« Fresh new design for TypePad Hacks and more! | Main | Emoticons for TypePad Blogs »

John T. Unger

New TypePad Compose Window

John T. Unger May 21, 2008

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

An example of what I'm talking about is a recent eCommerce project I built for my friend and client Debra Condren. Debra doesn't understand code at all… but she wanted to be able to easily post CDs and MP3s for sale. So we created a separate blog and edited the text that links to the extended entry to say Click here to purchase "title" ». Now all she has to do is title each post the same as the product, write a description in the Post Introduction field and then paste the shopping cart code into the HTML tab for the Extended Post. It separates the words and code so that it is harder for her to make a mistake when pasting in the button code. Plus, I felt that it was a nice, understated but obvious way to do a store… you read through the descriptions and if you want to buy, you just click through. If not, you don't have to look at all the buy now buttons or wait for the Javascript that loads them to run.

So, I kind wish we still had both fields for composing a post. But other than that, this is a great update.

More Like This: Changes + Updates , News , TypePad

Tags: , ,

Comments

Michigosh says:

Say it ain't so on that "extended entry" field elimination! It's potentially going to give several of my blogs serious trouble & completely ruin their designs!! Because on my photography blog (& a couple other sites I've created), I've hacked the templates to use that field for the captions that appear beneath the photos. The image code is pasted into the "post intro" field, the caption into the "extended entry" field. It has worked well as a way to separate photo & caption, which makes it much easier for my clients to avoid screwing with the image code. And also solves the centering-the-photo issue (done solely with the CSS).
Do you know if this change is going to be made across-the-board, on all Advanced Templates too?

CS says:

Hi, my blog has completely been busted as of 6pm tonight. You can see it here:

http://autisticnation.typepad.com/thinking_in_metaphors/

It was a work of art in my mind and now I can't do anything with it. I can't even change the theme. Any suggestions? I've worked through Typepad's entire knowledge base to try and fix it.

john t unger says:

98% of the time that this happens, it's because you have an html error in your sidebar, usually an unclosed tag. Try looking through you typelists and sidebar template.

cs says:

Thanks John for the quick turn around. I tried removing all of the sidebars by deselecting them in content ordering and then republished. This didn't help. Do I have to erase all of the type lists and start over? I have no idea what an unclosed tag is.

john t unger says:

CS,

HTML tags define headings, paragraphs, line breaks and other page elements. You can learn about them here or find a complete list here. Tags are used in pairs, such as <p></p>. When the second tag is missing, it often breaks the page.

Chris says:

Like Michigosh, I have also hacked the extended entry field on many of the blogs I've created. I haven't got the new compose screen yet, but are you saying the field has gone completely? I'm going to be pretty annoyed if it is. I've already had to do a total redesign a couple of years ago when TypePad changed the way the lastn function worked (unannounced...), as it broke my site.

This time I won't bother redesigning, I'll just cancel the account and move. I'll be sad to to do this as I've had a TypePad account for more than four years and have been able to create some amazing things with it. But I'm fed up with all these new "features" that provide TypePad basic subscribers with improvements at the cost of Pro subscribers who pay a lot more for the flexibility. I'm sure it makes business sense for Six Apart, but it makes no sense to me.

I hope I'm jumping the gun here and I'll find in a few weeks that this won't break my portfolio site, photography site, mountain climbing log, my old weblog. But if it does, I'm off.

Michigosh says:

Chris: I too have been Pro subscriber for over 4 yrs., specifically & solely because of the Advanced Template functionality/flexibility. And I also experienced broken sites when they changed the "lastn" function. With no warning. It was not pretty. I understood why they made that particular change, but still...would've been nice if it could've been selectively enforced for Basic subscribers only. I am hoping that will be the case this time around....

I'm going to open a support ticket to find out whether or not the field's being completely eliminated and/or if the MT tags (<$MTEntryMore$>) will be retained. It seems to me if the tags retain their functionality, then perhaps my templates may still work? Despite any changes in the Compose window itself. Also, since the pagination upgrade from 6+ mos. ago still has not appeared in any of my accounts, perhaps this one won't either? I hope? Will post the response from SA here as soon as I get it.

Prospero's kitchen says:

I've got the "new" messed up typepad compose and I cannot do anything unless I use HTML to type in my text. And when I upload there is absolutely no formatting. I didn't ask for this change in beta format and I don't want it. I'm embarrased at the way my blog looks and apparently I'm not getting any answers to my tickets for help.

