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 !