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The ongoing disaster that is the new Blogger interface

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Order of the same posts in new Blogger CMS (left)
versus new blogger iphone app (right)
(Click image to see larger version)
Welcome to my own personal hell.  Welcome to the new Blogger content management system, created by Google, that is incompatible with iPhones or iPads, and whose iphone app is a complete and utter disaster.

I've written before about Google's attempt to update the Blogger content management system, and the disaster they've made of it.  But I wanted to, now that I have some time, walk you through how badly Google's engineers botched the new CMS.  This has huge implications for anyone who blogs on the Blogger platform, but it also doesn't speak well to what kind of a company Google has become if it signs off on this kind of garbage, and it really is just that - garbage.

First off, have a look at the image above (you can click the image in order to see a readable version, but you don't really need to).  What I did was place the new Blogger Web interface (left) up against the new Blogger iPhone app (right).  Both images were taken within two seconds of each other.  Both images show completely different posts.

First, note the order of the posts.  I've connected the posts on the left to the posts on the right, using different colors. Note how the posts on Blogger's Web page are in a different order than the posts on the iPhone app - and some posts from each simply don't show up at all.  Let's say we number the posts on the left 1 to 8, in chronological order, and then see which posts they correspond to on the right.  So for example "1-5" means post 1 on the Blogger's Web interface is the same as post 5 on Blogger's iPhone app.

Web vs iPhone
1 - 5
2 - 1
3 - 4
4 - 11
5 - 3
6 - 2
7 - 15
8 - 6

Kind of nonsensical.  Oh but there's more.

A few weeks ago, we were forced to switch over to the new interface.  The new Web interface, as I mentioned, doesn't work on iPhones (it freezes) or iPads (it auto-deletes your posts' content then saves them empty - neat trick).  Here's an example of a post on the iPad that Blogger simply opened up empty of content and then auto-saved the empty content immediately, thus deleting the lengthy post that was there previously.  I was ticked, so I took a photo of it.

A post on iPad that Blogger simply deleted, then saved empty.
Now first off, who designs a Web page in 2012 that can't work on an iPad's, let alone an iPhone's, Web browser?  When I asked Blogger about this months ago, I was told that you're supposed to use their mobile app when using the iPhone or iPad (nice of them to make that decision for us).  But of course, the iPhone app doesn't work either.  In addition to screwing up the order of the posts, the iPhone app first didn't label which posts were published, which were draft, and which were scheduled to be published.  So there was no way to edit them, not knowing what their status was.  In fact, up until a week or two ago the iPhone app didn't even show scheduled posts at all, they were just missing entirely from the list of posts.

Mind you, Google had months to fix these problems, this app has been out there live forever.

Then they fixed the "draft" problem, but the iPhone app  still didn't show scheduled posts at all - the posts were simply missing from the app all together, thus you have no idea if you have a post queued up to go, and whether you need to write something or not this afternoon.

Now, scheduled posts do show up in the app, but they're still not marked scheduled.  They're instead marked the same way as published posts, so you don't know if a post has been published or scheduled. But at least you can now tell if a post is in draft.

Then there's the time stamp.  You can't see the time stamp on the Web image above, but I have it on my computer.  Take the post I published at 8am this morning, about the DEA abandoning a college student in a cell for 5 days with no food and water.  I scheduled that post to publish at 8am Eastern.  And the Web page indicated that clearly.  On the iPhone app the post is time stamped 11:05am.  I have no idea what that even means.  I think that's the time I actually scheduled the post - not the time I scheduled the post for, but rather the time in Paris (11:05am) when I sat down and pushed the "publish" button to schedule the post to be published this morning in the US.  Why the different times on the same post - who knows?  So now, even though the app shows posts, it not only combines scheduled posts and published posts, but for scheduled posts the time stamp on the iPhone doesn't tell you when the post is scheduled to be posted, it simply tells you when you sat down at your computer to schedule the post.  Who needs to know that?

