Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Archived blog pages: two flavors

There are two kind of archived blog pages, functionally similar enough that I described them together.

There are relative archive posts, reached by clicking the "Older Posts" link at the end of a page.

There are absolute archive posts, reached by clicking a month or week or year in the archive gadget (if installed in the sidebar).

Both hold older posts in Blogger's standard reverse order, most-recent first. Both let you navigate to older and newer archive pages, if any exist.

Here's how these similar pages differ.

Unlike the absolute archive pages, which have a fixed url, the url for each relative page is dynamically generated based on the page from which the page is linked. The url

YOURBLOGNAME.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2010-10-02T10:09:00-04:00

(for example) specifies a blog page that begins from October 2 2010. (The "T10:09:00-04:00" is the time.)

However, if YOURBLOGNAME has the archive gadget installed in the sidebar, clicking on the month of October 2010 links to something like this:

YOURBLOGNAME.blogspot.com/2010_10_01_archive.html

Think of the relative page as being "the next (or previous) bunch of posts" relative to the open page, while the absolute archive is "all the posts of the specified month (or week or other archive period)." It is not a tremendous difference in practice.

If you have gone to Settings > Posts and comments > Show at most and specified a maximum number of posts post per page, this setting will apply to relative archive pages, but not to absolute ones. Note that this setting does not override Blogger's size limit, which applies to every page.

One other peculiarity: you can only click to an absolute archive page from the archive gadget. At the bottom of the absolute page

YOURBLOGNAME.blogspot.com/2010_10_01_archive.html

clicking the Older or Newer link will take you to a relative archive page, not the next absolute one.

You can, however, make your own link to any archive page from a post or gadget.

Finally, there is a third kind of archive page, a dynamic archive page limited by label. This variant of the dynamic archive page presents the archive of a label-search page: "older posts" limited to a particular label.
« Archive pages, part 1 Index Label-search pages »

Archived blog pages: two flavors

There are two kind of archived blog pages, functionally similar enough that I described them together.

There are relative archive posts, reached by clicking the "Older Posts" link at the end of a page.

There are absolute archive posts, reached by clicking a month or week or year in the archive gadget (if installed in the sidebar).

Both hold older posts in Blogger's standard reverse order, most-recent first. Both let you navigate to older and newer archive pages, if any exist.

Here's how these similar pages differ.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Archived blog pages

In the beginning was the blog, composed of posts.

Add enough content (and it does not take much), and your posts will overflow off the main blog page and into the archive.

Click "older posts" after the last post on your page to see the next-recent batch of posts. Your readers can navigate all of your content this way, by clicking on older and newer.

You can reach a second kind of archive page though the Archive gadget--all the posts within a month or week.

Both pages list posts in reverse-chronological order and have links to older and newer content.

Both are subject to Blogger's absolute size limit (although it will always include at least one post no matter how big). This is measured in kilobytes of data served, applies automatically, and cannot be changed.

Posts that would, if included, exceed the limit are just bumped to the next archive page. No big deal really--just remember that each post is its own discrete thing, that will be strung together with all of the other posts in reverse order, latest first.

The differences between these two kinds of archived pages are minor, and are detailed here.
«Post pages Index More on archive pages »

Archived blog pages

In the beginning was the blog, composed of posts.

Add enough content (and it does not take much), and your posts will overflow off the main blog page and into the archive.

Click "older posts" after the last post on your page to see the next-recent batch of posts. Your readers can navigate all of your content this way, by clicking on older and newer.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Post pages for blog posts

In the beginning was the blog page, but later on each blog post got its own page too.

The user option at Settings > Archiving > Enable Post Pages gives each of your posts a unique web address (which Blogger generates automatically). This is useful for many reasons--for one thing, you and others can link directly to any post--and most bloggers should leave it enabled.

A related option, at Settings > Comments > Comment Form Placement > Embedded Below Post, lets you put the commenting form on the page, if you've left post pages enabled.

If you use Blogger's jump break (as I do) to truncate your posts with a "read more" link, only the first, pre-break part will show on other blog pages (main page, label-search page, etc.) with the link. Meanwhile, the entire post will appear on its post page, with no sign of where you put the jump.

These posts are the true building blocks of your blog.
« Blog page Index Archive pages »

Post pages for blog posts

In the beginning was the blog page, but later on each blog post got its own page too.

The user option at Settings > Archiving > Enable Post Pages gives each of your posts a unique web address (which Blogger generates automatically). This is useful for many reasons--for one thing, you and others can link directly to any post--and most bloggers should leave it enabled.

A related option, at Settings > Comments > Comment Form Placement > Embedded Below Post, lets you put the commenting form on the page, if you've left post pages enabled.

If you use Blogger's jump break (as I do) to truncate your posts with a "read more" link, only the first, pre-break part will show on other blog pages (main page, label-search page, etc.) with the link. Meanwhile, the entire post will appear on its post page, with no sign of where you put the jump.

These posts are the true building blocks of your blog.
« Blog page Index Archive pages »

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Your blog page (home page)

In the beginning was the blog, composed of posts.

The blog page, or home page, shows your most-recent posts in classic backwards order, last-first. Your readers see this page first when they navigate to your blog at its root address.

Many new bloggers want, or think they want, a static home page with a link to their blog page, and there are a fair number of tricks and hacks to achieve something like that.

However, Blogger is not set up to provide a static home page, and it is worth understanding the editorial rationale for starting with your most recent blog post.

