Okay, who is the freakin’ idiot who thought using the backspace button on the keyboard as a “back to previously visited web page” in your web browser was a good idea. Curse and pox on his head!
After working for over an hour on an article for this site, the cat or “someone” moved the mouse focus from the textarea of my WordPress Write Post panel to the page itself. I was still typing and hit the backspace quickly to correct a spelling mistake and BOOM…SCREAMS….TEARS…POUNDING FISTS….PULLING HAIR. The cat explodes off her bed on my desk, changing instantly from a curled up sleeping position to flying cat position in microseconds. My husband looks up from his laptop, focuses on the screaming wife and calmly says, “You did it again.”
YES, I DID! DAMN. POOP. CRAP. And all the other politically and socially correct words I dare use on this site.
The backspace button reloaded the last web page view in the screen before I could stop it. Everything I’d been working on was gone, gone, gone. No refreshing, checking the cache, or anything would bring it back. This is not a bug in WordPress. This is the agony of writing and editing directly via web page browsers.
Living With the Agony of Web Page Browser Blogs
Let me say right off the top that web page blogging tools like WordPress are great. What is the problem is the fact that access is via the browser, not the most up-to-date and well intentioned creation on the planet. For the most part, Internet browsers aren’t meant to be used to fill out forms and post web page content. They are meant for viewing. Though part of their task is to allow the user to fill out forms and post content on web pages. It’s just not the whole purpose.
When you are working inside of a textarea in a form on a web page, which is what the Write Post Panel and other administration panels on WordPress are – glorified forms, it is just like a typewriter. You can type the letters, hit delete and backspace, and treat it like a typewriter. Unfortunately, the browser developers have added shortcut keys to “make your life easier” and if you move your cursor or mouse outside of the textarea of any form, you are now vulnerable to those keyboard shortcuts.
Hitting the backspace button when viewing a web page on most browsers acts like the “back” button in your browser, taking you back a web page. This results in lost content. Work going down the drain.
One of the ways to defeat it is to turn this function off. The Firefox extension for keyboard configuration allows you to customize your keyboard shortcuts and configurations when using Firefox. I installed it and changed the backspace button to do nothing. It works perfectly inside of the textarea boxes, but other than that, it doesn’t do anything at all when I’m using Firefox.
If you are using Internet Explorer, try searching for “remapping keys Internet Explorer”. If anyone comes up with a way to do this easily, please post it in the comments below. I spent ages trying to track this down. It used to be easy but now your best bet is to use one of the many free software utilities for remapping the keyboard or try PC Magazine’s TradeKeys for remapping keys in Windows.
The backspace key is not the only agony online bloggers face. I type fast and one of the key combinations that sends me screaming is the CONTROL+A which is the keyboard shortcut for “select all”. I use it all the time. I love it for big copy and pastes. But flying fingers on the keyboard will sometimes connect with that combination when trying to hit the SHIFT and slipping to the CTRL key and all of the text is selected and the next thing I type writes right over the top of it. This is not unique to online stuff. This happens in word processors, too. The difference is in the number of UNDOs you have.
With Internet Explorer, I had one chance to undo a boo boo. CTRL+Z is my undo friend. With Firefox, I can go back a little further, and it remembers collections of text changes, not just one letter at a time. It includes an Undo and Redo in the Edit Menu of the browser. Which is great if I’m paying attention.
While it is rare, on occasion I have reached for the 5 or 6 key and slipped forward and hit the F5 key which is the famous REFRESH. This reloads the screen, which can instantly be as successful as the backspace button at erasing all your hard work. For now, I won’t remap that key since I use it often. I’ll just be careful.
Misery Posting with Microsoft Internet Explorer
I just spent three hours trying to edit and write posts in WordPress using Microsoft Internet Explorer. What a pain. I’m on someone else’s computer, and they don’t have Firefox. Trust me, I’m spoiled with Firefox.
The most painful part is the lack of concentrated “focus” by the mouse. When I click in the Write Post textarea, I want to be able to use the scroll wheel to move up and down within the written post area, not the whole page. Yet, when I use the mouse scroll wheel in MSIE, once the scroll reaches the top or the bottom, even though I’ve clicked and activated (called “focus”) the textarea box where I’m writing, the whole page moves up or down, scrolling right by the edit post box.
