Thursday, January 21, 2021

Blogger Gets Harder to Use

AND IT'S MY FAULT

figure straining to push a huge boulder
Sam Beebe/Ecotrust (CC BY-SA 3.0)
The latest casualty in Google's War On Usability is the class of Quick Edit tools that many of us use to maintain our blog and perform other editorial functions.

Crossed wrench and screwdriver icon These are little icons—a pencil, or a wrench crossed over a screwdriver—that linked directly from a post or widget to its respective editing window. Very handy!

So, why did this happen? And, can anything be done about it?

The answer to why is this.

It is my fault.

Update: Google has reversed course on this, at least for now.

On this blog on January 16 I praised the quick-edit tools and cited them as one reason why I was sticking with older blog themes versus newer responsive ones:
The Responsive themes do not support the "quick edit" tools, which let me edit posts and widgets directly from the blog itself. I find this very useful, especially given other recent changes to the blogger back end.

Four days later (yesterday), the option was gone. Since correlation always means causality, you now know whom to blame.

(You'd think I would learn. The digital ink was barely dry on my nine-part series on how to insert images into blog posts when Google revamped the whole look and feel. All those screenshots!)

Perhaps I should just give up blogging about Blogger.

More seriously: can you do anything about this?

A Quick-Edit Workaround

Here's the good news: if your blog theme had these links, they are still present and you can make them visible by adding a few lines of code to your blog via the Customizer.

The bad news is that if you do, everyone who views your blog will see them. The links won't work for them, but the icons will be visible.

The code depends on your blog theme and may not be present. For this one and many of the older themes the code is
.item-control {
display:initial;
}
which clears away a setting that blocks the display of the item.

(Note the double negative, typical of software logic.)

You can add it in the customizer under Advanced > Add CSS—no need to edit your theme xml.

A Better Workaround

It should be possible to restore the link using a browser extension. Only you would see it and the link would still work.

At least for now.

I am working on this. Stay tuned.

Update: Got it.

29 comments:

  1. These disappeared for me when using Safari a long time ago. But they would still appear when using Chrome. Now they are gone in Chrome as well.

    So did then intentionally remove these? That is crazy. Hoping for that browser extension! Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My theory, which is re├źnforced by the Safari analogy, is that Google did something related to third-party cookies and it hit Blogger squarely in the functionality.

      Delete
  2. Harder indeed, the disappearance of the quick edit tool is maddening. Also...

    On the old version it was easy to embed Google Books pages, tweets, etc. Now, it just displays code. Do you happen to know how to do this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Phil, I do this sort of thing on my main blog (not here) from time to time and have not noticed any significant changes. We have always had to paste code into HTML mode.

      If you are doing that and having problems, may I suggest that you take it to the help community?

      Delete
  3. I’m bummed out but not surprised to learn about this. In Safari I was able to get those icons back by allowing cross-site tracking — helpful when editing an old post. But I haven’t turned cross-site tracking back on for some time.

    Something strange: my wife recently posted a link to a post of mine to her Facebook account. Facebook added the little pencil as an obligatory picture. Maybe it’s their default for anything from Blogger?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michael, the Safari story is actually suggestive, see my note to John Cox above.

      As for Facebook, my guess is it latched to those images when it could not find another one in the shared post. But who knows why FB does anything.

      Delete
  4. There's already a Chrome extension that does this. I've been using it for years (still works too) on the new responsive templates.

    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/blogspot-quickedit-links/hpdcclojnmclpjhgaaaffafcpkiabkeg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Sam, this is exactly the approach I am checking out. It is working fine for me on Chrome.

      No need to wait for me, but I'm planning a follow-up blog post on it tomorrow.

      Delete
    2. Ah sorry I added an extra " in in the link. Here's the correct link: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/blogspot-quickedit-links/hpdcclojnmclpjhgaaaffafcpkiabkeg

      Delete
    3. Still no luck getting DELETE to appear on comments I posted :(

      Delete
    4. @Brie, the workaround in this (above) post only applies to bogs yoou control. So it won't give you access to comments on other blogs.

      The browser-based workaround that Sam and I have linked to lets you unhide stuff anywhere. And it works for the "delete this comment" option as well.

      I have just published a new post about the comments problem.

      Delete
  5. everything Google is crap by definition. so bugs are to be expected really.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I hadn’t realized that you were so powerful.

    Couldn’t you praise some bad future and have Google remove it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This new superpower of mine is right up there with the one that always puts me in the slowest checkout line.

      Delete
  7. This workaround is really helpful, and personally more appealing than a browser extension, so thank you very much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It also unhides the link that allows others to delete their comments only theirs) from your blog. I am considering applying it to this blog.

      Delete
  8. This CSS has saved me hours of tantrum and rage. Many thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Adam - thanks for Stylebot - is a fix for now, of the desktop anyway.

    In the Help forum
    This thread appears to be the one with most upvotes: https://support.google.com/blogger/thread/94150705?hl=en

    But it says that it has been closed, and directs people to the roll-up thread. But the link which it gives for the rollup-thread is https://support.google.com/blogger/thread/94163591 - this is the same one which is now locked.

    Is there another roll-up thread that I'm not seeing?

    ReplyDelete
  10. I had this problem on Firefox, so booted up Chrome and worked the fix. But it seems to have resolved itself in Firefox today - the penci/wrench functionality is back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, how about that? But there is a looming issue related to how the blogspot.com and blogger.com sides communicate.

      Delete
    2. If they can now just trash the "loading more posts/loaded more posts" nudge-ups ...

      Delete
    3. Still missing the quick editing pencil. Do you know how to solve this ?

      Delete
    4. @Anne, I an never 100% sure what Google is up to. But based on the reports from others on this blog, and my own experience, it is pretty clear that the general issue was resolved in January, when Google reverted the change it had made back to the status quo ante. For the time being.

      Your problems therefore have other causes, probably browser settings or add-ins that block third party cookies.

      I suggest taking your issue to the Blogger help community for further troubleshooting.

      Delete
    5. @Adam. I'm sorry, in fact it's not a blogger pb, but a Firefox browser one. I tried Chrome and the tools are there. Have you any idea how I could correct that on Firefox ?

      Delete
    6. @Anne, my recommendation is to take your problem to the Blogger help community. It has a different cause than the issue I describe in my report.

      Delete
  11. At least now I know I'm not crazy. The wrench tool actually still shows on my customizer page but it doesn't work. Most frustrating to me is that I used to be able to change gadget font color and size on the customizing page, but that option is no longer available. I am not a computer programmer, just an amateur blogger and really don't want to drive myself crazy trying to use CSS code.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Marilyn, I can't help but wonder if your problem is perhaps unrelated to the above. Google has resolved the issue, at least for now, for the quick edits that appear on the blog. Your reference to the customizer page is puzzling.

      You might want to bring your problem to the help community.

      Delete