Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Another shoe drops, crippling widgets and disrupting flow

Shoes falling through the air

This week Google is removing the quick-edit tools from sidebar widgets in a way that cannot be reversed.

The removal is rolling out as I publish this report.

The only remaining option to edit these widgets uses the dumbed-down versions that are available from the Layout page of the Blogger dashboard.

The move suggests that the days of some other Blogger features that remain may be numbered.

Not everyone has access to the quick-edit tools, which remain (for now) in place for posts. These are links directly to the edit page or dialog for post or widget, visible only to the blog owner as tiny icons. Crossed wrench and screwdriver icon

(A pencil for posts, a toolkit for widgets.)

For many of us, they really helped blogging to just flow.

Unlike a similar move in January, quickly reversed, these tools are completely gone. They cannot be "unhidden" by any too-clever hacks.

And now the bad news

Unfortunately, if you want to edit or create some of these widgets from the dashboard, your options have changed. 

The dialog for the Text widget, for instance, is missing essential tools.

Before:

The old Text gadget, with formatting tools

After:

The new Text Widget, with no formatting tools

Dear Google: Some of us bloggers do not know how to code, or do not care to.

Being able to create a blog without learning HTML, CSS, Python, or JavaScript has been one of Blogger's greatest strengths since its inception in 1999.

Update: Here is a workaround for the widget problem.

With worse to come

We got warning of this in January, when Google disabled all the quick-edit tools, part of a long-term plan to move away from third-party cookies on which parts of Blogger rely.

The quick-edits returned within a week, but the cookies problem (which is real) remains.

Expect to see further impairment of Blogger's functionality.

That might include one that would break Google's promise that users own and control everything they create in the Googleverse.

Unanswered questions

  • What about third-party cookies means we can't have some basic editing tools in the Text gadget?
  • Why does this need to happen now?
  • Is this going anyplace good in the long run? Are these unpleasant changes actually stepping stones to a radically better Blogger? If not, why bother?

8 comments:

  1. Yeah, the widgets have gotten worse and worse....when they work at all. I know enough HTML to be dangerous, so I've worked around the problems on my blog Game Show Follies.

    Today, though, the popular posts widget was completely broken. Luckily, it seems to be fixed for now, but Google is really making Blogger harder and harder to use. Do they just want to get rid of the product completely?

    I could migrate to WordPress, but it would be a chore to move all the features on my blog to the new platform. So I'll hang in with Blogger and hope Google doesn't screw it up even more.

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  2. Oh no! Thanks for the heads-up. We weren't aware this was going on.

    We're 10+ years deep on the Blogger platform and really don't want to start over somewhere else.

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    1. This change has been temporarily reversed because it broke some older themes. However, I expect the removals to return, perhaps as early as next week (sans other complications).

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  3. An unrelated change: items in the profile are no longer links that show other people with the same item. Locations, too, are no longer links. No idea how long ago that happened. Probably not a bad idea to have privacy that way,

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    Replies
    1. Michael, thanks, I had missed that change.

      I do not have any information about that one, but it feels like part of the slow erosion of the original Blogger network that included Next Blog and Blogger Friend Connect.

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  4. I am convinced that Google is trying to drive people away from Blogspot so that they can shut it down.

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  5. Very frustrating, thanks for sharing.

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