Wednesday, May 19, 2010

First things first: putting your blog in order

A new method for showing blog content in chronological order.

Update: I am sorry to say that this method no longer works because of the demise of Yahoo Pipes, a web service that allowed bloggers to sort their blog feed.

It was, briefly, the state of the art, in a mad-scientist sort of way.

There are still several other valid, if unintuitive, ways to show blog content in chronological order.

This hack was my first venture into messing around with Blogger's plumbing. It was Rube Goldberg, it was spit-and-chickenwire; it was in every way too clever by half, and now it has suffered the final fate of all things clever in that way. 

I will indulge my sentimentality by not deleting the many posts I sweated over back in 2010, but they are useless to you. If you want to reorder your blog posts, check out one of the remaining methods

Blogging is classically about the Latest Thing, featuring the most recent post first. Scroll down to read everything backwards.

For bloggers, however, blogging is also a journey, and some would like to be able to show their content that way, in chronological order.

The standard method for doing this is to edit the post date, which controls the order that posts appear, giving all posts fictitious dates to achieve the desired order. This does the job but might be unsatisfying for a number of reasons.

I've worked up an alternative method that might appeal to some bloggers.

Update: There are now a number of ways to do this and mine is not necessarily the best. Read this post for a comparison of leading blog-journey hacks

In a nutshell my workaround entails the following steps:
  1. publishing your blog as a feed;
  2. using Yahoo Pipes to re-order the feed and introduce some formatting elements, then publishing that as a second feed;
  3. using a service like to convert the feed to javascript
  4. Pasting the javascript code on a static blog page (that part is easy)
  5. Adding some custom CSS to your blog's template to format the elements of the feed as they are rendered on the static page.
This solution entails multiple steps and may include some unfamiliar methods, but if you are game I have done most of the work for you and will guide you every step of the way. No knowledge of javascript is required; it's all done for you.

For an example of what is possible using this method, see (a) the "journey" page of this blog (unformatted) or (b) of my "real" blog (formatted).

You might also prefer just a list of your blog posts in order, which is simpler still.

Further explanation in subsequent posts.

Update: As of 2012, there is another method for flipping blog-post order that is very promising. Interested bloggers should check it out.

I am just a blogger, not some uber-hacker, and would like to thank the Yahoo Pipes help forum and also Vin, a technically astute blogger who generously gives advice on Blogger's help forum from time to time. Vin first told me about Yahoo Pipes (for a much simpler application) a few years ago.

Final note: This was a lot of work, and I hope Blogger will continue to allow bloggers to post javascript code into our blogs.

On the other hand, I am sure that Blogger could implement a blog-journey option that would knock the socks off this hack in terms of flexibility and ease of use, and I would not resent it at all if they did so.

Next: Getting your feed


  1. Really terrible that you have to do this and that it's not a feature yet. Looking for another blog host just because of this.

  2. JC, there's a lot to be said for the classical blog model--most recent first, scroll down to read backwards. However, I don't see what Blogger would lose by having other options.

    I don't think a change is in the cards, though, so if you need to move, best of luck with the transition. Or if you like give my hack a try.

  3. A big thanks to Adam for his wisdom, however, that's messy & I update my blog via email submit, so, a "blog-journey" option would be fantastic and come on guys, it's GOOGLE.... hardly difficult for them!!!


  4. As I said above, I would be delighted if Blogger made this hack obsolete.

    In the mean time it should work just fine with email submit, btw.

  5. You boys are way ahead of me.
    I'm from the Jurassic Era and trying to put a blog together as a review of work I've done for a Diploma to use as a resume. We used Blogger during the course study on Web 2.0 technologies and I have a rudimentary understanding of html coding but it's harder than it looks to say the least.
    I shall persevere and thanks for your help.
    Happy Holidays from Sydney, Australia.

  6. Sandra from Sydney: We boys (just me, actually)--any way, the whole crew here strives always to make this workaround useful to an intelligent lay person such as yourself. I avoid tech talk as much as possible.

    The feedback I've gotten is that this is easier to implement than it sounds. I hope that is true for you too.

    By the way, I am about to add something to this hack, namely the ability to break your journey into chunks by date. That could be useful for blogs with many posts.

    Meanwhile please post any questions here or at Blogger's help forums. I'll try to answer and also might use them to improve my step-by-step here.

  7. Sir.1. Great hit. Simply without any code. Using it. Many many thanks. But how nice it would be, without date scheduling and with options in edit post etc via dashboard. 2. Any way for reverse order of comments page ? Thank You with Regards.

  8. IFinder, I am glad you have found this useful. I agree, Blogger could do it better!

    As for comments: Showing all comments all together in order would be trivial. Just run the comments feed through my pipe.

    To do it for each comment thread--for each post--that's beyond me, sorry. You could ask at the Blogger help forum.

  9. I just want to let you know after you solved my problem, it worked beautifully. I have a list of my posts where people can easily read through them. I linked back to you. Thanks so much for doing this.

  10. But Doctor: I am glad it works for you. And thanks back to you too, by the way, since your "problem" (feed issues) prompted me to write this post, which has since been useful to other people.

    By the way, I see that you are only showing post titles (and dates) on your last-first page. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I hope you know that you could show your entire feed if you like.

  11. I did this entire thing, and the posted the code in my page and they do all show, but there is a bit blog journey full and jump or whatever it says paragraph at the top. How do I remove that? I want to use this for two things, one of which is for my work so even if I didn't mind it on my personal site, I need it to not be on that one. Can you let me know how to do this?

  12. Littlekariblue, "blog journey full" is the title of the feed "channel" and you can exclude it from your script using the settings at feed2js.

    See my suggested feed2js settings in this post.

    I agree it is obnoxious but you can leave it off. I do. Let me know how it goes.

  13. too much complication... i will wait for blogger to give a new feature..

    1. @ocho, fair enough! Your money cheerfully refunded.

  14. From the blog host perspective, it would be about a 15 minute change. An option button and a sort.

    1. @andrew, I dont know that it is exactly simple, but certainly Google could do it if they wanted to.

      Just to be fair, here's the case for not reversing your blog-post order.

  15. When I want to format the blog as a sequential story line, I just make the whole story all in one post. When you add to the story don't hit 'New Post', just continue the original entry and hit 'Update'. I don't know what the limit is to any one post, but I have entered 200+ photos and text, no problem. To convert an earlier blog that was done with the latest at the top of the page, just start at the earliest post at the beginning and cut the text and photos and paste them to the current page then hit 'Update', then keep doing this, pasting all the rest of the entries to the current page. This has worked well for me on many stories.

    1. Hi John,

      I am glad this works for you. I could never recommend it to others, though, for a whole host of reasons. It seems to me to miss the benefits of having a blog of posts.

      This particular hack broke when Yahoo discontinued its delightful (and useful) Pipes service. There are other methods that work pretty well, however, while retaining the flexibility, findability, and shareability of the blog format.