Simply put, readers have short attention spans and it is usually better to immerse them in your freshest work right away rather than make them read some introduction. Returning readers in particular will not like have to scroll or click past the same old thing every time they visit your site.

In any case, unless you hack your site, the conventional blog page is what your readers will see first. Two considerations follow from that:
  • Give special care that the first few paragraphs of every post are well-written and engaging. These words will, for a time, be the first thing your readers see.
  • Use sidebar gadgets to promote and link to older content. For example, the Archive gadget can list all of your posts by month; you can link to your favorite posts with a links or text gadget; you can feature recent comments by readers.
Blogger generates your blog page dynamically and you do not control fully how it looks. There is an absolute limit on the size of all generated blog pages based on the amount of data Blogger loads to serve it on the internet.

Once you hit that limit, Blogger will automatically end the page and bump older content to subsequent archive pages (reachable by a link at the end of the page).

Finally, Blogger orders these posts in reverse chronological order by date published, on the freshest-first theory. This does not always answer.

The most popular remedy, and the easiest, is to change posting dates to achieve the desired order. For another workaround, see here.

Next: Post pages.
Index Post pages »

Your blog page (home page)

In the beginning was the blog, composed of posts.

The blog page, or home page, shows your most-recent posts in classic backwards order, last-first. Your readers see this page first when they navigate to your blog at its root address.

Many new bloggers want, or think they want, a static home page with a link to their blog page, and there are a fair number of tricks and hacks to achieve something like that.

However, Blogger is not set up to provide a static home page, and it is worth understanding the editorial rationale for starting with your most recent blog post.

Simply put, readers have short attention spans and it is usually better to immerse them in your freshest work right away rather than make them read some introduction. Returning readers in particular will not like have to scroll or click past the same old thing every time they visit your site.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

When your blog journey is cut short

When I converted my feed from Short to Jump Break, I hit an unexpected wall involving the blog-journey hack that lets you show your content in chronological order.

I've vaulted over the wall since (and you can too, if necessary), but here is the story.

When I ran the feed of my pipe run through the script host at Feed2js.org, I discovered that the blog-journey it made stopped short a year and a half in.

Apparently there is a hidden size limit built into the blog-journey hack. Size as in kilobytes of data served, not number of posts or anything to do with the dates of the posts.

It might be different for another blog, but for mine the greater number of photos in my Jump-Break feed versus my Short feed bumped into this limit, which seems to be around 500 kb. Anything over that is left off.

Note that a Full feed would hit the limit even sooner.

This limit seems to be built into the javascript host I recommend, feed2js.org. I assume this arbitrary limit was introduced to keep the servers from being swamped, based on the theory that no one could possibly need or want more than 500 kb of feed. (Have I got news for them!)

The limit does not come from the pipes I've set up for this hack. Nor is it built into Blogger, which does not bat an eye if multiple blog-journey scripts are put on a single static blog page.

And therein lies the solution: multiple scripts, segmented by date.

Feed2js is not the only such service on the web, but the others I have tried do not handle formatting as well. Please post a comment or an email if you find a better option.

I truly regret this hidden limit, but am pleased to provide a simple workaround. (Which is up and running on the blog-journey page of my other blog.)

When your blog journey is cut short

When I converted my feed from Short to Jump Break, I hit an unexpected wall involving the blog-journey hack that lets you show your content in chronological order.

I've vaulted over the wall since (and you can too, if necessary), but here is the story.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Blogger's new jump-break-feed option

Bloggers can now set their feeds to end at the jump break while preserving most formatting and hypertext markup.

The new Feed option, which Blogger announced on December 9, is in addition to the the Full and Short options, which are still available. From my point of view, however, it is superior to the old choices in nearly every way. I urge all bloggers who care about feeds to check it out.

Until now, bloggers have had to choose between short feeds that are stripped of all formatting and links versus full feeds that comprise the entire blog.

Blogger software engineer Ben Eitzen details how the new jump-break feed works and how to chose it here.

Feeds are integral to many blogger hacks and tweaks, including the Blog Journey hack that lets you show your blog in chronological order. Applying this hack to Full feeds is fundamentally simpler than to Short feeds, but some bloggers (including me) prefer not to broadcast their entire blog posts to followers and subscribers.

Right now it appears as though the new option offers the best of both, a shorter feed that retains all inline formating and markup, including images. As a bonus, it plays very nicely with the Blog Journey hack: blogger can use it with the Full Feed pipe, which requires no tweaking or Pipes account.

Inline formatting includes bold, italic, line returns, tables, and images. It does not include formatting that is applied by the blog template, such as the size and color and typeface of the text.

For the Blog Journey hack, this new choice sounds superior in almost every way to the Short feed. I have already switched the feed of this blog to Jump Break to test things out. If it works as advertised I will be adding the option to my documentation of the Blog Journey hack soon.

Blogger's new jump-break-feed option

Bloggers can now set their feeds to end at the jump break while preserving most formatting and hypertext markup.

The new Feed option, which Blogger announced on December 9, is in addition to the the Full and Short options, which are still available. From my point of view, however, it is superior to the old choices in nearly every way. I urge all bloggers who care about feeds to check it out.

Until now, bloggers have had to choose between short feeds that are stripped of all formatting and links versus full feeds that comprise the entire blog.

Blogger software engineer Ben Eitzen details how the new jump-break feed works and how to chose it here.