Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Guess What?

The Real Blogger Status Beta joined the ranks of the unhappy Bloggers.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Lost Blog

Converted one or more blogs, and was using them happily as Beta. Then tried to convert others, and previously converted ones have disappeared.
Only solution, per Blogger Employee, is to contact Blogger Support, and wait.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Blogger Beta Design Deficiencies

This list will very likely get very long, very quickly.
  • The title bar, which has always been clickable to return the viewer from article view to main page view, is not provided that way. The title can be made clickable, but not totally cleanly so.
Watch this space.

Blogger Beta Problems

This is where it starts. I know this list will get longer soon.
  • Lost Blog Some blogs convert successfully, others disappear from existence.
  • Template Corruption aka "We're sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.".
Watch this list.

Restore The Main Page Link To The Title

For every seasoned Blogger, whenever you setup a Blogger Alpha blog, and go to view an individual article, selecting the title of the blog would always get you back to main page view. That is one of the most standard features in any Alpha blog.

Not so with Beta. And since you can't edit the template, you're stuck. Right?

Wrong. You can't edit the template itself - raw template access isn't provided. But you can edit the individual page elements.

Go into Template - Page Elements, and edit the element with the title in it. In my case, I find
The Real Blogger Status Beta
and I select the Edit link. I see the Configure Header window. It has the Blog Title
The Real Blogger Status Beta
I add a hypertext link, and make it
<a href="">The Real Blogger Status Beta</a>
select SAVE CHANGES then SAVE. When I select View Blog, I see my blog now as before, but with one difference - clicking on the title now takes me to main page view.

Having said that, I note several exceptions.
  • The title is now clickable from every view (no more distinction between main page view, article view, and archive view).
  • The length of the title is critical. See the above setup for my title? Try adding just 2 more characters. One more may add, but a second won't. You won't get an error - unless the necessary character is a control character that affects the syntax, as mine was. Here's a hint: the title of this blog used to be
    The Real Blogger Status - Beta
    Do you see the difference?
  • Look at the entry in the dashboard. Not too neat now. I can live with that, though, to have a clickable title. Can you?
All in all, it's a workaround. But, until BS gives us raw template access, or puts back what should be there in the first place, we're stuck. But this still beats Blogger Alpha.

Know Your Visitors - Beta

This is dead easy.

Adding the code is simple. Go to Template - Page Elements. You can add a separate page element with the code for each meter, or you can arrange the meters (and other miscellaneous objects) side by side in one page element. Look at the bottom of the page on The Real Blogger Status - Beta2, and on Googolians - The Blog. See the SiteMeter and StatCounter objects?

Well, a single object, say SiteMeter, could be dropped right into a new HTML / JavaScript page element, as is, right from SiteMeter. OK, I blanked out a few personal details, with "********", in my example.

<!-- Site Meter --><script src="********" type="text/javascript"></script><noscript><a href="********" target="_top"><img border="0" alt="Site Meter" src="********"/></a></noscript><!-- Copyright (c)2006 Site Meter -->
But, if I want to get fancy, I use nested tables, and put the SiteMeter and StatCounter code side by side.

<table border="0" align="center"><tr><td><table><tr><td width="33%"><!-- Site Meter --><script src="********" type="text/javascript"></script><noscript><a href="********" target="_top"><img border="0" alt="Site Meter" src="********"/></a></noscript><!-- Copyright (c)2006 Site Meter --></td><td width="33%"><script language="javascript" type="text/javascript">var sc_project=********; var sc_invisible=0; var sc_partition=16; var sc_security="********"; </script><script language="javascript" src="" type="text/javascript"></script><noscript><a href="" target="_blank"><img border="0" alt="website hit counter" src="********&java=0&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;security=********&invisible=0"/></a> </noscript><!-- End of StatCounter Code --><br/><a href="********&guest=1">View My Stats</a></td></tr></table></td></tr></table>
Here's how to make a 3 object page element, in the footer, like the one in Googolians - The Blog.
<table border="0" align="center"><tr><td width="90%"><table><tr>
<td width="33%">(whatever you want, in the left cell)</td>
<td width="33%">(whatever you want, in the centre cell)</td>
<td width="33%">(whatever you want, in the right cell)</td>
I know there are other possibilities. Try them. Have fun.

I Want To Try It

My friend Dirty Butter says, in one of her comments
Where can we get a copy to download? I want to play, too!!
Well, you don't download anything. But here's what I did.
  • Setup a Google account - I had my GMail account already. We'll discuss how to get a GMail account separately.
  • Go to Blogger Beta. Sign in with your Google account.
  • Create a new blog. Pick any template, and post a stub.
  • View the blog, copy the URL, and make links to your new blog from your other blogs, forums, wherever. The more inlinks the better.
  • Play with templates, the layout editor (essentially a GUI replacement for the template editor), and have fun. But since you have inlinks, and you know folks are now checking it out (since YOU are leading the way for them), be sure and put content in there that will keep them coming back. Make your visitors happy that they found your blog! Lead the way!!

