E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Weblogging Directly from FireFox – Performancing for FireFox – Part Deux

After I created yesterday’s weblog post on Weblogging Directly from FireFox – Performancing for FireFox I thought it would be a good time now to take the next step and take this FireFox extension for a spin. So I have decided to create this particular weblog post using that extension and let you all know what my experience has been so far. I know that quite a few people have been weblogging about this already, but I think I am going to take a new approach to it all. So instead of just reading a review of what I think on the extension I am just going to create a weblog post where I would be detailing five features I really like from Performancing for FireFox next to another five features where I think there is some more room for improvement. Hopefully, that way I will be able to add some more into the conversation and see how people would be able to get a good idea on this extension and find out if it would help them ease the way they share information and collaborate with one another.

Thus without any further delay here you have got the five features that I have been enjoying this far:

  • Ease of Use while posting the content into the weblog: Indeed, one of my favourite features is the fact that this extension includes the best of both worlds: an WYSIWYG editor, or Rich editing tab, from where I can type and see what it looks like on the fly and if I am not happy with it or if I would want to change some of the HTML tags used then I can go into the Source Editing tab where I can make any other modifications I may need and tailor them to make them look the way I want. Pretty neat, specially if you come to consider that other weblogging tools like Qumana or w.bloggar do not seem to provide that hybrid functionality. I wonder about other weblogging tools out there I may not have been exposed to yet…
  • Ability of using Rich Text weblogging features on the fly: The fact that I can use much more complex features while composing my weblog posts is a big plus to me. Key elements from any weblog post like italics, quotes, hyperlinks, images, colour, bullets, number bullets, etc. etc. are very easy to get together and from the same single window screen, so you wouldn’t have to go anywhere else to enrich your weblogging experience. Pretty powerful, I would think. And if you are not happy with it, you know you can always change it through the Source Editing option.
  • Ability to have access to default weblog settings while working on your content: I am very glad to see that while I am composing this particular weblog post I can have access to the different weblogs I may have set up already, at the same time that I can see, and choose, the corresponding categories (Selecting multiple categories is possible, by the way), and much more impressive is the fact that through the History tab I am able to see the previous weblog posts that I may have created already plus it would also give me the chance to reedit them if I would want to. Again very powerful weblogging options, specially for those of us who are always keen on establishing connections between different posts so that there is a much more natural flow.
  • Live Preview: Pretty much like you could do with w.bloggar (Although with Qumana is a bit more complex) there is a third tab that looks pretty good so far, although it could also do with some more improvements, and that is the Live Preview, that allows you to preview the current weblog post you are creating. This is a very handy feature, specially if you would want to get the weblog post to look the exact same way you thought for it while you are busy weblogging away. This is one of my favourite features as it gives me control about how the weblog post is going to be displayed to you folks, my readers.
  • Ability to save contents of the weblog post as Notes: And, finally, one of my other favourite features from this particular Performancing for FireFox extension is the fact that you can use the option Save as Note every now and then to save the contents of your weblog post so that you prevent having to rewrite the whole thing in case something bad like a crash happens, or if you by mistake click on any of the weblog entries from the History tab.

I know that there are many more handy features from this particular extension but I think those would be the ones that so far I have found quite interesting and powerful at the same time. However, it is also true that there are some things where there is plenty of room for improvement and I thought, as indicated above, about indicating which are the areas where I would like to see some further improvements. Thus here we go:

  • Live Preview should allow to display hyperlinks as active: Although I did mention it as one of my favourite features in the above five, I think Live Preview could also improve a bit by allowing the hyperlinks to actually be active and not just display them as regular text. The main purpose of the preview is to actually see how everything looks like, and not just portions of it. So something that would need to be improved in future versions.
  • No keyboard shortcuts: I know that this may be a bit too picky but one of the things that I have always enjoyed from an application is its ability to perform different functions without having to use a mouse. So that is why I like w.bloggar and Qumana so much, because I can perform almost every single action with a keyboard shortcut and I feel that this is where Performancing for FireFox would certainly benefit from. Hopefully, we should be able to see some of that in upcoming versions.
  • Not asking to save changes is a bad thing. It has happened to me a couple of times. I have been working on a weblog post, this post actually, and I wanted to check out the History and when I single clicked on one of the weblog posts, whooops ! off it went, the current weblog post was gone and I couldn’t get it back and worst of it all was that I didn’t get prompted if I wanted to save the changes or not, in order to get the new post from the history. So if you are working on a weblog post careful with what you click because you may lose the information. That is why it would be handy to click, every now and then, on Save as Note.
  • No spellcheck: Indeed I haven’t been able to see one of the key fundamental features from any weblogging tool: a good spellcheck. If one of the recommendations for a good weblogging practice is to spell check the written text I think that this is one of the major flaws from Performancing for FireFox. I am not sure if this option would ever be included but certainly if it isn’t it could become a showstopper for me that would not allow me to make extensive use of this extension. So I am hoping that in future versions we would have a spellcheck available.
  • And, finally, one other feature that I find quite important for every single weblog and which, unfortunately, has not been included in this first release of the FireFox extension is the fact that you cannot send pingbacks and trackbacks. And I must say that at the very beginning I was very surprised not to see this option, specially as this extension is coming from the folks working over at Technorati. You would expect that since Pingbacks and Trackbacks are so important for the weblogging world that they would be included. They are, after all, what make weblogging worth while the effort from the perspective where they are the key enablers to enhance conversations out there in the Blogosphere. So where are they? Nowhere to be found ! 

