Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tackling Blogger Beta

Sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind, eh? After much hemming and hawing because of the many horror stories and naysayers, this blog has finally been converted to the new Blogger Beta as of yesterday. This means we'll have the benefit of properly functioning category links (Blogger calls them "labels") in the sidebar as we go forward. I intend to gradually add labels to the older posts as time and willpower allows.

My big hesitation with switching mostly had to do with figuring out how to get my custom header (it's merely a jpeg image) in place of the generic Blogger heading. I couldn't find any clear instructions on how to do this, but I pieced together bits from here and there combined with a little tinkering on my own and got it to work.

For those who are interested, these are the tricks I used: In Beta, go to "edit html." Find b:widget id='Header1' locked='true' and change "true" to "false." This will allow a "remove element" button when the standard header is being edited on the template page elements sub-tab. To get rid of the prefabricated rectangle that contains your snappy blog title and allow the custom header to take over this space, remove the /* Blog Header section all the way down to font: $ description Font;} . You can increase the number of elements allowed in the header area by finding maxwidgets="1" in the code for the header and replacing the one with, for example, two. Once the code changes were in place, all I had to do was add an HTML/JavaScript element at the top, using the img src code with the URL of my header.

Thus far, I love the ease of use — especially the instant saving of changes. It hasn't been as tedious as I'd feared, as the sidebar was largely preserved in the migration and upgrade to layouts, as was all the formatting of individual posts. Only the "recent comments" hack was lost. Also, I had to re-add my counter code in the new template html.

// Update 12.16.06 //

A few people asked for more details on how to add the custom header, including the owner of this nice blog. I'm happy to share the "how-to" notes I made for myself when I did it. Just drop me an e-mail via my profile page.

At this point, I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't switch to Beta, as it is now feature-complete, and Blogger has dropped the hint that everyone will soon be using the new version.

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