Is it my imagination, or is it Apple doesn't get this whole "Blog" thing? 1.12.2006

Apple's iWeb application is out. And quite honestly, as a blog tool, it was clearly written by people who don't get blogging. Rarely do I see Apple screw something up, but in this case, Apple's iWeb product, as a blog tool, is the biggest piece of crap I've ever seen. It's almost as if the developers at Apple thought "hey, I heard this blog thing has become really cool; let's go out and create a blog tool, whatever that is, and we'll capture even more market share."


Okay, here's what is wrong with iWeb.

(1) You cannot create a new template or customize the existing templates. Normally for producing one-off web pages, this shouldn't be a problem. But if you are creating a blog, the idea is that you just want to type some stuff and have the text poured into a template.

But on iWeb, you create a new "blog entry", and you get a brand new copy of the original template you choose for your web site. Which inevitably includes a picture of some guy snowboarding or surfing which has to be deleted or replaced, and you then need to rearrange the text elements of your document to fill the huge void that is left. So every post you make, you wind up doing a whole bunch of house cleaning first.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

(2) Most blog posts contain the following textual elements: <blockquote> or quoting from another source, some way of putting in a hypertext link, and the occassional inserted bit of multimedia. Apple has got the multimedia stuff right; you can drag and drop the layout of your text file any way you want.

But editing the textual elements? Apple took the "Word to HTML" approach of allowing you full control of the layout, which seems cool--until you realize that you cannot insert quoted text easily. On Blogger, I set up a style sheet which automatically offsets quoted text, but on Apple's offering, I'd have to format the text by hand each and every time.

I'd think someone like Apple, who has put a lot of thought into user interface design, would have simplified the ideas of "add generic text", "quote someone", and "bold" and "italic" so it would have been trivial to lay out a pretty blog page template, then start entering text. Ideally there would even be a way to create multiple blog entry templates; that way I could create three or four blog templates to pour my text into that suggest the mood of the post (like "angry") or the type of post (like "geeky.")

Fundamentally blogging is a text exercise--but Apple thinks every time I write a post I should scrounge up a new picture and add it to the top of my image.

(3) The summary page which shows a summary of my posts does not provide me any control over where it truncates my text. Which is really stupid. Worse, it seems to truncate at a word boundary at some number of characters, like 512--which means you often get truncation in the middle of a sentence. I can't believe Apple wouldn't have provided a simple "truncate here" symbol instead of guessing--and guessing wrong.

(4) One of the dumber things in iWeb is it's mechanism for cropping images. I like the fact that I can just pick a picture in iPhoto and include it in iWeb. I can even crop the image. But the image's resolution doesn't appear to be reduced very much at all. Right now I wind up using Adobe ImageReady to reduce the size of the file; the file that gets uploaded by iWeb is *huge*. And slow to download.

I'm sure there are more; it's late and I'm tired. I'm sure there are more problems with iWeb. But the basic underlying problem is that the folks who released this thought a "blog" entry is a full web page editor with text summary powers. A blog s not a full page editor.

What makes a blog powerful is that a blog is text: it's a "web log", and a "log" is just text. Granted it's nice when the web log is then poured into some interesting templates, and it's even nicer when there is the ability to insert multimedia into the middle of your text to accent your text.

But blogging is all about text.

And on this point Apple completely fucked up.

posted by William Woody at 1:34 AM

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