UserSpace early beta

Phil was kind enough to include me as part of his beta testing team for UserSpace, his followup blog client to EspressoBlog, so I’ve been posting most of my posts tonight from UserSpace.

First impressions: quite good! For one reason or another, all of the prior standalone applications I’ve used to post to my weblog have had just enough quirks or annoyances to keep me using the standard MT interface most of the time. Phil actually came closest to what I was looking for with EspressoBlog, and it was the prior reigning champion…but UserSpace has it beat hands down.

UserSpace is fast, organizes the various elements and options available for weblog posts well, and handles all the various little goodies that I like to have available (multiple weblog support, primary and extended entry, excerpt, and even keyword fields, multiple category selection, menus for text formatting and comments — any goodie that you have available within the standard MT interface is in UserSpace). I can even set upload directories individually for any uploaded files. Nicely done!

That said, of course, I’ve stumbled across a couple small bugs (though that’s why they call these ‘betas’, right?). None of them deal-breakers, but worth mentioning. There’s no indication that UserSpace is doing anything when posting an entry or uploading a file. Some small progress bar or spinning flower (or whatever the OS X dingbat for “I’m thinking, leave me alone” is) would be handy, just so we know that something is going on.

For some reason, I can’t upload files (though this may well be something odd on my end, and not within UserSpace). When I try, I get the following error:

XML-RPC Fault Fault code: 0 Fault message: Application failed during request deserialization: Can’t locate MIME/Base64.pm in @INC (@INC contains: /Library/WebServer/CGI-Executables/mt/extlib /Library/WebServer/CGI-Executables/mt/lib /System/Library/Perl/darwin /System/Library/Perl /Library/Perl/darwin /Library/Perl /Library/Perl /Network/Library/Perl/darwin /Network/Library/Perl /Network/Library/Perl .) at /Library/WebServer/CGI-Executables/mt/extlib/XMLRPC/Lite.pm line 278.

I ran into some wierdness with categories that seemed to fix itself. I had a couple posts that originally showed up on my main page without categories assigned, but when I put the next post up, the categories mysteriously appeared.

The last thing I ran into actually amused me. After posting the ‘Dean calls for Bush accountability‘ post, I realized that I’d mucked up the link. Easy to fix, as UserSpace has the ability to edit past posts. I jumped in, fixed the goof, and saved the edited post.

Elmer Fudd posessed my blog!Imagine my surprise when after saving the post, it showed up with the ‘Hunting Wabbits’ text formatting option — suddenly Elmer Fudd had posessed my weblog! ;) Apparently, if you don’t specifically choose a text formatting plugin, UserSpace defaults to the standard ‘Convert Line Breaks’ plugin when first submitting a post. Upon editing a post, however, as there is no text formatting option specifically chosen, it defaults to the first item in the menu — which in my case, let Elmer Fudd run rampant. Again, it was an easy fix (just choose the correct text formatting option, and re-save), but it gave me a good laugh when I saw what had happened.

All in all, though, I’m quite happy with where UserSpace is, even in its ‘early beta’ stage.