Broken Images with Blogger, Picasa, and WLW

04Jan08

There’s an issue that will bite you, hard, if you have a *.blogspot.com blog that you post images to using Windows Live Writer, and then later take that blog to a non-blogspot.com domain (either by opting for the FTP publishing option, or through Blogger’s own custom domain hosting). You’ll find that all images that were posted by WLW to Picasa and referenced from blog posts will appear broken.

I’ll describe the cause in detail below, but first, the solution.

  1. Download and run this tool to repair your old posts. You must save the .exe to your hard drive, not run it right from the browser, or else you’ll get security errors. It’s a good idea to spot-check the first couple of posts it repairs, before letting it rip through all the rest of your posts. (The tool is supplied by me as an individual, not Microsoft; no warranty expressed or implied, use at your own risk, yadda yadda.)
  2. Open Writer and switch to the Blogger blog in question. Go to Weblog | Edit Weblog Settings | Update Account Configuration. Replace the old *.blogspot.com homepage URL with your new custom domain URL, then step through the wizard.

Going forward on your non-blogspot.com blog, your images will be effectively limited to 800×800. If you have a web host, you can avoid this constraint (and the ever-annoying "clickthrough image downloads instead of displays" problem) by using FTP for image uploads instead. That option is under Weblog | Edit Weblog Settings | Images.

Details after the jump. Buckle up–it’s going to get a little bumpy.

When we upload an image to Picasa, we get a URL back that links straight to that image as originally uploaded. Picasa also offers a myriad of scaled-down sizes for any given image, but since we have already done the image scaling before we upload the image, we really want to link back to the full-size image that we uploaded.

That would be fine, except that Picasa disallows hot-links to the full-size images unless the referring page is on blogspot.com. However, they will allow any page to link to the various scaled-down images. The largest size they offer is 800×800; any image whose width and height are both less than 800 will be returned in its original size, but anything larger will be proportionally reduced to fit within 800×800.

For *.blogspot.com users, Writer will use the full-size image link. But if you’re using a Blogger blog whose homepage URL doesn’t match *.blogspot.com, it will use the 800×800 thumbnail link instead (by appending ?imgmax=800).

If you were able to follow all that, it should be clear why migrating from foo.blogspot.com to foo.com presents a problem. First, we can’t magically fix all your old image references. (That’s Step 1.) Second, we don’t magically know that you have switched to foo.com and thus we should use 800×800 thumbnails for future posts. (That’s Step 2.)

Really advanced Blogger users may be wondering whether this is a problem with images you upload through the Blogger web interface–after all, those pictures end up on Picasa as well. The answer is no. Although Blogger images appear in Picasa albums, they are served up from dedicated servers that have more lenient rules. It would be great if Writer could access those same servers and get the same behavior as Blogger images, but that seems unlikely to happen.

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26 Responses to “Broken Images with Blogger, Picasa, and WLW”

  1. I haven’t had a Blogger.com blog in over a year (self-hosted WordPress now) I really appreciate the depth of your description here. Thanks for the continued work on such a useful tool.

    Rob

  2. Joe, just wanted to say that WLW editing is pretty unresponsive when post contains images ;-(

    Generally, it works okay, but when cursor moves, it moves not instantly, but with some delay.

    I even thinking about multicore cpu just to write posts and that’s pretty sad.

  3. Unless I’m missing something obvious, the fix will only work if one uses WLW from one machine that holds all posts. Since I use WLW from several different machines, and my posts are a mix of WLW, blogger and OS X clients, it won’t work.

    Ah well.

    You should probably make clear this isn’t really a WLW bug, it’s a flaw arising from Google’s pseudo-integration of Blogger and Picasa — two properties I feel are in an underfunded limbo.

    Google should fix this, especially for their domain-specific migrations.

    Thanks for doing your best to deal with Google’s mess.

  4. @Vladekk: This could be because of complex CSS/HTML in your blog layout. Is it faster in Normal view? What kind of CPU do you have? Multicore will not help, as I believe the editor will generally only use one thread for rendering.

    @John: The fix will actually work from any machine, as the tool connects to your Blogger blog and downloads all of your existing posts.

  5. Ouch! Thanks for detailing this problem. Another way in which the Picasa upload solution is “not really a complete solution” for Blogger. I agree that it would be great if we could get access to the magic “Blogger” Picasa album. Seems like it would solve a lot of problems like this.

    Another persistent problem I run into is having to tell customers that the reason they can’t upload “to their blog” is because they haven’t yet signed up for a Picasa account. These people don’t want to sign up, they just want to upload “to their blog.”

    Frustrating.

