The CTRL-Z Blogger Hole

I’ve run across this ctrl-z bug a few times in the Blogger interface and it’s about to drive me nuts. The first time I noticed it I was working on an article that I had published previously, an article that still had some cludgy wording in it I wanted fixed, and I wanted to add a bit of HTML zing! to the post. I had it open in the blogger edit interface, the same old Blogger interface that has been the Blogger interface since the beginning of the world wide web if not the beginning of time as we know it. A white and grey interface with orange buttons? The one that has a toggle in the upper left corner that says “Compose” on one button and “HTML” on the other? Two different shades of grey? You know the one I’m talking about. I had messed up some code I had entered under the “HTML” setting, and after checking the results in “Compose” I hit ctrl-z to undo the change, and the entire post I was editing simply disappeared!

Luckily I could just back out and start over re-editing. It was a pain but at least I could access the original post. This error has happened a few times since then. Every time it has happened, I have had a version of the post that I could go back to, luckily. A frustrating but recoverable error. Until this time.

Today I was working in a test post that I keep hanging around to save snippets of code in, handily named test post. I had just done some tweaking on some code in the HTML interface. I didn’t like the way it looked in the Compose interface, and I stupidly did the same thing again. I can clearly remember thinking “where was that error?” right before discovering the error again. However, this time I had no version to go back to because test post had never been published for more than a few minutes, and since it was currently a draft post the blogger interface helpfully over-wrote my test post, with all those years of HTML coding snippets saved just for this reason, so that I wouldn’t lose them, and it over-wrote that long, ugly mess with a fresh, new, blank post it had created when I hit ctrl-z.

Funny? It did once. Does again

If I had been thinking at the time I might have stopped everything and gone looking. I mean, I know there is an excellent article (from 2009) on recovering deleted posts over on The Original Blogger Tips and Tricks. I first ran across his five points for recovering deleted blog posts last year when the mobile Blogger app helpfully overwrote a published post I just happened to have created in the mobile interface before completing it later on the desktop. When I reopened the mobile version to do what I saw as some quick editing, it opened the stored version of the earlier post, and then wrote that clearly unfinished, earlier work over the published, significantly longer, one. Suggestion four from his list look for a cached version worked like a charm on that occasion, and I was able to just pretend the entire screaming-rage-fit had never happened.

It has views to prove it.

Suggestion number three, go back to a previous version in the same window might have been helpful [was not helpful] had I not [even though I didn’t] rage-quit the window in frustration [this time.] just before [There is no use] going to the blogger forums to complain about the fact that ctrl-z still deletes everything on screen in the edit interface[.] and being helpfully reminded of [T]he Tips and Tricks post by the first thread that mentioned ctrl-z. will not remedy the problem with [ctrl-z] deleted drafts[ and there isn’t anything that other users can say or do that will make me feel less stupid or bring the wasted hours of work back.]

This is an old, old interface error. I know it’s an old and common complaint, because there is a near-endless string of threads on the blogger forum that documents just how old and frustrating this error is. Just enter ctrl-z into the forum search window, and look at all the people who have the same problem, with no good resolution to be offered to them other than to be lectured to about backing up your data. [This is the only viable solution for accidentally deleting drafts aside from not editing drafts in the edit window within the blogger interface. This may seem counterintuitive, but, if you are editing anywhere else in the Google, Apple or Microsoft universe, drafts don’t just magically disappear when you try to undo. There is almost always a copy of your most recent work stored in memory somewhere. Until Google and/or Blogger institute a recycle bin or some other saving system that doesn’t overwrite your latest work upon leaving the interface, this error will have the catastrophic effect is has on unpublished drafts.]

[I think I’ve found out what is causing this problem, but again, the only way to correct it is to reprogram the drafts interface in such a way as to see drafts as not being completely transient temporary files. I have another long draft that I’ve been working on for about a decade now. I opened it to check if I had saved notes to incorporate in the draft, and seeing that I hadn’t; I created a new draft in another window, copied and pasted the notes and saved that new draft. Having not made any changes to the original draft article I deemed it unchanged and told blogger not to save changes. This is the action that gives the location of the error away. I had toggled over to the HTML editor! When I flipped back to Compose, blogger saw that as a completely new file, never in existence before I toggled back to Compose. When I told it not to save changes, it abandoned the file exactly as if I had never wrote and rewrote and compiled and rewrote and recompiled and etcetera, etcetera ad nauseum. New file discarded.

Silly me, I go back to the other drafts tab and close the new file I had created today. It doesn’t prompt me to save. It autosaved already. Data preserved. Hmm, that’s interesting. The search terms that turned up the other file now show the new file is the only one with those terms in it. Surely the interface didn’t…? Yep. It did. The blogger interface deleted ten years worth of angst in a microsecond because the file, as far as the interface was concerned, hadn’t existed until it recompiled the HTML into the WYSIWYG display file. This behavior would be what you would expect if the key combination CTRL-Z were pressed on a new file. There’s only one action to undo. Creation of the file. The WYSIWYG display file is promptly cleared with CTRL-Z when you return to the Compose screen because writing that file was the only action performed. Not allowing the new file to be saved before exiting the editing interface means that the file the interface just created, even though it was a ten year old file before you opened it, is abandoned today. File deleted. Programming error discovered. Will Google/Blogger ever fix it? I’m not screaming mad about it this time because having been burned before I had started making backups. The file is in the backup I made after editing it the last time. At least, I hope it was the last time. Fingers crossed?]

Yes, we understand. We are all but children in the eyes of the internet gods who never commit an error. We are so sorry to have to point this out but sometimes shit just happens. Sometimes you do something that you know is wrong at exactly the instant you do it, but you somehow still do it anyway. We children would really like known bugs to be fixed when they are brought to the attention of the for-profit programmers who work in the giant corporations that can’t help but run our flawed, childlike world. If you aren’t going to fix your errors, why the hell should the rest of us be any different? Why the hell are we relying on you when we could write code at least as well as you do, and do it in our own time? How many years does it take to fix an obvious flaw like ctrl-z blanks the edit window? I’m certain I could duplicate blogger’s interface in less than a decade, and I really don’t have to since I could install WordPress on my own website and learn about all the bugs that are in that interface, just for a nice change of pace.

At least if I’m paying WordPress I’m no longer the product being sold, but the customer being served. Food for thought.

It just happened again. FFS, Google!?! Blogger!?! Wake the fuck up and fix your shit! 10/27/2018 error discovered! Blogger is still broken! January, 2019. Migrated to Wordpress. Goodbye Blogger interface. 

Author: RAnthony

I'm a freethinking, unapologetic liberal. I'm a former CAD guru with an architectural fetish. I'm a happily married father. I'm also a disabled Meniere's sufferer.

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