25 August 2007

[bloggage] I'm Giving Up on Contribute CS3 for now (and Blogger's "Help" Group)

918. I've got to cry uncle. I'm afraid I'm going to have to give up on Adobe Contribute CS3 for now, for blogging purposes.

The ongoing argument I'm having with Contribute is just too distracting, and I'm actually sincerely sad that I can't resolve it. Here's the state of play:
  • Contribute connects to blogs just fine, no problem there.
  • It allows me to post to the ZKT without much of a hitch–the inability to upload graphics is annoying, but not a deal-breaker, because I can use Firefox to get the images in (I don't like it, but it's tolerable)
  • About three days ago, Contribute started to refuse to allow me to edit already-posted entries, complaining that I was addressing a blog I wasn't connected to–even though I connected to it and was having no problems up to that time updating entries.
  • The problem at first appears to be resolved when I suspend feed redirecting to Feedburner, but it only seems that way; recent posts that get edited refuse to commit any changes to the edited post, and there is no apparent error message. Working out RSS problems is so far outside my remit, it's a toll call.
  • Moreover, a change did take in an entry three back, but there's no apparent reason why; it's just as this one is, text with Technorati tags.
That's it. Unless some Adobe or Blogger angel notices this line of postings. If you're from Adobe, know this; I am personally utterly in love with your line of software. I adore CS; I lurves me InDesign, and nothing for me matches Photoshop for image geeking and Illustrator for digital vector drawing. It pains the hell out of me that I can't come back to this blog and write something like My bad–it was something simple and stupid and my fault or perhaps It was a simple fix I was overlooking; here's the deal...

But, alas, no.

I'm glad as heck that I'm not reviewing this for Designorati. I'd have to give it a thumbs down. Contribute CS3 is a great interface, everything at your fingertips, and allows you an almost-WSYWYG view of what you're going see, and word-processing-style formatting on the fly. I don't have to remember it's CTRL-i for italic (instead of CMD-i, which I'm conditioned to do). The image uploading workaround, I can live with. Being suddenly unable to edit posts and not having any way of working the problem out for myself, though–that I can't live with. The inability to find creditable help anywhere is just icing on top of a rather bitter cupcake.

I strongly suspect this is a problem with the blogging platform rather than the editing platform, based on my experience with Contribute before the gremlin started playing about combined with the behavior exhibited when I played around with the feed URL, or, succinctly, Contribute's being told a lie by Blogspot somehow. But it's beyond my expertise to solve, so it's back to Firefox (I'd prefer to use Safari, but it has problems with Blogger too!!!) to administer my blogs.

I have not used Contribute CS3 to administer websites, and I understand it works creditably in that mode, but I have no experience there.

As long as I'm bellyaching...Let's snark about the Blogger "Help" Group.

I'd say "don't get me started" here, except I've started myself up over my fight with Contribute and that heartbreaking user experience led directly with an attempt to get some help over at Blogger's utterly feckless "Help" Group.

Some of my fellow bloggers may have had this experience. You're trying to just do what you usually do with your Blogspot blog, and all of a sudden, a wheel comes off (I have found RSS feeds recently unreliable twice) that is outside your expertise. So, instead of a readily available feedback page and bug report (try to find it–I dare you) you usually wind up on what they call Google's Blogger Help Group.

So, you post your problem. It's a U2U forum, where other users (a forlorn hope indeed) chime in on your problem, or, hopefully, the semi-anonymous "Blogger Employee" makes a suggestion.

I've posted three or four problems and have gotten as near to zero response as makes no difference, and absolutely no response on my Contribute woes, not even a "go fly a kite" from anyone including Blogger Employee.

So, as of now, Blogger Help Group is dead to me, and I wouldn't suggest anyone in search of any real answers go there. This isn't any sort of critique of the user community there; after all, if they knew how to solve their problem, they wouldn't post it to a public forum in a vain hope that someone else in the peer group knows an answer.

I've been as patient as I can with Blogger Help Group. But life's only so long, neh?

As it happens, there is a common thread (or, my point...and I do have one)

I'm finding out a commonality here. As producers of something of value, I highly admire Blogger and Adobe; Adobe gives me mad powerful digital tools, and Blogger allows me to pontificate to the world (and slam them on their sorry help performance) for no additional charge (remember what Tom said: Free is a very good price).

But, as a consumer of services and products in a consumer society, once you get really really satisfied with a line, it's a bit of a put-off when a product from a company you've given inherent trust in fails on you. It's hardly fatal, because that's something that can be recovered from. However, if you try to use the help and support structure that is at hand and if it proves unsympathetic and unreactive to your problems, that elevates to a sort of betrayal.

I won't be dropping this blog (or Blogger/BlogSpot) anytime soon, and I'm still smitten with Adobe. But the bad taste this process has left in my mouth will take a little while to fade away, and may never completely be forgotten.

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