June 27, 2006

Major update

Sidebar Preview

A new version of BlogBuilder has been released today with some small fixes, and two large new features:

Customisable Sidebars

Something which we've been working on for a while, and that some people have asked for, is the ability to customise the aspects of the sidebar on your blog. By going to the "Admin" area of your blog and then clicking on "Sidebar", you can now re–order, remove and add sidebar items to your blog.

There are two ways to add sidebar items to your blog: either from a remote feed (RSS or Atom), or from a plain text (Textile or HTML). We've also implemented a number of wizards that can help you to add your Flickr photos, del.icio.us links or a feed from Warwick Podcasts directly to your sidebar easily.

At the moment, when you display sidebar items, they can either be an image feed, a podcast feed or a normal text feed. If there are any other types that you'd wish us to implement, let us know.

For more information on what you can do with your sidebar, you can read the Frequently Asked Questions.

In–page Comments

The popup comments windows have now been replaced with an Ajax drop–down that opens when the link is clicked and can be closed again. When you access comments from one of these windows, you can also post comments without leaving the current browser page.

Other Minor Fixes

There have been a couple of other minor fixes, specifically with Chinese characters being previewed in entries and some minor CSS fixes, as well as fixes with the help popups and gallery captions

If you have any problems with the fixes, or any features in BlogBuilder, as always you can report it by commenting on this entry or by posting on the Blog Feedback forum.

- 25 comments by 5 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. ooooh – nice shiny updates!

    And thanks for making Warwick Podcasts a popular feed! Made my day any way.

    27 Jun 2006, 10:49

  2. Nice. I especially like the RSS feeds from the BBC.

    27 Jun 2006, 10:55

  3. Eleanor Lovell

    Very nice…

    ….however – the podcast feed feature does not fit in the sidebar – the titles overlap the icons. I blame the length of Tom's titles but not sure if this is the reason?

    27 Jun 2006, 10:58

  4. Mathew Mannion

    Hi Eleanor, can you give a bit more information? I have a feeling it may be a particular blog–theme/browser combination (i.e. some of the more intensive ones and IE6…). You might have better luck if you turn the "More…" link off (although not sure).

    Warwick Podcast feeds have worked fine on both IE and Firefox throughout testing for me :)

    27 Jun 2006, 11:01

  5. Eleanor Lovell

    Hi Mat,

    It's happening on the University Medialog – it works on Firefox but not on IE…

    The appearance of the blog is the standard Warwick one – and I have tried removing the 'more' link which doesn't fix it…

    27 Jun 2006, 11:07

  6. Mathew Mannion

    I blame Internet Explorer (and my shoddy coding, but mainly Internet Explorer).

    Will get that fixed for the next release – thanks.

    27 Jun 2006, 11:09

  7. Eleanor Lovell

    No worries – it's still great : )

    27 Jun 2006, 11:12

  8. Steve Rumsby

    I notice that there's a light horizontal strip immediately above the "Most recent entries" section, where–ever in the sidebar I put it. Is that deliberate? It happens in both IE and Firefox.

    27 Jun 2006, 11:47

  9. Mathew Mannion

    Steve: It was like that in the old design, so I can only imagine it's a CSS bug that's persisted â I'm not sure whether it's deliberate or not to be honest :)

    To fix it, put this in your Custom CSS box (Admin –> Appearance):

    #mostrecententries {
    margin-top: 0px;

    27 Jun 2006, 12:04

  10. Okay that was really confusing! Had my GMonkey script still active so it duplicated the post when I clicked the comment :s I like it though! Very scriptaculous :D

    27 Jun 2006, 13:29

  11. Mathew Mannion

    Just so you guys know:

    the podcast feed feature does not fit in the sidebar

    This has been fixed now (along with a few other minor bugs).

    Thanks for the feedback! :)

    27 Jun 2006, 14:02

  12. I'm still not convinced that ajaxy comments are a good thing, there are quite a few usability issues and i'm not sure the pros outweigh the cons. There are lots of places where ajax can be useful but I don't think this was one of them.

