Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Struggles with Radio Lawrence Lee, who works at Userland and maintains the incomparably excellent Tomalak's Realm heard about my troubles with Radio and suggested I made sure "" was running on a browser after I started the system. This actually worked (thanks Lawrence!) but note how this problem KILLS the customer experience. If, for some reason, a browser pointed to that URL does not appear after starting Radio then the product appears utterly useless for that user. It's very tough for Userland to recover from that error and keep the trial user. Others have emailed me reporting similar experiences.

But since Lawrence was kind enough to help me out, I did recover and got things started, even posting a few notes on my new Radio site. All well and good. But the problem was--the site sucked. The typical radio template ("theme") is design intensive, right down to the 1 pixel gifs for spacing. Slow slow slow over dialup, hard to edit, and causes Netscape to hang on my system. But when I tried to pare things down so they more closely matched this site it was like pulling teeth. Reams of convoluted table within table HTML, tags ("macros" maybe?) that I couldn't understand, four different levels of templates which I couldn't tell apart, and a discussion forum (for help) that lacked search, making it hard to find specific information. Bad customer experience.

So I used google to crawl through Userland's discussion groups, found some helpful stuff, and dinked around trying to slim the site. But I was doing all this in a web application and wondered "what does the download do?" There was no obvious documentation, and I still have no idea. Infact, I have no idea what 99% of the stuff in Radio does.

Why am I spending time on this when Blogger serves my needs so well?

Blogger is wonderful--easy, fast, simple. But the service has been giving me some problems. Sometimes it's down, and it'd be nice to have something useful run on my desktop for those moments. It recently ate my templates (for no good reason). It recently had issues with ftp'ing stuff, even though everything worked fine before. I hoped Userland would give me Blogger ease-of-use with more reliability and was willing to pay for that. But that didn't happen so I'll check out Blogger Pro instead.

I'm clearly not the only one considering switching from Blogger to Radio. I'm sure Dave and Ev don't want to compete fiercely, but it wouldn't be terrible if Radio (much smaller user base) kept this in mind and anticipated the needs of switchers. They could make it easy to move archives over, make it easy to move templates over, and make it easy for folks to understand how Radio works given that they know how Blogger works. Instead, Radio gives us Blogger API in Radio which I'm sure is wonderful, but I have no idea what it is and it doesn't help me get my blog working.

I like Userland. I like Dave. I wanted to like Radio, but I don't understand it. It's too complicated. It doesn't help me get my work done. It makes it hard for me to switch. Maybe 9.0 will be better. Maybe I'll try again then. Maybe not.


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