of Blogger via other methods.

Blogger users routinely complain that Google has been slow to give the service features that competitors have had for years. Thus, in comments at the Blogger in Draft official blog and in their own blogs, early testers have generally welcomed the upgrade, which also adds much-awaited capabilities like the ability for readers to give star ratings to posts and a new comment form that is embedded in blogs' post pages.

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