Thursday, March 24, 2011

The amazing "Configure Blog Posts" controls

Nested away in your blog settings is a control panel for blog posts.

I don't mean the screen for editing individual posts, of which you surely know already; this lets you change the uniform way all of your posts are rendered in your blog.

At stake are things like whether and where to show the date, labels, even title of posts.

Not every feature here is going to be important to everyone. However, there are so many options (Move "posted by" to the top? Or suppress it altogether? Change jump-break-link text?) that I think every blogger should know about these controls.

The only way to see these options is at Layout > Blog Posts > Edit.

The resulting screen has three parts: two generic "Main Page" settings, followed by a long list of sub elements, some enabled by default, that you can turn on or off, followed by a layout section.

In this third section you can arrange those elements by dragging them (mirroring the way you can rearrange sidebar gadgets on Blogger's layout page).

This is one hefty control panel, and you should check it out. Maybe there's some change you can make there that will make your blog even better than it already is.

The amazing "Configure Blog Posts" controls

Nested away in your blog settings is a control panel for blog posts.

I don't mean the screen for editing individual posts, of which you surely know already; this lets you change the uniform way all of your posts are rendered in your blog.

At stake are things like whether and where to show the date, labels, even title of posts.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Edit the elements

Blogger's layout page, at Layout, is the powerful graphical-interface control panel for your blog. There you can add gadgets and even rearrange them just by clicking and dragging.

Perhaps you know that you can also configure those gadgets by clicking their respective "edit" links. But look over at the rectangle labeled "Blog Posts." That's right, you can configure them too.

Every element is a gadget with settings that you control. The options for configuring blog posts are particularly powerful, but you can similarly edit your header, footer (the option is limited and called "Attribution"), even the Navbar.

You can edit the configurations of many of these elements directly from your blog pages. Just click on the tiny screwdriver-and-wrench icon (visibly only to you when logged into your account) at the lower right edge of any gadget to configure.

Blog posts, header, and navbar, however, can only be configured from the Edit Layout page.

Edit the elements

Blogger's layout page, at Layout, is the powerful graphical-interface control panel for your blog. There you can add gadgets and even rearrange them just by clicking and dragging.

Perhaps you know that you can also configure those gadgets by clicking their respective "edit" links. But look over at the rectangle labeled "Blog Posts." That's right, you can configure them too.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Blog elements

In the beginning was the blog, composed of posts.

But there are many other pages and parts of your blog, some added later by Blogger (such as static pages), others generated automatically (such as label searches).

It's handy to know what you can do with these. Here's a field guide.

1. Blog page (home page)
2. Blog post pages (individual post)
4. Archive ("Older Posts") pages
  A. and part 2
5. Label-search pages
6. Static page
7. Search-results pages
8. Header, title & tagline
9. Sidebar
  A. and upper horizontal gadgets area
  B. and lower horizontal gadgets area

APPENDICES
A. Elements common to every page
B. Limits on page size:
  1. Setting limits
  2. Automatic pagenation
  3. Strategies: Your blog on a diet
C. Tabbed navigation
D. Configuring blog elements
  1. Even blog posts themselves
Other blog elements (forthcoming)

Blog elements

In the beginning was the blog, composed of posts.

But there are many other pages and parts of your blog, some added later by Blogger (such as static pages), others generated automatically (such as label searches).

It's handy to know what you can do with these. Here's a field guide.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Better tabbed navigation with link lists, not the Pages gadget

There's an old Vaudeville routine about a man in an airplane and a series of reversals.
Unfortunately--he fell out.
Fortunately--he was wearing a parachute.
Unfortunately--it wouldn't open
and so forth.

The unhappy conclusion:
Fortunately--he missed the pitchfork.
Unfortunately--he missed the haystack.
Well, fortunately, Blogger provides a nifty Pages gadget that automatically lists all of your static pages. Blogger nudges you to set one up if you publish such a page, and if you put it in the horizontal area over your posts, many templates render it as a handy tabbed navigation system.

Navigation gizmos like this can connect readers to your content, making your blog more useful, fun, and, ultimately, popular.

Unfortunately,
that gadget is probably not as useful as it looks. The Pages gadget can only link to static pages, which do not, for many bloggers, live up to their promise. You can't put posts on them for instance, like you can on a label-search page.

Although you can specify what pages to show on your Pages gadget and in what order, you can't have a label on the tab that is different than the title of your page. So if your titles are long, your tabs will not be very tab-like. They may not even fit.

Update: Fortunately, Blogger has a new Pages gadget lets you add non-Pages links, hybrid style. Unfortunately you have to use the inferior new Dashboard interface to get to it. Fortunately, for a limited time you can switch back and forth.

The Link-List Alternative
Fortunately, then, there is a better choice: the link-list gadget. Use it to link to anything on the web, including static pages but also the far-more-useful label-search pages and even other blogs or web pages.

You can specify short tab labels on a link list even with long titles. Just like the Pages gadget a link list will assume the appropriate horizontal appearance (e.g., tabs) when dragged over the posts. (It formats as a list in the sidebar.)

About the only thing Pages does that a link list can't is automatically add static pages.

You can install a link list like most other gadgets, from Layout > Add a Gadget. Scroll down the window that opens to find the link list.

Conclusion
The Pages gadget, like the static pages with which they are so tightly integrated, are specialized and limited.

Only you can decide what is best for your blog, but many bloggers who have installed that Pages gadget would be better off, with happier readers, with a link list that can link to all pages.

Fortunately, the decision is yours.

Update: Blogger is rolling out a better version of the Pages gadget that will let you add custom links just like the link-list gadget does.

The improved version is currently available through the quirky and unpredictably changing Blogger in Draft. Many features introduced there eventually make their way into all of Blogger.

Looks like some day this post will be obsolete.

Better tabbed navigation with link lists, not the Pages gadget

There's an old Vaudeville routine about a man in an airplane and a series of reversals.
Unfortunately--he fell out.
Fortunately--he was wearing a parachute.
Unfortunately--it wouldn't open
and so forth.

The unhappy conclusion:
Fortunately--he missed the pitchfork.
Unfortunately--he missed the haystack.
Well, fortunately, Blogger provides a nifty Pages gadget that automatically lists all of your static pages. Blogger nudges you to set one up if you publish such a page, and if you put it in the horizontal area over your posts, many templates render it as a handy tabbed navigation system.

Navigation gizmos like this can connect readers to your content, making your blog more useful, fun, and, ultimately, popular.

Unfortunately,