Chris says:

I'll await that with interest, Michigosh. I can't quite believe that TypePad would just take away a field completely, I mean that seems such an utterly ridiculous thing to do.

But looking back, I can think of three other instances (including the lastn change) where TypePad's changes or "improvements" forced me to redesign, or at least go back through every previous post and reformat. So you never know.

Michigosh says:

TP just replied to my extended entry query as follows:
"Please rest assured that the Extended Post functionality is not being removed - only the interface for setting the extended extry [sic] text will be different.

"If you're interested in seeing the new features (we're rolling them out in stages, so you won't see them in your application yet) we have a Knowledge Base article which includes a screencast that illustrates some of the changes and additions that were made. http://kb.typepad.com/id/1267

The screencast shows a single input window with a number of buttons for various features, one of which triggers the appearance of a line that differentiates extended entry from intro text, in the same window.

So, it appears this change is only a cosmetic one to the Compose Window & my alarm was unwarranted. However, since the screencast only shows the Rich Text interface, I'm following up with an additional question as to how this will work/look in the Plain Text interface. As before, will post their response asap.

Chris says:

That's good news, thanks for posting that Michigosh. I'll be interested to see how all the changes affect my blogs, though. I seem to remember that when the RTI was introduced I had to manually go through a few hundred posts removing p tags that had appeared at the beginning of each entry. I hope I don't have to do that again!

Portland Gentrication And Other Problems says:

Anyone know anything about the ultra slow typing situation? This new compose is unuseable for me. Windows 98, Firefox latest version. (yes I know I need to buy a new computer but my blog worked smoothly before they changed the compose window on me.)
email me at the blog if anyone has a word of wisdom for an illiterate blogger....

Megan Wolfe says:

Hi guys,

I found this post through Google. I, too, have a very busted compose screen that f's everything up. Safari, FireFox, and the Mac version of IE do NOT work. I was wondering what browser some of you guys are using and if it's PC only? (like PC IE) I just want to be able to update.

Honestly though, I'm really insulted. Typepad is not a free service, and to completely exclude even FireFox users, that's a huge slap in the face. :( It's also frustrating that I was not given a choice.

Michigosh says:

Chris: Here's SA's followup to my question about how the extended entry line will appear in the Plain Text version of the New Compose Window:
Thanks for your reply. The plain text feature will work much in the way that it works currently. We don't have another screencast presently, but as more users receive the new features, we will be publishing more articles and screen casts.

I sure hope that's true. But your reminder about the multiplication of p tags after the RTI was introduced gives me pause as well. Fortunately, I dealt with that issue at the time by adding some additional rules for p statements to my stylesheets, and I'll be prepared to do the same again, if necessary.

From the comments I've seen from current users, there appears to be some inconsistency & even now-you-see-it, now-you-don't behavior when toggling back & forth between RTI & HTML modes. I remember that happened for many with the first RTI intro too. IIRC, that issue gradually got resolved, over a couple or so months. I also remember many complaints about slowness back then...not to mention some outright TP crashes. Hopefully, the transition process now will prove smoother & less disruptive, overall. Hopefully.

Michael Sippey says:

Hey, everyone... First, just wanted to let everyone know that we're reading and listening to your feedback, and the team is working hard to address the bugs and issues that have been reported so far. We obviously know how important compose is to the overall blogging experience on TypePad, and appreciate all the help that users are providing in reporting issues and working with support.

A couple of quick notes to respond to some points...

@Michgosh and @Chris -- as the support folks have replied, the Extended Entry splitter will work in both the Rich Text mode as well as the plain text mode, and we'll get another screencast up around how the plaintext / Markdown functionality works in the new editor.

@Megan Wolfe -- if you haven't seen it yet we have a great new page in the Knowledge Base that outlines the supported browsers for the new compose. Firefox 2.0 is supported on Windows and Mac; if you're having issues with FF 2.0 then we'd love to hear about them. Since Firefox 3.0 is still in beta we don't support that yet, but we're working on that. Here's a link to the KB article:
http://support.typepad.com/cgi-bin/typepad.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=171

@Portland -- we definitely know about the sluggishness issue, and we're working hard to address that. We're also working hard to resolve some of the formatting trouble that some users are having.

