New WordPress Sociable Plugin Has Unintuitive Setup

I got a notification this morning that the Sociable plugin for WordPress had a new version available, and did I want to install it. I try to keep my plugins updated, so I upgraded. Sociable now has two modes: Skyscraper and Classic. Classic is what you’re used to, with a row of icons under a post. Skyscraper is a tall and thin tower that lives in the left-hand margin of your site, scrolling along with the page. Skyscraper is the new default, but going back to Classic is what is unintuitive.

In your admin page, if you hover over the new menu “Select Sociable Plugin” you will see three options: Select Sociable Plugin, Sociable Options, and Skyscraper Options. Selecting the first one brings you to a page explaining the difference between the two modes, with ginormous buttons at the bottom to choose which version you want. Clicking the button for either mode takes you to the options for that mode, but doesn’t actually change which mode is selected.

At the bottom of each mode’s options page is a checkbox labeled, “Activate…” and the mode name. I assumed that checking the one for Classic mode was all I needed to do, but clearing my cache and viewing the page showed that not to be the case. You must also uncheck the “Activate…” checkbox on the Skyscraper options page to enable Classic mode. If you don’t uncheck it, then you will still get the Skyscraper showing up on your posts. If you decide to switch back from Classic to Skyscraper, you have to uncheck Classic, then go to the Skyscraper options page and check that one.

Since this is a binary choice, they need to have ONE place to enable one and disable the other, or at least explain to you that you have to take the extra step.

No MiddleClickClose for Safari 4

06/09/2009 Update: I thought I’d updated all the pages on my blog about MiddleClickClose, but I missed this one. It now works with Safari 4. Read about it here.

At least, not yet. I installed the Safari 4 beta this morning to check the compatibility of my MiddleClickClose extension. As someone else noted, it doesn’t work. I poked it a bit to see what I could see, but it’s still not loading. I don’t have time right now to try to figure it out, but I’ll try to take another whack at it this weekend.

Wanna know what I think of the beta, after about 15 minutes of playing with it? Of course you do. First, let’s analyze the list of what’s new. Right off the bat, I noticed these:

  • Top Sites: Opera did it a few years ago and called it Speed Dial
  • Tabs on Top: Chrome did it last year and did it much better
  • Cover Flow: Hey Apple, I think you’re overusing Cover Flow
  • Smart Address Field: Firefox and Chrome both have this
  • Smart Search Field: Firefox and Chrome both have this

I point these out because the press release from Apple about Safari 4, shown here at CruchGear, described these features as “innovative.” They are only innovative for the first browser to implement them, so I guess we have to give points to them for Cover Flow, but the others are just Apple playing catchup.

What’s still missing? Decent extension support, for one. Firefox has a rich set of extensions that do all sorts of cool things. I only use a few, but I wouldn’t want to browse without them. Technically it’s possible to write extensions for Safari, but it’s essentially an unsupported, filthy, dirty hack. While Firefox’s extension mechanism is a clusterf*ck of obscure files and object relationships, at least it’s documented and supported.

And of course Safari still doesn’t support closing of tabs with a middle-click. But I guess that goes back to Apple’s insane devotion to single-button mice.

Speaking of tabs, their implementation of “tabs on top” sucks compared to Chrome’s. With Chrome, there’s still about half a centimeter of title bar above the tabs for moving the window around and/or bringing it to the foreground. In Safari, the tabs go all the way to the top of the window, so if you have more than one tab open, you no longer have a title bar to grab. Yes, clicking-and-holding on a tab will let you move the window, but if you just wanted to bring the window to the foreground, if you clicked on a tab other than the one that was on top, you would end up bringing that tab to the front as you brought the window to the foreground, which isn’t what you wanted to do. But, truth be told, I don’t like tabs on top anyway. I was sort of interested when Chrome did it, but after using it for a while, I’d rather keep them where they’ve always been. (This article explains how to make Safari 4 move its tabs back below the address bar.)

As for Cover Flow, Apple is using it all over the place, and it’s getting old. I have no desire to see my bookmarks in Cover Flow mode. I know what my bookmarks are, thus I don’t need pictures to jog my memory.

Oh yeah, bookmarks. From what I can see, there is still no way to sort bookmarks. Yes, you can drag them into the order that you want, but that’s crap. I should be able to easily sort alphabetically by name, without resorting to manually dragging them into the order I want. Firefox does this with a right-click menu….

It’s not all bad, of course. From what Apple says, and from what I’ve heard, the JavaScript engine is blisteringly fast. I’ve always been impressed with Safari’s JavaScript speed, so improvements in this department are gravy. And for those who use Safari on Windows (I’ve never understood why anyone would, but who knows?), you finally have a Windows look & feel, so it doesn’t look like a Mac app running on Windows. That’s as it should be; I don’t like L&F pollution.

This is a beta release, so some of these things could change. I would really like to see official support for middle-click closing of tabs and bookmark sorting but I’m not going to hold my breath.