Next, consider carefully what you want to really do.
  • In my case, I decided to setup a new blog, as The Real Blogger Status - Beta, and keep The Real Blogger Status - Alpha, until it can be safely migrated to a Beta template.
  • I setup static links between each blog and the other, in the sidebar.
  • I setup feeds, to provide a dynamic list of most recent articles, and put the feeds from each into the other.
  • Blogger Alpha can't handle feeds easily, so I created a feed, using Feed Digest, from The Real Blogger Status - Beta, and installed that into the footer in The Real Blogger Status - Alpha.
  • Blogger Beta will let you define a page element and source it directly from a feed. I simply added the native feed from The Real Blogger Status - Alpha, into the sidebar in this case.
Now you can read both my Alpha and Beta blogs, and see a digest of the latest content in the other. And I will continue to liberally link posts in each, to other posts.

Corrupted Template?

This is the first noted reocurrent problem with Blogger Beta.

You may setup your Beta blog from scratch, or you may convert it from Alpha. And you can happily edit it - make posts, rearrange the layout, add page elements - for a while. Then you try to View Blog, and you see
We're sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.
Ongoing stories:
The current workaround appears to be to revert to the classic template.
  • Under Template, select Edit HTML.
If this brings your blog back to visibility, that's a start. But, you will lose several desired features:
  • Drag and drop layout editing.
  • Labels.
So this is not a permanent solution. But work with us, maybe we can help diagnose the problem. And report the problem to Blogger Support (and don't forget to immediately reply to the botmail!).

Friday, August 18, 2006

Yahoo Site Explorer

Yahoo has now producted the Yahoo Site Explorer, which looks, strangely, like the Google SiteMap. Well, it is a bit more user friendly than the Google Sitemap.

It has one major flaw though. It wants us to load a specific file into the root folder of the web site (or in our case, the blog), to prove that it's our blog. But blog "owners" only have access to add files to certain folders, as specified by the blog interface program. We have no ability to add named files to the "root" of the blog.

So what's up, Yahoo? Do you not want blogs to be mapped by your explorer?

Beta Support

No computer system will ever be static. A static system is one that's awaiting replacement. The rollout of a major upgrade can delay the replacement.

The rollout of Blogger Beta - just like any rollout - is bound to bring problems. And with the current Blogger policy of never speaking directly to us (the unpaid Blogger staff), the problems will feel more acute.

So Blogger Support provides Blogger Employee, who periodically visits the Google Blogger Help Forums, like an appearance by Christ on a magic horse.

Trouble In Paradise

Blogger Beta rocks - at least, its feature set and functionality is way better than Blogger Alpha. That doesn't mean that it doesn't have any problems though.

Any time you test a beta version of a product, you have to expect problems. So my bud, Bob in Thailand, converted his blog Roberto's Retreat to Beta. And it looked pretty good, for the first day. But now you can't see it at all. Or at least neither he or I can see it. We can edit the content, but we can't view it in any way.

We're sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.

Needless to say, this sucks. I had briefly considered moving PChuck's Network to Beta - it is badly in need of a face lift (and maybe more), and this would be a great way to start.

But not now.

And yes, I asked Bob
Did you report the problem? And did you reply to the botmail?
And he answered
So now, we wait.

(Edit 8/18 15:15): Bob, take heart. You are not alone. Now, maybe a visit from Blogger Employee.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Welcome to The Real Blogger Status - Beta2.

First Impressions

It took less than a day - and I am seriously hooked.

Between the edit on the fly, the improved Compose mode in blog edit, the ability to make blog layout changes without having to edit the template, and the ability to shift between
  • Blog viewing
  • Blog selection (Dashboard view)
  • Blog editing (Customise view)
without effort, I'm seriously in danger of forgetting HTML coding.

And, as I said in the above article
How many folks are going to be asking
How do I hide the Navbar?
now? Not me, anyway.
I just made a pair of forward - backward links.
  • Typed the above text.
  • Went to Customize - Dashboard, selected the other blog Googolians - The Blog.
  • Found the post of interest.
  • Copied the permalink for the post.
  • Came back here.
  • Added the link to the text above.
  • Published it.
  • Went to View mode in this blog.
  • Copied the permalink for this post
  • Followed the link just added.
  • Went to View mode in the other blog.
  • Went to Update mode in that blog.
  • Added the link to this post.
  • Published that.
  • Back to this blog, and to View mode.
  • Tested the forward and backwards links. Guess what? They work.
It took me longer to type this list (and to edit it with the right details), than to do the work described.