Thus, there you go, the five reasons why I like the experience with Performancing for FireFox and another five items where I feel that there is some room for improvement. Overall, I have enjoyed the experience of posting this weblog using this extension, but then again I think it would also be fair to compare it with the weblogging component from Flock. So in a future weblog post I will also be providing a quick review of the features I like the most, and the ones I feel need to be improved, from Flock, so that folks can have a good overview of what are the options and where we are going with that integration of the web browser and weblogging. Stay tuned !

Technorati Tags : Performancing, Qumana, FireFox, w.bloggar

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  1. Thanks, Lloyd, for the headsup. I have added some extensive commentary in your blog post. Have a look and see what you would think. I have now installed the latest build and my next weblog post would probably be directly from Flock. I am looking forward to it so let’s see how it goes.

  2. Thanks, Luis for these comprehensive reviews .. very useful, and you are doing half our work for us (just kidding) .. but the points you have been making will come up at our year – end product planning meeting next week. Some of these points / funtionalities we have had either under consideration or on the drawing board here at Qumana for a little while … as always in this area of endeavour, time and resources … but better, simpler and more powerful are our design principles.

  3. Hello Jon and welcome to elsua ! Thanks very much for dropping by and for sharing your thoughts. I am glad to see you guys are looking into different options to try to make the weblogging experience much more meaningful and easier to use. I shall certainly be looking forward to further developments and just a few hours ago Lloyd confirmed how I could get my hands on the latest working build for the weblogging component of Flock. So I am hoping to be able to take it for a spin and then share my thoughts on it. Stay tuned !

  4. Luis,

    Awesome, I really appreciate your post. Unlike most people who have blogged about Performancing, yours is perfect as it’s a great balance of what you find works and what doesn’t.

    Feedback like this rocks, and makes my life much easier 😉 so thanks once again.

    I’m going to try and answer your 5 points:

    1)Live preview: Yes, this is definitely something I need to work on.

    2)Keyboard Shortcuts: It does have some, all your standard formating short-cuts (ctrl-b -> bold, etc.) and ctl-s for saving as a note… I have a full list here, which will hopefully grow as the editor matures.

    3)Saving content: Agreed. I hate popups that always ask if you want to save your content, but I do agree that in many cases it is needed, as I’ve heard lots of complaints that people have lost data.. which sucks.

    4)Spell-check. Right now the dev version of Spellbound plays really nice with us, you might want to give it a run. Inline spell-checking is awesome. Maybe in the future we could bundle the functionality. I believe Firefox 2.0 will have it built in…but that’s another story..

    5)Agreed. I too want trackback and ping support.

    Once again, thanks, I know it takes time to try out programs, and even more to write about them, so I really appreciate you doing that, and am glad I found your blog.. I’m adding it to my bloglines now 😉


  5. Hello Jed and welcome to elsua! Thanks ever so much for the extensive feedback comments and for dropping by. This is really good stuff ! I am not sure what actually happened with the keyboard shortcuts but when I first tried to make use of them they would not work. They would be more part of the actual web browser. However, after I have read some more thanks to the link you have posted, it looks like I am back on track because I can now indeed get access to those keyboard shortcuts.

    I will surely look forward to seeing that list increase as I feel that there are a number of different actions that we, webloggers, get to make use on a regular basis and having a keyboard shortcut for them would be terrific ! Please add some more as time goes by.

    Thanks for commenting on item 3) I have actually learned how to handle it now, which is basically, staying away from everything else, but I would think that a quick pop up message to prompt for saving the changes or not would not harm anyone. At least, that would be one of those popups that I could well put up with.

    Regarding the spell check, I have already got Spellbound installed and it is playing really nice with Performancing for FireFox, indeed. So I will start making use of it as time goes by. Thanks for the tip !

    And, finally, thanks again for the additional support on trackback and pingbacks ! I shall be looking forward for some further updates on this whenever they may be ready. Appreciated the support on this particular item as I feel it is one of the most important for us all webloggers, whether we are getting started with our weblog or for advanced webloggers.

    Thanks again for the feedback and for the headsup ! I shall be documenting as well as I go forward what my experience has been so far while making use of this particular superb FireFox extension. Keep up the good work and keep us posted !

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