Usability

Feb 8, 2009 at 4:41 PM
Edited Feb 8, 2009 at 4:47 PM
First, let me commend all those involved with BE for a really stylish blog.

But I must bring up some of my annoyances concerning usability. Why is it that BE forces relative links on you and similiarly decides what code you can or cannot enter in a blog? A blog should be as customizable as possible without having to hack the source. These issues will drive beginners and even coders away. Nobody wants to spend days getting a blog customized to their needs, just to find it completely breaks with the next release. They'd rather spend that time on their theme. I'm just wondering why this behavior exists? Also, I noticed if you have too many tags or categories, the style totally falls apart. Is this handled in other themes? I haven't had a chance to look at them because I've had to wrestle with numerous other issues and now have to look at the source to try and find why I can't enter the html tags I need. Sorry, I'm not trying to be a critic here because I'm very grateful for a open source ASP.NET blog such as this. I'm just wondering why...
Feb 9, 2009 at 1:12 AM

Can you point out some specific limitations that you are running into? This project still has room for improvements and new features. If you can give some very specific examples, then i am sure the authors may look into adding those features soon. I have made some modifications to the code to fill some gaps that I thought I were lacking for my needs. You can take a look at it here.

ByteBlocks

Feb 9, 2009 at 12:13 PM
Sure. The first issue I had was because of VirtualPathUtility.ToAbsolute("~/"); and how my host handles virtual directories. Basically, to fix this issue I would have to go into the source and edit a bunch of files to make that ("/"), then recompile it so it wouldn't come up as godgets.org/godgets. There's a third party pack for GoDaddy, Modpack, but I tried that and the theme didn't come out right (reverted to plain html) and regardless, I don't like using third party hacks. So I might have considered taking the time to manually edit and recompile the source myself but then I discovered when I entered html for a blog post, a lot of tags I'd like to use wouldn't work (eg. <object>). This is a major shortcoming because one should be able to enter any html tags they want and have it still work. Also, like I said, whenever you link to something on your site it forces it to a relative link instead of absolute, which makes it difficult with the issue concerning the VirtualPathUtility method. Also, the bug relating to utcDate and how if you offset the server time the RSS feed won't work until server time catches up. Then I noticed how if you had too many tags or categories, it would mess up the layout and that's basically when I called it quits and just set my blog up at live space. I have a lot of other software I need to code and don't have time to mess with issues that shouldn't be standard behavior in BE. A blogging software should have complete end user functionality, meaning not forcing linking or any other behavior on the user, so they can worry about their theme or creating widgets. Finally, if you have to make custom hacks, you're going to have to make them every release and might even have to deal with bugs because the upgrade has again changed behavior. So ultimately I found just going with live space was a better option. You can even have your own html sections and create modules for it. Plus of course you have the benefit of community with live space. I'm not trying to rag on BE because it's a rather nice blog platform but its shortcomings just outweigh the benefits.
Feb 9, 2009 at 12:41 PM
Thanks for pointing out the issues in details. I am sure that this kind of input will help make BlogEngine to include features that are missing or are issues for community in general. I know what you are talking about issue with too many categories or tags. I am personally working on creating a new category and tag manager and new display for it. Since I publish a lot of code on my blogs and forums, I can feel the pain of restriction on the tag that you can use and can't use. I will see if I can fix this in my version of BlogEngine and try to publish the changes here. Hopefully, somebody BlogEngine will be able t catch up with likes of LIVE.

Thanks
Feb 9, 2009 at 1:03 PM
Yeah, it's really not that bad of a software and is pretty advanced for only being in existence two years. It's great for people who want to tinker with it and be able to fully customize how it operates. But for people who just want a quick blog that works and is somewhat customizable, live is the way to go. I mean the less time coders have to spend on fixing software, the more time they have to spend on augmenting it. I mean for example, I'd rather have BE unrestrictive and fully functional from the start, so I could spend more time making widgets that the community can benefit from, than having to spend several hours just to get it to work for my environment. I think BE would really benefit from some kind of patching system. That way people can submit third party patches that can be easily installed into the system. I mean I've seen a lot of customizations to it, like being able to pick your own avatar for people that don't have one with gravatar, but here you have to again edit the source manually and recompile it. Then like I said, all these alterations you make will have to be made again in the next release. A patching system of some sort would really help this process.
Feb 9, 2009 at 1:49 PM
Did you try adding "object" tag into your blog entry using raw HTML editing option. It should work. If you will use WYSIWYG editor, it is going to simply html encode that tag and render it as it is.
Feb 9, 2009 at 2:13 PM
Yes, of course. I started writing html in '97, so I'm well aware of what I'm doing. ;]

Are you running 1.45? Try entering <object> for yourself in the html editor.
Feb 9, 2009 at 7:58 PM
Try using Windows Live Writer (BE.NET supports it) to make your blog posts. It's much better than TinyMCE and there are no issues with the object tag.
Feb 9, 2009 at 9:45 PM
I actually did try with my install before I asked you about it. I worked for me thats why I asked you. I do use V1.45 with my own modifications. But my modifications are not around how content gets saved. It was not a question about if you know what you are doing :-) Some time we all overlook something. I was just asking some obvious questions.
Feb 9, 2009 at 10:40 PM
Either way, I'm happy with my live space. Saves me some bandwidth (which helps a lot with shared hosting), is pretty customizable and serves the purpose I need. Like I said, the less time I have to futz with stuff, the better!

And I'm more of a victim of textual error than GUI. I remember one time I spent a whole day trying to figure out why my BIND config wasn't working and came to discover I mistyped my domain! :P

Coordinator
Feb 10, 2009 at 12:07 AM
FWIW, you can enter the <object> tag in the Raw Html view in the latest version of BE (not 1.4.5) available on the Source Code tab above.  The most recent build is using a much more up-to-date version of the tinyMCE editor which doesn't strip out the <object> tag.  The next official release of BE, version 1.5, will of course include this newer version of tinyMce.  I think the tinyMce version in BE 1.4.5 is from January 2007!