  6. Hi Joe,

    thanks again for your comprehensive summary! I followed your proposal to use my own FTP space instead and this works like a charm …

    BR
    Mario

  7. @Joe
    It it also was slow in normal view, there are alsmost no CSS at my blog anyway. I’m using Athlon 64 2800+, not so slow machine.
    I know renderer is probably singlethreaded, what I mean these new multicore monsters are very fast by themselves.

    Ops! I tested it again, now it is fast and responsive even with many pictures. I wonder what happened earlier . . .

  8. 这个很让人沮丧!同样的问题也发生在我的身上。同样是Athlon 64 2800+,反应也不是很快。不过还是回归到那个问题。图片刚才试了一个多小时,还是没有解决。用你的那个软件,但是被GFW给BAN了。不知道你是不是想要得到那个RSS的地址,我通过代理下载到了DEFAULT文件,但是,还是没有办法上传图片。到PICASA里面发现一个以WINDOWS LIVE WRITER命名的相册,结果就是图片在这里,而不是在BLOGSPOT上面,结果就是自己测试的BLOG并没有成功,还是一个小叉。
    自己是在中国大陆,西安。

  9. I am havin this problem….
    Am not able to run your tool…
    (Error:application failed to start b’cos the application configuration is incorrect)
    What are the minimum requirements…
    Is there any .net framework runtime to install…where can i get that??
    ripejuices@gmail.com

  10. I installed .net framework…
    and successfully run the application
    After selecting the blog which must be repaired ,the application closes after just 3 seconds without repairing…

    Please help me…

  11. Renjith, can you copy/paste the contents of your console window after the application finishes, and e-mail it to me at joe.cheng *AT* microsoft.com? If it closes without giving you a chance to copy it, start a command window (Start | Run | “cmd”) and run it from there.

  12. Mailed you the contents…Please help

    Thank you

  13. Wow. I was having this exact problem. Will try the tool. Thanks!

  14. Your solution did work, but the script didn’t… It’s not being able to retrieve any post from my blog…

  15. Shridhar, can you try this one instead? If it works for you, I’ll update the post.

    http://www.joecheng.com/code/BloggerImageFixup2.exe

    Thanks…

  16. I want to see a feature/plug-in that allows me to see a directory thumbnail view of my uploads folder to see all the images I’ve already got in the directory. I know I’ve used images in the past, I just can’t find them.

  17. Does this will fix?

    I’m scared a few sales of my portfolio of domains, needs to be done? Send my portfolio, if you’re interested in any domain, as I have a $ 60 starting price …. os $ 50 game that does not reach more than $ 200 at auction
    . this is chaos! If you are interested….

    http://domainbox.blogspot.com/

  18. 18 Mia

    Is this problem still happening? I’m thinking to move from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress, but my blog is *very* heavy on images – all hosted tru WLW to Picasa…
    Will I lose all of them? :(
    Please, let me know

  19. Mia, are you planning to bring your old posts over to self-hosted WordPress somehow? If not, then don’t worry about it–you can leave your old blog just as it is. If so, then make sure to use the fixup tool linked to from this post.

  20. Wonderful ! I will try this, seems it is exactly what I need. If things doing well with your tool I post here the results. Thanks in advance !

  21. Today I opened my blogspot blog and was missing alot of images. I painstaking replaced all the missing images except for a few. My images all come from picasa. Will your fix work if I am on a mac?

  22. Sorry Gina, PC only…

  23. I have given up on Picasa. I’m using Flickr with no problems so far. Pity the Blogger/Picasa integration is so poorly implemented. But I don’t have the time to waste on it. If Google doesn’t want to dedicate resources to fixing stuff that doesn’t work, that’s ok because there are lots of alternatives out there.

  24. Joe, Thanks for script. Somehow it did not work on my site. When I ran this is what I got

    D:\temp>BloggerImageFixup2.exe
    Blogger Fixup Utility v1.0.2953.36171
    =====================================
    Fixes up images uploaded by Windows Live Writer to Picasa
    so they work with FTP-based blogger blogs.

    Press Ctrl+C at any time to cancel.

    Please enter your username: xxxxxxxxxxx
    Please enter your password: xxxxxxxxxxx

    Retrieving list of blogs for user xxxxxxxxxxxx

    1) Exploring Oracle

    Please enter the number of the blog you wish to fix: 1
    Downloaded 25 of 27
    Downloaded 27 of 27
    Scanning blog entries
    Found 0 entries to fix

    It did not seem to find the issue. Any thoughts?

    Thanks in advance. Ittichai

  25. Not Working For me…..


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