Blogger’s Obfuscated IDs

April 4th, 2017

For years, MarsEdit was not able to upload directly to Google’s Blogger service. Instead, it had to upload to Google’s sibling service: Picasa Web Albums. Recently, Picasa has been folded into Google Photos, and in the course of the transition, Google has forbidden apps such as MarsEdit from creating albums on the service.

This left MarsEdit in a bind with respect to supporting image uploads for Blogger. The good news is Google added support for uploading directly to the Google Photos album that is used for Blogger images. Sort of…

MarsEdit 3.7.11 introduced the ability to upload directly to the Blogger photos album, and it seems to work flawlessly for many Blogger users. Unfortunately, it fails spectacularly for a subset of users. Specifically, if your Blogger user profile is set to use a “Blogger-specific” identity, you will not be able to upload images from MarsEdit. If, on the other hand, your Blogger profile is set to use a Google+ identity, everything should work fine.

The cause seems rooted in Blogger’s understanding that a “Blogger-specific” profile may be used for purely pseudonymous blogs. For this reason the information they share with MarsEdit includes a user ID that is not the user’s actual ID, but an “obfuscated ID.” When MarsEdit proceeds to use this ID to upload to Google Photos, the tell-tale error message is generated:

Can’t upload file for [your blog name] because the server reported an error: Invalid length for obfuscated ID "[your obfuscated ID]".

I’m not sure yet whether the obfuscated ID is meant to work, but that there is a bug in the Google Photos API. Ideally, that is the case and the Google Photos team could fix something on the server to get things working. On the other hand, it may be intentional that no client such as MarsEdit should be able to use one of these anonymized IDs to upload photos to Google.

The long and short of it is if you want to reliably upload photos from MarsEdit to a Blogger blog, you need to switch your blogging identity to a Google+ account. Google has documentation about this process, which also includes caveats about the implications of making the switch:

Change your profile on Blogger.

Existing MarsEdit users who had previously established a workflow of uploading images may already have a “MarsEdit Images” album among your Google Photos Albums. If so, you can achieve a short-term workaround by downgrading to MarsEdit 3.7.10, which will continue to try uploading to an existing MarsEdit Images album. Unfortunately, when this album reaches capacity, MarsEdit will not be able to create a new album.

I will continue tracking this issue while I weigh my options for additional workarounds. I am also in touch with some folks at Google and I hope they will have advice or devise a reliable means for MarsEdit to support image uploads regardless of the “identity” setting on a user’s Blogger account.

Diamond Anniversary

March 31st, 2017

Only after reflecting on the ten-years-old support for Blogger in MarsEdit, did I realize I had missed yet another important milestone in Red Sweater history:

February 22 marked the ten year anniversary of my acquisition of MarsEdit:

You read that right, no need to run for another cup of coffee. MarsEdit, the kick-ass, intuitive web-publishing powerhouse which I’ve been using to write entries here since I started blogging almost two years ago, is now part of the Red Sweater family of products. What an exciting day!

Where has the time gone? I sometimes despair at the relatively slow progress I seem to make in the development of all my software, MarsEdit included. On the other hand, looking back at the screenshot I included in that original post, it’s also easy to appreciate how much the app has evolved in the years since I’ve been developing it:


Wow. Well, first of all I’m writing this post on a Retina display, and I certainly hoping you are reading it on one. The first thing that jumps out is how fuzzy everything used to be. How did we live that way? Furthermore a number of key UI elements have been dramatically reworked just in the post editor interface alone. Let’s see how things look on the version of MarsEdit I’m running:

Diamond Anniversary

Now, to be fair, this is a screenshot from an as-yet unreleased version of MarsEdit, but the gist of the design is pretty close to the shipping MarsEdit 3.7.11. The main difference experienced MarsEdit users will notice is the addition of an icon formatting bar above the main text content. This little teaser is your reward for having read through the length of this post, and for helping me in celebrating my Diamond Anniversary with MarsEdit.

MarsEdit 3.7.11: Fix Blogger Photo Uploads

March 31st, 2017

MarsEdit 3.7.11 is now available from the MarsEdit home page, and will be submitted to Apple for update on the Mac App Store.

For years, Blogger didn’t support direct photo uploads to a blog. Instead, MarsEdit uploaded photos to a photo album on Google’s Picasa Web Albums service. This was a reasonable workaround, since the same credentials used to log in to the blog could also be used to upload photos.

A few weeks ago, Google changed the behavior of the Picasa Web Albums interface that MarsEdit connects to, making it impossible to create a new album for MarsEdit photos. This means that existing MarsEdit users who had not met the quota limit for their album could continue uploading photos, but new MarsEdit users and existing users who met the quota, could not create a new album to continue uploading.

Luckily, in the years since I first added Blogger support to MarsEdit (ten years ago!), Blogger eventually added support for uploading directly to the blog-specific photo album.

MarsEdit 3.7.11 takes advantage of that access, and all photos uploaded through MarsEdit to a Blogger-hosted blog, will from this release forward be added directly to the same album as photos uploaded through the Blogger web interface.

As a special note for those who would prefer to have their photos uploaded to another Google photo album, if you locate the Google Photos album ID, you can use this long numeric value as the “Section” in MarsEdit’s photo upload details view, to upload directly to whatever album you choose (providing your Google account has permission to do so).

This update also includes a minor bug fix for users of the Japanese service.

Black Ink 1.6.7: No Jiggling Letters

January 20th, 2017

Black Ink 1.6.7 is now available from the Black Ink home page, and is waiting for review by Apple on the Mac App Store.

A subtle usability issue that’s bothered me for years is Black Ink’s propensity to, in some instances, redraw the solved letters of a puzzle ever so slightly off from the previous location. This had the effect of causing some letters to appear to “jiggle” as you type in the answers for adjoining squares.

I finally figured out the cause of that problem, and fixed it along with a crashing bug affecting Touch Bar Macs, and a possible energy-saving change to prevent Black Ink using the unnecessarily powerful graphics card on some Macs:

  • Fix a problem where puzzle grid answers could shift slightly while solving
  • Add NSSupportsAutomaticGraphicsSwitching to Info.plist to depending on high power GPU
  • Workaround a bug that could cause Black Ink to crash when waking a Touch Bar Mac from sleep

Happy solving!