May 21, 2008
This article reprinted from the the TypePad Hacks Weblog. The original article can be found online:
© 2008, John T Unger
One of my most frequently requested features has just been added to the Compose screen for TypePad: Text and picture justification tools. Even though it's a really simple thing, it excites me a lot because I generally like to center photos in a post and I hate doing it manually in the HTML tab when it's been available in every other text editor I use for as long as I remember. Anyway, we've got it! Yay!
There's a lot more updates for the compose screen that will also make posting to your blog easier and more productive. Read the post at Everything TypePad for the basic overview with screen shots of the new compose screen. For a more in-depth look at features, check out the new article in the Knowledge Base.
Some of the new features that I am most excited to see include:
- Header Menu: The old compose window made it possible to select a text size from a drop down menu, but it didn't use header tags to accomplish this. So if you wanted to define the size and color of subheads in your stylesheet, you could, but you had to edit the HTML to use them. This is a significant improvement.
- Remove Formatting Button: This is a nice shortcut too… especially since when you copy and paste text from other websites, the compose window usually preserves the formatting. I've often found that feature, the preserved formatting, to be incredibly useful actually… I often use it to more quickly add formatted text to a post by copying and pasting text that was formatted and then editing the text, rather than having to edit the HTML. But being able to strip out formatting quickly, without diving into the HTML makes it even more useful.
- Link Controls: The new link buttons offers two features that make life much easier: the ability to specify on an individual basis whether the link opens in a new window (or tab) and the ability to strip out a link. There have been a number of easy ways to set all links to open in a new window, but I prefer deciding that on a link by link basis… I don't think it makes sense to open links to your own blog in a new window for example. And again, you could always do this in the HTML but it's much nicer to have it automated.
- Image Controls: The new Insert Image popup provides more control over the size of the image than before, including allowing you to set the size as a percentage of the column. I'd still like to choose whether to scale the image by height or width (for a row of thumbnailed images, I find consistent height to be more important that consistent width, for instance). Perhaps the new ability to edit an insert image will make that a bit easier.
- Alt Tag Field: This is a bigger deal than some of you might be aware of… I've always used alt tags for my photos, and in the past they had to be hand-coded into the HTML of a post, which was a real pain (I generally use Dreamweaver or Ecto if there are very many images in the post). Over the last couple years, I've found that alt tags were one of the better SEO elements on my blogs… I get a great deal of traffic from Google image search that would not find me if I didn't use alt tags for images. I'm really glad to see this implemented into an easier format in the Compose window.
Overall, it looks like the new Compose design solves a lot of problems and brings the posting interface much more up to date. I have not yet had a chance to play with the beta, but I'm quite looking forward to it.
There's just one thing that I'm not wild about: the "extended entry line" concept that replaces the Extended Post field. There were some useful aspects to having a separate window for extended posts. For one thing, every field on the compose page can be repurposed somewhat with a little clever hacking to the templates, so losing a field is a bit of a drag. But more importantly, I've found that for clients who needed to be able to paste HTML into a post but don't actually understand HTML, the separate windows made it easier for them to separate their writing and the code.
So, I kind wish we still had both fields for composing a post. But other than that, this is a great update.