Robert McLaws: FunWithCoding.NET

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You should feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I'm completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry, but I reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason whatsoever. That said, I will most likely only delete abusive, profane, rude, or annonymous comments, so keep it polite, please.

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VisualBlogger 2004 Beta 2 Status Report

I just spent the better part of 4 hours working on some major modifications to VisualBlogger. I heard your struggles, I felt your pain. I made configuration much simpler. Instead of using a config file for some global settings, I'm pulling from the registry. You should no longer get any errors when the application loads. The Configuration.xml file has been renamed to Blogs.config, and the default location is prespecified to be relative to the executable. Should make life TONS easier.

I've added a new system to give you feedback during the posting process. It's very simple really, after you select your blogs to post to, and click submit, you'll get a report of whether or not each blog succeeded or failed. Should help the process out a bit while I refine the multithreaded mechanism I'm working on. In the meantime, a tip for current and future builds... the toolbar buttons stay highlighted in orange while any operation is in progress. That means, if you click "Submit", and it stays orange for a minute, it's still posting to the various web services.

On the UI side, I added a few more icons in place of some of the text buttons in the UI. People said it was too hard to read the sideways text, so I put some placeholder icons in there. Some of them might stay, many will not. We'll see what happens. Also, I locked down the toolbar positions so that they cannot be changed/moved/redocked/whatever. I'm sure a few of you won't be happy with that, but oh well. I need to redesign some of the UI to be able to handle the readjustment that takes place when the toolbars get redocked. So until that happens, it's best just to disable UI customization until it works properly.

Feedback: We now remember your Name and E-mail address for the feedback form (stored in the registry). Hopefully that will coax some more people into using the online submission system for sending us bug reports and feature requests. Please keep them coming.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Someone asked me to make VB2004 minimize to the system tray, so this build does that by default. The icon is totally lame, and there aren't many right-click options, but it works. If you have any ideas for what options should be available on the right-click menu from the system tray, let me know.

I was going to put out the new beta this morning, but I am having a problem implementing a new feature I'm working on, which I will discuss in a separate post in a few minutes. At any rate, I won't be ready for a new drop until Wednesday.

We've had over 200 verifiable beta testers, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Thanks for trying it out guys... please keep sending me your feedback. it's already much more stable thanks to the comments I've gotten so far.

Comments

Drew Marsh said:

<snip>
I made configuration much simpler. Instead of using a config file for some global settings, I'm pulling from the registry.
</snip>
This seems like a major step backwards to me. I don't see why anyone would think it's simpler to use the registry than to edit an xml file. Please reconsider this change.
# April 26, 2004 2:02 PM

Robert W. McLaws said:

Nope. Won't reconsider. Some of the settings like backup file location and what not are stored in the registry, under the current user. It's the way I wanted to go anyways, but didn't have time in Beta 1.
# April 26, 2004 3:36 PM

Drew Marsh said:

Alright, well it's certainly you're call. I for one would be interested in hearing what the challenges were with implementing it in a configuration file versus the registry if you get some free time to explain some of your design decisions.

Keep up the good work. :)
# April 26, 2004 10:32 PM

Robert W. McLaws said:

Basically, it comes down to usability from a non-technical standpoint. It's not targeted at developers per-se. It needs to be simple for everyone. You can't use AppSettings because you can't write to it, and I don't really have time to write my own ConfigSection handler. It needs to work out of the box, and to do that I had to move the non-blog-configuration settings to the registry. It's much cleaner that way, and provides a much more pleasant experience for the end user.
# April 26, 2004 10:36 PM

Shannon J Hager said:

My suggestion: put default values into a config. Check for those default values on startup. If they are there, open a modal and ask for real blog URL/uname/pass values and automatically add the needed path values.

surely that is no more work than the installation package you'll have to create to store the info in the registry. It will also have the advantage of pleasing everyone, I think.

I would hate to see what was once a Visual Studio Add-in turn into something that is "not targeted at developers" to the point where it impacts the developers (both us and you) badly.
# April 27, 2004 7:06 AM

timh said:

"It's not targeted at developers per-se"

i'd have to agree w/shannon...how is a VS.NET add-in not targeted to developers?

i've also had several success with writing to appsettings...if you are referring to them loading on startup or something like that...you can create a separate config file (matching the same structure as an app.config and write/refresh/etc with it.
# April 28, 2004 12:46 AM

Jeff said:

Hey Robert... did I miss a notice of where the beta 2 drops are? I was holding off downloading till beta 2 as at the time it was only days away but I'm really tired of w.bloggar and would love to switch to your app.

Cheers,
Jeff
# May 5, 2004 9:46 PM