August 18, 2006

Blogger Beta - Easter eggs!

Based on some new features that I have noticed after migration and others' posts about Blogger Beta, I get the feeling that folks at Blogger have been closely following the pain points of bloggers and the solutions offered by the hackers so far. Apart from the "most complained about" lack of categories, comment feeds etc, they have also noticed other shortcomings in Blogger and silently provided 'Easter egg'-like solutions.

One of the Easter eggs that I have noticed is the links at the bottom of post pages named "Newer post" and "Older post". Yes, Blogger Beta has better navigation within the blog. Not many seem to have noticed this because Blogger folks have not talked about this in their intro post for Beta. Greg had already developed a hack for this called Blog Navigator which is being used in this post of Freshblog, for example (left and right arrows next to title). Did somebody at Mountain view notice it?


















Another easter egg that has been discovered recently by Phydeaux3 is that when you search for something in a Beta blog's navbar, the results show up in the same blog instead of a Google page. Posts that match the search term are showing up in the main column itself. Just try searching for something in my navbar and you will see what I am talking about. Aditya's Ajax brainchild (Native Blog search) was the one that enabled many to search within blog so far. Somebody at Blogger did like the idea, looks like. But, their solution is a bit unintuitive in my opinion. If you search for a term that doesn't match any post, there is no explanatory message and the main column just goes empty.

By the way, did you see the date of this post? I rode a time machine and posted it from 3006 :0) As you see in the image below, Blogger Beta provides some options while creating a new post such as using your own date/time, allowing/disallowing comments/backlinks for the post. Silently.



















All that is fine. But, after having derived some ideas from the hacker community, they seem to have closed all doors for any hack in Beta!
1. Old Blogger tags don't seem to work in Beta. I have confirmed this in this blog.
2. Greg and Phydeaux3 have reported that the dynamic page generation doesn't work if any parameter is added to the post URL. This seems to have broken the hacks for categories.
3. To top it all, they are teasing us by not opening up the html editing in Beta. Well, they have promised to open it up "in a few days" but how can a hacker use something without being able to lay his hands in the code?! Quite difficult.

Some people call Blogger Beta as "Blogger for idiots", "Blogger for dummies" etc. But I think we should not deride Blogger's honest efforts to make it easily usable by not so computer-savvy people (not necessarily idiots). While I understand the difficulty of having our hands tied because of this, let's hope that the curtain will raise soon and we will be able to play our parts in the new show.

9 comments:

Aditya said...

Hehe! Actually I noticed these Venkataramani, but thought them to be too trivial to be posted and brought attention to.

Quiet pleasantries, I'll say! :) But good you listed them out :)

phydeaux3 said...

And funny enough I was just looking at these same things. :-)

In addition to what you mention of the Next/Prev type setup on permalink pages, there is a pseudo 'page' structure also, based off the search.

Meaning if you have 5 posts on the main page, at the bottom of the main is a link for OLDER posts, which will take you to the next 5 posts, then the next 5, and so one.

And those links seem to be based off parameters through the search.

Kinda cool anyway, people have wanted these things for quite awhile.

And NOTHING is too trivial Aditya, we're grasping at straws until they open up the layout editor. :-)

Ramani said...

//And NOTHING is too trivial Aditya, we're grasping at straws until they open up the layout editor. :-)//

Exactly. Can't work on new hacks based on Old Blogger. Not able to cook up anything for New Blogger. Btw, I am also trying to post something that is not a hack announcement so that I get some non-hacker readers :)

Aditya said...

@Phydeaux3: Ah! Yes, my bad! I see they've created one basic function, and getting everything out of it using different arguments. Very clever I must say ... very clever indeed!

@V'ramani: Have you tried having post titles instead of 'Newer Post'/'Older Post' at the bottom of your page?

Ramani said...

@Aditya - Nope. I have migrated to Layout manager and so I am waiting for html editing to be opened up. But that's probably a good idea for a hack.

phydeaux3 said...

Another thing on the Search Results from the navbar.

I agree that it's very non-intuitive, but there is suggestions of modability/hackability.

I didn't notice at first, but when using the LAYOUTS templates if you search from the navbar, the DOCUMENT title changes to BLOGNAME: Search results for SEARCHTERM.

I made my first Layout Beta hack to print that out in the main column on my test blog. Of course it will be much more desireable to see if that's configurable through better means. At least there is hope.

Now when they just open up the layout editor we can get crackin'. :-) I hope it's sometime this week.

Ramani said...

That's cool, Kirk.

But you don't seem to have written about your hack. Yes, there's some scope of hacks in that area.

Aditya said...

Hey! I was just going through my comment history and I came by this discussion ... I saw my question regarding the 'Old Post' could be replaced with the title of the older post.

As it turns out, it can't. However, I think I can cook up a hack to do this, which I think I will once my exams get over! :P (That's another 5 days!)

Just wanted to let you know! :)

Ramani said...

Aditya,

Yes, that could be a good hack. By the way, you should check out my hacks as well.