Saturday, February 13, 2021

New and Improved? Unsung Features of The New Blogger

Statue of Justitia, goddess of justice, holding sword and scales
Let's be fair.
Blogger is hard to use, and it is not your fault.

Google could have done so much better when it revisited the "back end" of Blogger—the tools we bloggers use to create blogs and posts.

I've been critical (and, I hope, helpful) on this blog. 

But to be fair, I'd like to put the criticism aside and remind everyone of things that are new and improved. Of benefits from the change.

First and foremost: Blogger did not shut down. On August 14, a Google employee named Marc Ridey told us

The legacy interface runs on very old technical infrastructure that is about to be turned off.... This isn’t a decision the Blogger team made, nor one we can reverse; hence, soon the legacy interface will go away.
This is such a big deal that, paradoxically, it probably shouldn't count. Nonetheless, we are able to keep publishing blog posts today after a big transition behind the scenes.

Second, the new interface is responsive, which means you can blog from your phone. 

It will be interesting to see if anyone does this, and what those blogs are like. But yeah, new feature.

Aside from that, it's not a terribly impressive list. But it's not nothing either.

Count Your Blessings?

One of the changes I appreciate the most is the smallest. 

The active portion of the posts page on the dashboard—the place where all your posts are listed, available to view or edit—is closer to the optimal width and thus easier view and to use. It had been too wide.

There is a raft of new search options on the posts page. These can help manage the new infinite scroll.

Blogger stats is redesigned, and links to Google's webmaster tools.

Preview now gives the option of seeing how the post will look on phones and other devices.

Publish summons a dialog asking if you are sure you want to do that (publish).

Most of the other additions are on the toolbar for the post editor (and page editor).

The new "Add Fonts" command on the fonts menu will give you access to 999 webfonts. 

Don't use them all! It will look terrible and slow down your blog, since the fonts you add are loaded for each page whether you use them there or not.

It is also now possible to apply the right-to-left and left-to-right attributes to different blocks of text in a post. 

This barely qualifies, since the tools existed before, but what is new is that you no longer need to set your blog to a right-to-left language in order to see them. 

"Input Tools" gives you a new way to insert non-Latin characters (Ø) and diacritical märks, this time based on language. ¡Olé! 

You can still find these characters in other ways, including the "Insert special characters" tool. Included in Input, meanwhile, is the option to locate your character by drawing it.

The link tool now lets you specify nofollow and target attributes without editing HTML. (Target lets you tell browsers to open the link in a different window or tab.) 

On HTML toolbar, the "format HTML tool" is both new and extra handy given the other changes to HTML mode. 

Also in HTML is a super powerful search and replace function that accepts regular expressions (but does not require them). (Regular expressions are like wildcard searches on steroids.).

The media upload tools, though buggy, have been streamlined in good ways. (I don't think anyone will miss the option of inserting an image from their webcam.) 

Remembrance of Things Past

I am almost certainly missing some changes. There's no way to check the legacy interface to see how it used to be. I'm sure I've forgotten something.

So if there is something else to be grateful for, don't be shy! Remind us of them in the comments. Goodness knows we can use all the positive news we can get.


  1. I think you’ve done a better job than you-know-who at pointing out these helpful features. I discovered search and replace a few days ago — it makes fixing HTML for images much easier. I didn’t notice the input tools or the smiley face for special characters (probably because they’re only available from Compose view). And yes, it’s much easier to write or make a correction from a phone (though I still would choose Byword for writing).

    I don’t know what to make of stats: mine show many visits yesterday to a post I wrote this afternoon.

    1. Michael, I don't know what's up with Stats. Maybe it depends on how Google defines "today"?

  2. Now the stats have a slick design but the data are meaningless.

    For example, most of the times it's not clear where the bulk of the traffic comes from. As I write this, the Top Referrers section lists 8 sites accounting for 23 views of my blog over the past 24 hours. And 223 views, an order of magnitude more, lumped under "Other". Not exactly insightful.

    1. Paulo, I admit I've never paid much attention to Stats, so am not the best source of either praise or critique. My assumption has always been that the place to go for real information is the webmaster-analytics side of things.

      The metric that I value most is comments, so I am personally gratified when I see them!

  3. I do some posts from my phone, and while the new interface is nice, I need to switch to desktop view to insert a photo, which is funny since blogging about a just-taken photo is one of the major advantages of about blogging from the phone!

    Another big improvement is the dashboard Post search tool, which lets you search for combinations of words, phrases and labels, is no longer limited to just the last 500 posts and applies logic eg Apples AND "Cox Orange".

    1. Mary, thanks. It is curious to me to hear that you can't add photos into Blogger from your phone.

      I supposed that would be straightforward if the images are in Google Photos, probably impossible otherwise. Is that not the case?

  4. Regarding the back end of Blogger, I still remember the first time I read the Spring Cleaning post (2018) on the Blogger official blog:

    "We’ve been doing some serious tinkering under the hood of Blogger! We finished a multiple-year migration of all blogs to Spanner, a new storage system. For more information on Spanner, check out the Google Cloud Spanner site here (link to Cloud Spanner site)."

    then I visited the Google Cloud Spanner site and sure it looked amazing.

    1. It does feel as though this promise has largely gone unmet to date.