Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Blogger Editing Fubars - Past and Present

Blogger has a new interface!   It's probably about time.

Over the last decade or so, I have written literally thousands of blog postings (this will be #4245).   And over the years, blogger has improved, mostly.  They are rolling out a new interface this month, and next month, you will no longer be able to go back to the "legacy" mode.  For the most part, it is window dressing - changing the shape of the icons to make them look more modern.  Readers may not notice the changes at all, other than the new "look" I inadvertently clicked on, not realizing that once I did, I could not go back to the old.   Doh!

One of the weird things about blogger early on was that when you used the quotation mark (") in italics, it would push the mark on the display over the next character.   So you may notice in older postings I have not edited that there is a space _ between the first quotation mark and a word in italics.   So "italics" might appear as " italics" because under the old blogger, the latter would display as the former.

But that was not the only fubar.  As you can see, I prefer "full justification" of text, as I think it is easier to read.  left justification looks sloppy - although many "mainstream" news sites use it, because, let's face it, they're clueless.   Well, somewhere along the way, blogger allowed for full justification, and over the years, I have re-edited older postings to put in full justification.   If you see an older posting with left justification, it probably was not edited by me - yet.

But even attempts to put in full justification often fail.  The blogger interface allows you to type out a document and use icons to insert special effects like italics, underlining, or boldface or strikeout or change colors or whatnot.   The blogger editor then creates the HTML - or tries to - to create the effect you want.

When you select a block of text and hit the "full justify" icon, it will insert, generally, a "DIV" command in the text to do this.   But for some reason, if the previous paragraph was centered or italics, it will do this with a "SPAN" command, which will not "render" as full justification but instead as left justification.   The only way to change this is to go to the HTML editor and manually erase the commands and re-justify the paragraph.   Ahhh.. the mysteries of HTML - or more precisely, automated HTML editors.

In some instances, blogger just loses its mind, particularly if you cut-and-paste some HTML-heavy document into a blog posting.   There is so much "code" embedded in the text, the rendering engine just can't keep up, particularly with a slow connection and slow computer.   For example, when I tried to insert an e-mail from a Nigerian Scammer who responded to me about the fictional Casita for sale, it was so loaded with HTML codes it crashed my computer.    It was pretty amazing stuff, frankly.

The only way to deal with this is to use the "Tx" command, which instantaneously removes all HTML from the text, leaving it as bare text to be reformatted.  If I cut-and-paste from a news site, for example, it may "embed" pages of HTML code into the text, to the point where it will not render, or they have some sort of odd formatting, tables, background colors or God-knows-what-else.

It was then that I realized that it is a pretty neat trick to create HTML code from someone typing - with a few simple commands.  Oftentimes, what I intend to create doesn't quite work out as rendered.  Again, older postings may often have odd fonts or font sizes, before I figured out what the problem was.  Importing HTML from outside sources is often the problem.

I wish I had taken more courses in various coding techniques as a student.  But back then, people pooh-poohed software as mere grunt work - with no future or profit to it. Something called "hypercard" became a thing, but no one seemed to know what it was all about. The guy who created it was high on LSD at the time.   This "Hypercard" included something called "Hypertext" but no one thought that would go anywhere, either.  But of course, this lead, indirectly, to Hypertext Markup Language, or HTML, which drives the Internet today.  Every site you visit is pretty much a bunch of HTML coding, including the site you are reading right now.

I never learned to "program" HTML, although I can spot some common commands like IMG SRC to link to an image, or AHREF which links to another site.

No one likes change, of course, and the "new" Blogger will have its share of frustrations, I am sure, and some things I used to be able to do, I will no longer have access to.   But then again, given how primitive it was a decade ago, anything is an improvement!