Warning: a “First Flight” is an ongoing log of my impressions and experiences during my first and VERY first launch of a new app. You are reading exactly what I’m thinking when I’m thinking it, during my first ten or twenty minutes of hands-on experience with the thing.
I do think it’s valuable to document these things. True, true: you can’t possibly reach any conclusions about the nature of an app in the first fifteen minutes. But the joys and frustrations you experience right off the bat can be illustrative.
So: DO NOT refer to this as a review; DO NOT lambaste me for judging an app based on a quick launch; DO NOT point out that if I’d bothered to check the Help menu I’d have discovered that I could have fixed everything with a Command-Option-Shift-G.
Because the proper response to such a complaint can only me my pinching your nose tightly between my index and ring fingers and then slapping my other fist down my forearm so hard that the sound effects guy dubs an old-timey car horn sound onto the soundtrack.
You Have Been Warned.
Yes, fellow Friends of Liberty…I’m testing out another editor. Blogo is obviously a far less-ambitious app than ecto or MarsEdit, but it definitely has a certain charm:
…And man alive, the image embedding works more or less precisely the way I’d like it to. Drag a file into the image well (or use a menu), it lets me resize it and lets me establish the resized version as a link to the full-fized thingy. Click a button and it’s in there. Niiiiiice.
It might be a little too flashy for its own good. I was surprised to find that the big “Edit” button at the top there opens up a drawer containing previous blog posts, and offers a chance to edit them. In this context, “Edit” would seem to say “Edit this post you’ve got in front of you right now.”
But Blogo appears to be a sterling example of minimalist UI. The text field under the editing box is for adding category tags. “Jeez, it doesn’t give me a list of previous categoried to choose from?” I groused.
Aha! But it uses del.icio.us-style tagging. I tap y-e…and it auto-completed “Yellowtext” from my previous blog posts. Niiiiiice.
Blogo has made a fabulous first impression. It looks like it was created by someone who took too many Cocoa programming classes who then had a boozy one-nighter with someone who took too many Web 2.0 design classes.
For all that, Bloggo has the trendy feature of the day: a “full screen” editing mode that leaves you looking at a single text edit box and a six-button palette and nothin’ else:
Hmm. I don’t know how this happened, but it inserted the photo at the top of the post instead of at the insert point. Maybe it’s because I deliberately used the “Place Image…” command from the “Post” menu instead of using the image well.
Let’s try it again. Same menu:
Yup, that’s a definite bug. But the good news is that they’re letting the OS do the heavy lifting. That photo was originally a .DNG file; I assume it’ll be converted to a JPEG when it’s uploaded. Let’s cross our fingers and see.
…Of course, I had to leave full-screen mode to insert that picture. And when I did, it apparently returned me to where the insert point was before I went full-screen. Had to scroll down to where I wanted the picture to go; they need to fix that.
Let’s see how well it handles one of those YouTube things:
The fantastic news is that when you paste in the usual block of markup from YouTube, Blogo is smart enough to think “Ah! YouTube embed! Yes, my developer happens to live in a world in which these are a popular element in blog postings and so I will treat this as a special movie graphic.”
Good. But I don’t seem to be able to select it and center it. It seems to want to “float” to the left of the next paragraph. I would expect there to be a “center” command somewhere in the button palette or in the menus, but there’s none to be found.
I do find that if I grab it and move it to the center on my own, Blogo understands what I’m getting at. That’s very smart behavior (why doesn’t every app understand this?) but still, wish there were an explicit “center this sumbitch” command.
For that matter…how do I center text?
Can I just grab this graf and move it to the center? Let’s try that.
Nnnnope. This appears to be an app that hates centered text with a passion.
Also an app that doesn’t understand blockquotes or custom styles. Pity, that. What version is this? 188.8.131.52. Okay, hopefully there’s more stuff coming.
All in all, a great first impression. Blogo (which also needs another “g” in the name, incidentally) seems to get all of the compulsories right. It does need to acquire a few basic features.
(Seriously, dude: no centering?)
And oddly enough, if the right UI designer were to take this exact same window and this exact same collection of buttons, and just slid them around into a different configuration — and made the buttons prettier, & junk — it’d be one of those simple things that makes the app stronger.
There also appear to be a handful of subtle bugs. It keeps adding a bare line under a certain image in this post. And even though the YouTube video appears to be centered here in the editing window, it’s right-justified in the preview.
Oh, did I not mention the preview mode? It previews the blog post as it will appear in your current blog template. Viz:
Of course, the ideal is probably for a blogging app to be so reliable that you’d never need to preview something before posting. But it’s a nice feature anyway.
I’m adding Blogo to the rotation of blogging tools. I think the most effective way to determine a winner is to keep all three (four…five) in the Dock and find out which one I gravitate to.
Manually edited to comment about how well the posting landed on the blog:
Hmm. Give it a C instead of an “A.” Blogo did not, convert the .DNG image. In fact, the presence of that image caused Blogo to fail to post this at all. Seems like it’d be a simple thing for Blogo to check on its own; wonder why it doesn’t?
Secondly, it didn’t actually center anything properly. Bad, bad, bad. It looked OK in the preview but the preview didn’t match reality…thus rendering the whole preview mode less than useful.
And dangit, when you click on the pictures it just opens the same 400-pixel wide image in a new window. I thought the UI made it clear that these things would be linked to full-sized images. So it’s either a UI failure or it’s an application failure.
Finally, the code it generated is a bloody mess. It might parse fine, but I think these apps should generate clean code that’s easy for a human to read and edit if need be.
Heartbreaking. My enthusiasm for Blogo has dropped way down. If you click “Post” and part of you is certain that you’re going to have to go back in and fix something…that sort of removes Blogo from consideration as a “real” day-to-day blogging tool. Hopefully it’s a simple case of 1.0-itis that’ll be fixed as the app matures.