Why blogger and blogspot suck

by Anthony on May 4, 2006

So today at work, just as its time to go home, I hear Tina swear under her breath. “Why is this font so tiny?”

She was publishing a post for Tailored.com.au, which uses blogger. Blogger is kinda nice in a lot of ways. Its free, its easy, any dummy can do it. And you can set up your own templates to keep the blog in theme with the rest of your site. Blogger allows you a blogspot account – so your blog is visible at http://you.blogspot.com, but also allows ‘publishing’ – that is, you write your posts in blogger and then blogger creates pages on your server via an FTP connection. It creates an index page that lists all the recent posts, and summaries each month for archives, as well as an individual page for each post. (See example, Tailored post about gold coast accommodation)

So whats so bad about that?

Well sure, you say that now. After all, you’re not the one who looked closely at today’s blog post, trying to figure out why the font was funny. It looked fine in blogger’s preview function, but once it was published, it was just all kinds of messed up.

So I hit the ‘view source’ button.

You see, blogger uses a WYSIWYG editor – what you see is (never) what you get. Its a way of easily writing HTML posts in an Microsoft Word-like interface. Its easy. You get a button to change font, a button to bold things, or change colour, or indent, and so on.

Blogger, it would seem, does not use a good WYSIWYG editor. When I viewed source, I saw horrible code soup like this:

<span style="font-weight: bold"><span style="font-size: 85%">Here's some actual text. My oh my, does it look funny!</span></span>

<span> tags are just a way of modifying style in-line.
<div> tags and so forth are block elements. Inline is what you’d do to change one word in a sentence to red, for example. It allows you to use inline CSS, instead of the old <font color=”red”> markup. Inline CSS isn’t much better than the oldschool markup, when its done like that, in my view. But hey, at least its CSS!

This is a common problem with WYSIWYG editors! (Especially if you’re pasting text from a word document, but thats a whole other whine.)

My own favourite WYSIWYG editor is called TinyMCE. Its great! I use it in all the custom-made applications for content-management and so forth we do at work. There’s another one out there, FCK Editor – its reputedly good, but I’ve never had cause to look for an alternative to TinyMCE.

TinyMCE is utilised a lot by a commonly used software development company – like the latest version of WordPress, for example. Its easy to understand why.

Back to Blogger. It seems they’ve created their own, rather than using a pre-existing one. In a way thats fine, I usually prefer not to rely on code that someone else has written. I just have more faith in the stuff I write, and since I know it intimately already, its heaps easier for me to customise and implement.

But blogger, oh blogger, what have you done! Its horrible!

And that is why blogger sucks. I guess its fine for most people. But we’re a web development firm, specialising in search-engine optimization work. So when our own blog is full of tags like <span style=”font-weight: bold”> instead of <strong> tags, well, that just doesn’t seem right to me.

For your information: making text bold means nothing by itself. <strong> is a tag with inherent meaning: it tells the search engine that the words are important. Making them bold is just a presentational thing, there’s no actual meaning behind it.

[tags]blogger, blogspot, rant[/tags]

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