    Everything else is nice though.

    27 Jun 2006, 14:09

  13. Mathew Mannion

    Just out of interest Andy, are there any specific usability problems (cons) that you have in mind?

    27 Jun 2006, 14:13

  14. Matthew Jones

    Accessebility seems fine as far as the comments go. If you disable all the CSS you can still use the comments link to post a comment, although the Close comment link doesn't work, but no loss there.

    27 Jun 2006, 15:30

  15. Matthew Jones

    Although I can't spell it…

    27 Jun 2006, 15:31

  16. Mathew Mannion

    If you turn Javascript off, the Comments link just goes to the entry itself, so it's not like that's a great issue either…

    27 Jun 2006, 15:36

  17. Looking at your blog, Mat, I'm reminded of a recurring problem with é á í ó ý ú è à ì ò ù ë ö ä ï ü

    27 Jun 2006, 16:56

  18. Which apparently isn't a problem in comments, but I've had the problem with entry titles.

    27 Jun 2006, 16:56

  19. Mathew Mannion

    You mean in my Last.FM chart? That's Last.FM's fault, not ours. And I've never had a problem with accents, umlauts or anything of the sort in entry titles… Could you elaborate a little?

    27 Jun 2006, 16:59

  20. Hmm… is there any chance a bug has been fixed recently with these letters? I tried to name my Kooks entry So Naïve (me being naive) but the ï came out as Ã_ or something weird. It doesn't do it now though… Never mind!

    27 Jun 2006, 19:37

  21. What are the actual benefits?
    – Fetching the comments without reloading. Maybe. but I honestly prefer either going to the entry itself or having a popup – which is odd, since i'm not a big fan of popups.
    – It's cool? It's a nice cool idea, but the more i've used it the more it feels like an excuse to use ajax rather than a real feature
    What are the drawbacks?
    – Clicking to open the comments can lead to a VERY big amounts of content suddenly being added to the page, and you can't stop it once it's started – unlike a popup window which you can just close
    – The comments get put in the middle of the page, between entries. This looks messy and makes it much harder to find what you want – especially if you have lots of comment things open.
    – If you accidentally press the "close comments" link, you lose anything you've typed. This is expected with popups because you're closing the window with all the stuff you've typed, but the action within an actual page is intuitively a metaphor for show/hide rather than create/delete
    – Loss of a method that arguably worked better – I rather liked being able to just have a bunch of popup windows to read through at my leisure once i'd finished skimming through the recent entries page (as opposed to having to read all the comments on the same page)
    – It makes the blogs feel like they're moving towards being a massive blog machine rather than a collection of individuals, not a technical issue but still something that bothers me

    Ajax updating of comments on the comments view themselves is good, but the overally ajaxy–massive–addition–of–content–to–the–dom doesn't really seem like a great idea.

    You have to be REALLY careful about using ajax, it's ok for Max Dymond doing it for himself, he likes it that way. Dynamic addition of content is a really dodgy area of usability/accessibility and for now it's better to use it only where it's guaranteed to be an enhancement.

    28 Jun 2006, 01:35

  22. Can I suggest that the "Add a Comment" is a further drop–down bit rather than part of the actual comments? Don't know why, but I think it'd look neater.

    28 Jun 2006, 10:28

  23. It's probably just IE but ...

    29 Jun 2006, 08:16

  24. More issues. In the sidebar management page, it's not good that things are updated automatically, there should be an "apply changes" button. Having to perform a server request for every single reorder or checkbox toggle is kind of pointless, surely it'd be much better to allow users to make all their changes before submitting anything for preview? Less Ajax. Please.

    29 Jun 2006, 13:29

  25. A Guest

    I quite like to comments thing, but as I only ever read the 'showall' pages, it would be better if the new–comment bit didn't appear immediately.
    Also, would having skip–links on the showall pages be possible? I normally want to skip past the long survey–things, and having a #–link to take me to the start of the next entry would be great.

    30 Jun 2006, 18:32

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