All content on this blog from Tim McGhee has moved to the Tim McGhee Substack, and soon, Lord willing, will be found only on that Substack.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Blogger vs. WordPress

A moment of decision is arriving. I neither requested nor anticipated this would come.

Blogger is launching a new editor. A few months ago using it was voluntary. In July it became the default with an option to revert to the previous editor. Now Blogger is saying the previous editor goes away in September.

The new editor is inferior. It's focus is not on text editing which is significantly worse in the new editor.

It's hard to convince myself Google is listening to its users. The only good sign of such is their threat to remove the old editor by August 24 appears to have been delayed to September.

Even something as basic as post dates has become difficult for Google. If I start a post draft, choose a date for it in the future, and save it to finish later, the post list correctly lists it in order of intended publication date, and then for some mystifying inexplicable reason thinks it should show me the date I started the draft. For someone who plans a lot ahead as I do here, this makes for a garbled mess of a post list.

Today, I'm 15,775 days old, so that means I'm 75% of my way through this latest 100 posts of 1,000. Normally I only write about that at 100-day milestones, but this crisis of blogging interface usability is forcing the issue.

Scheduling future drafts in the new editor is nothing but confusing with this date problem. As I see it, I have two choices:

1. Schedule posts for the rest of my 1,000 days of writing before the changeover, and then be done with scheduling on Blogger altogether.

2. Stop scheduling posts altogether now, and possibly move to a blogging platform like WordPress that understands how users think about scheduling posts.

I have used Blogger a lot. The frequently recurring problems with this new editor have made me contemplate moving away entirely. I imported a copy of this blog on WordPress to test their editor.

WordPress uses a “block editor.” It seemed ok until I tried to copy several paragraphs into a post, and then each paragraph became a separate block. If I wanted to edit the source code to make comprehensive changes to something in a post, I'd have to do it separately for each block. That would be very inefficient. Even Blogger's new interface isn't that bad. 8/15 Update: Turns out WordPress can do both (by-paragraph, and by-post source editing). It just buries the “code editor” for the whole post/draft in a tiny menu in the top right.

Blogger has some useful features like emailing posts as drafts or live posts. I have a couple blogs using that feature regularly, so they'll probably stay.

I have a lot of tedious updating on blog content sourcing to accommodate the no-more-
-conversion editor change that I'd rather not be necessary.

For most of my blogs, I don't write ahead that much. (I don't have a 1,000-day writing commitment for them either.) Here, I do, but this post list date problem is unworkable. I can't be forced to open every single post—of dozens scheduled—every time to see when I've decided to have it go live. As ridiculous as the need would be, even if I were to use a separate tool for tracking my scheduled posts, there's still no guarantee it would be accurate.

Next month, I'll only have 20% left in this writing commitment. My need/desire to schedule posts will dissipate, and I may drop this habit altogether. (How many people would miss my book reading excerpts?)

I could shift to just posting on my Web site, as I've done before.

Google can force this new interface on its users, as it seems determined to do, but one way or another, I am determined to find a way out of dealing with an inferior user experience that causes confusion and frustration instead of productivity.

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