I have spent way too much time scrolling around trying to keep the post textarea centered on the screen. While writing, I needed to scroll down to check something and wham, the whole page scrolled down too far and I’m suddenly looking at the Post Preview area instead of the Post edit textarea. The scrolling doesn’t stop within the textarea, but jumps to the whole page. PAINFUL.
MSIE also assumes it knows better than you when it comes to selecting text with the mouse. I like to work in HTML text edit mode and not the WordPress rich text editor (WYSIWYG). I often need to select a bit of text next to a code and MSIE assumes I am trying to select a whole word or sentence or something and it will not allow me to stop the selection point with the mouse at ANY POINT I want or need. ARGHH!
MSIE also has a lot of problems with the new AJAX technology used in the WordPress 1.6 ALPHA administration panels. And the developers and designers need to work on the layout and styles for MSIE as some of their famous browser bugs are showing up. But this is part of beta testing. The rest of my whine is directed directly at Microsoft.
Misery of Blogging Online Not Limited to Internet Explorer
While I have trouble imagining how horrid is it for online bloggers to use Internet Explorer, Firefox is not without it’s own agonies, in addition to those I have mentioned.
I often have 4 to 20 tabs open with web page information as I work on an article and do my research. I almost always have a tab open for my main site, my main site’s administration panel, this site, it’s administration panel, and the WordPress Codex and WordPress Forum, since I spend so much time there. That’s 6 consistent tags open all the time.
One of the major flaws with Firefox is that when you hit the BACK button, Firefox just goes BACK on whatever page is active and being viewed rather than the page viewed at the MOMENT the BACK command was issued. ARGHH. I can have four Firefox windows open instead of tabs, and it will also do the very same thing, moving back a page on whatever page I’m viewing rather than the one I want to move back on.
If I’m in the Write Post screen working on an article, and I’ve written a bunch of things but not saved it yet, then I move to another tab and hit the BACK button for that page to check on information just previously visited. If I return to the WordPress site Write Post tab before the other tab has moved “back” a page, my Write Post page will move BACK to the previously viewed page and I will lose all my writing up to the point of the last save – similar to the screaming fits over the BACK button in general.
Internet Explorer doesn’t do this because it keeps everything in its own window, clogging up your taskbar, and I adore the tab features of Firefox – but this annoying thing sends me screaming!
Save often and frequently. And back everything up.
Avoiding The Data Loss Pain
For WordPress users, the Save and Continue Editing button is there for a reason. Use it. If what I’m working on is critical, I will save and continue editing every 10 minutes or less, or when I step away from my computer.
While it isn’t the best idea, you can write your posts in good text editor or word processor, if you have turned off all the curly character quotes and apostrophes and other tweaks that will mess up the text when you post it. Then copy and paste them into the Write Post panel and add your images and other details. This will free you up from the hassles of writing on a browser.
I’d like to know what some of your suffering has been when using online blogs and editing in a web page. How do you protect yourself from your own screaming, hair pulling moments? Have you found some tricks to recover when things go screwy? Share your stories.
Update: If you are using Firefox, which I can’t recommend enough, the Firefox Extension Session Saver saves your open tabs so you can instantly open up everything you had open in Firefox after a crash. You can even save sessions of open tabs so you can restore them at any time. They have also added a Textsaver feature that will save everything you are typing in any textarea boxes, forms or frames. Awesome. Firefox just keeps getting better!
WordPressMU developers are also looking into a little wordpress.com bug with Firefox Session Saver. If you have the Write Post panel open at the time you either close Firefox or your computer crashes, when Session Saver reloads the tabs, including the wordpress.com blank Write Post panel, the date will be spread across the Password Portect Post, Post Slug, Categories, and Date. Open and check those textarea boxes before you write in that panel and save the post. Otherwise, after the post has been saved, you will see it marked as a Password Protected post. The password is usually 2005, or whatever year this is. Hopefully, this will be figured out soon.
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