As we roll out bug fixes and enhancements we'll update the Everything TypePad blog (http://everything.typepad.com). Krissy outlined some of the latest changes in a recent post (http://everything.typepad.com/blog/2008/05/follow-up-to-th.html) and as always if you have specific issues, please file a help ticket with support!

Megan Wolfe says:

Kudos for the response, Michael. I'll check it out. :) Also appreciate you guys monitoring the Twitter feeds, and reaching out to us users promptly. Web 2.0 is awesome for that ability.

Michael Sippey says:

@Megan -- you bet!

David Streitfeld says:

Can I add to the general disgruntlement? As soon as the upgrade went through, all of my posts lost all formatting in the compose window. Clearly this was a conversion bug. i filled out a ticket, explained the problem, but the occasional response from support was along the lines of, You're having a problem? Huh? Why would we care? I tried to post a comment about the problem on the Typepad conversion blog, but it never appeared --I guess Typepad only wants happy talk there about how great everything is. But clearly a lot of other people are having the same problem. Since I'm not too technical myself, I had a friend, a sometime Google engineer, try to figure out what was wrong. His conclusion: Typepad has a problem with the line break handling. He advised me to switch to Wordpress, which I've started to do.

Andrew says:

It's a disaster for me too. My formatting is screwed.

Please change it back!

Andrew

David Streitfeld says:

Also, on a more basic level, has the Search key been moved or -- worse -- eliminated? It seems to have disappeared. The Knowledge Base says it exists, but I can no longer search my own posts ....

KathyF says:

Ah, I see I'm not the only one. Except my problems seem to be getting worse, not better. Safari, which didn't work in the old version, now works faster than Firefox. But, when I try cut and pasting from a Word doc or from a website, my formatting doesn't work. Selecting text and changing it doesn't work either. No solution but to retype.

Posting photos is a nightmare. No matter what I do it doesn't seem to remember the new default settings I try to set.

Now I can't make text bold, without going into Markup mode.

Even the simple--before--task of switching between HTML and rich text mode involves more steps.

Comments to the Everything TypePad blog are read, but not posted. Got an email from Krissy, after I complained on my blog, but still no fix.

Please, somebody, figure out how to restore my old TypePad!

Portland Gentrification says:

"We're working on it" is the response I'm getting from opening their "help ticket" thingy and nothing is changing at all. I'd like to know an address or phone number to actually complain to. This isn't a help issue for me, it's more like, what am I getting for my $50 a year? 3 months and then a useless upgrade?

An "Undo" function would help a lot too. Whatever happened to Ctrl-Z?

Velveteen Mind - Megan says:

This is a general comment so I randomly chose this post for it:

Oh my dear Lord. Where has TypePad Hacks been all my blog's life? I don't know if I'll ever close this window again. Well, before my computer crashes, that is. I need a computer hack, but that's a different story.

I Googled "horizontal menu TypePad" and found you. Everything I ever wanted to know about how to improve my blog is right here. Damn it. This is awesome.

I have been fighting switching over to WordPress forever. I love TypePad, but WP seems to have so many features that I need. Now, if I will just manually add my widgets and learn a little more code, I can switch to Advanced Templates and teach myself how to make something very similar to my dream WP blog... without ever having to leave TypePad.

Just thank you. This is awesome. Following you on twitter now (if it is ever up and running again) and devoting the next two inches of my butt width to your site.

Karen from A`Musements says:

I still see no signs of the 'new and improved' Typepad features... anyone else in the "Old Stuff" basket?! I wonder what they mean by 'mid-June' anyway... maybe I am too anxious.

Glenn Broadway says:

I've been a Pro account user for many years and I still am not seeing this new compose window, in mid October. I've emailed Typepad and they say I might get it one day. All I want to do is be able centre content in my blog posts!

The comments to this entry are closed.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c4fdf53ef00e5526d7c828834

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference New TypePad Compose Window:

typepad hacks is a typepad featured weblog typepad hacks is listed on Alltop social media

Subscribe

Email RSS Comments  
Subscribe to TypePad Hacks with email Read TypePad Hacks posts via RSS Join the conversation at TypePad Hacks via RSS (comments feed) subscriber count

Search

Socialize

Twitter Logo
    follow typepadhacks on twitter

    Read and reply to the 100 most recent comments at the TypePad Hacks Community Page


    Grazr

    Colophon

    Powered by TypePad
    Member since 03/2005

    TypePad Status

    Creative Commons License