And of course the iPhone app doesn't permit you to schedule posts, nor does it permit you to unpublish a post you've already published.  Let me explain the latter.  Let's say you accidentally publish a post while using the iPhone app - something I did within the first minute of using the app.  You have no option to unpublish the post, to save it again as a draft.  Your only option is to delete the entire post and lose it forever.  Why?  Who knows.  When I asked Blogger about this, I was told that the app wasn't intended to have fancy features (my paraphrase).  Unpublishing a post is fancy?  Scheduling posts is fancy?  Showing which posts are already scheduled is fancy?  Listing the posts in chronological order - or at least in the same order they are on the computer - is fancy?  Using a consistent method for time-stamping the posts if fancy?

Oh, and here's another fun little thing Blogger did with their new update.  They're forcing Americans to use a French calendar.  Seriously.  American calendars start every week on a Sunday.  French calendars starte every week on a Monday.  It matters.  When scheduling a post for a future time while using Blogger on your computer, you're presented with this calendar that you're supposed to click on to pick the date.  Good luck trying to figure out what day is Thursday in the third of fourth week of the month. Every single time you have to look back at the top of the calendar and verify the day because we don't do days like that in the states.

Now, I got a little lecture from someone at Blogger about how most of their users aren't American.  Yeah.  I've lived in France a few times, I'm familiar with the calendar.  But Google seems to do just fine changing the language of their interface based upon where you are, or what choice you select.  Why not let people select a foreign calendar if they want one?

And in fact, contrary to the Blogger executive's assertion to the contrary, the rest of the world does not use the French calendar where Monday is the first day of the week. In fact, it differs by country, even within Europe - a lot of countries start on Sunday, a lot on Monday, and even some on Saturday.  In other words, Blogger arbitrarily decided to shift to an entirely different calendar and force it on their users worldwide, when they could have simply given the users the choice.

And another thing.  In the old interface, you could see the titles of a good 12 posts above the fold of your Web browser.  Now with the new interface, you can see only 6 posts.  Why?  Apparently Google thought it would be really cool to give the users a lot of empty white space on the page.  Neat-o!  And funny, I mentioned this to them a few months ago, and now others online, who I don't even know, are making the same complaints. Whodathunk I actually know something about this blogging thing?

We are in the process of figuring out how to move our blog over to WordPress, after 8 years with Blogger.  I enjoyed working with a number of Blogger's top people, and Google's top people, in the past, including people I didn't even realize were top people, like Biz Stone (I just figured he was some helpful guy at Google LOL).  But the service has been slow to update, they never understood the need for group blogs a la DailyKos, and now this new interface quite literally kills the ability to mobile blog.  I've been in Europe this past 10 days or so, first in Sweden doing some work and then attending the Netroots Sweden conference, and now am in France strategizing with Chris about the move to WordPress and, more generally, figuring out a long-term strategy for the blog over the next few years.  I couldn't mobile blog all while in Sweden, even though I had Web access. I would have had to carry my ten pound laptop with me everywhere, walking half an hour back and forth to my hotel, and it just wasn't worth it.  I had my iPad, but what's the point in bringing it with if Blogger is simply going to delete my posts?

The blogger app has been live since at least September 3, 2011 - and it appears it hasn't been update since, at least that's what the iPhone's app store says.  No updates in 8 months.  Yet Google is now forcing people to use an app that isn't ready for prime time, and hasn't been updated for 8 months.  And read the reviews for the iPhone app over at the store - they're horrible.

This new content management system, that isn't even compatible with the iPhone and the iPad, and this iPhone app that looks like it was written by a child, are an embarrassment to Google.  Someone should be fired for designing this garbage, for approving of the design, for making such inferior, not-ready-for-prime-time products live, and then for not even bothering to update them for over half a year.

I have been a big fan of Blogger over the years and have extolled their virtues.  But this is obscene.  You'd be fired if you did this at a lesser company.  At a place like Google, this should never have even happened in the first place.

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