I wish I’d known how much better WordPress is than Google Blogger before spending all that effort on the latter. Some quick highlights:
- A real programming language (PHP) rather than some lame imitation which doesn’t even have proper flow control structures. Of course this also means it’s very easy to set cookies, use CGI parameters etc.
- More more out-of-the-box flexibility and functionality on the backend
- Unbelievably easy to set up on my own webserver
- Over 4000 plugins! including ones for SyntaxHighlighter and Google Analytics
- Countless themes, many of which support fluid width content columns.
So I’m totally sold; now I just have to make different RSS feeds available for my different audiences (none of which exist yet…)
Just in case it’s useful to anyone, here’s how I publish my cycling routes in my blog. I record the routes on my great G1 Google phone which runs Android, using the great MyTracks application from Android Market. Once the route is recorded and I get back home, I do the following:
- In MyTracks, copy the track to SD card as a KML file
- Plug the phone in via USB and mount the SD card’s filesystem
- Copy the KML file from the
kml directory to a local directory.
- Open the KML file in an editor, search for
7f0000ff (light orange) and change it to
ffcc66cc (purple) or something more visible
- Ensure the track name is correct
- Go to http://maps.google.co.uk/ (ensuring I’m signed into my google account)
- Click “My Maps”
- Click “Create new map”
- Click “Import” and upload the KML file
- Edit the route if necessary and save changes.
- Sometimes it’s necessary to click on another route and back to this new one, in order to make the “View in Google Earth” link appear.
- Copy the URL of the “View in Google Earth” KML link and paste it into the Google Maps *search* bar (yes that’s right, *not* your browser address bar)
- Click “Link” near the top right
- Share the link with friends and/or paste the embeddable HTML into a new blog post.
The copy of the “View in Google Earth” KML link back into the search bar in step 12 is necessary to stop Google Maps from splitting the route up into multiple pages, which would only show shorter segments (“lines”) of the overall route at one time.
The ultimate goal here was filtering of posts based on inclusion (or even better, exclusion) of posts with certain labels. (Read this post first for context.)
[Update: before you think about imitating the following approach, you should know that I gave up with Blogger and switched to WordPress which is far more flexible and easy to hack.]
Unfortunately it turns out that Blogger’s XML-based template layout system is not quite as flexible as it first seems. It’s almost superb, but has some key omissions:
- Flow control is limited to
<b:loop>. Crucially, you can’t break out of a loop.
- No writable variables of any kind.
- Conditional testing via
<b:cond> is extremely limited. I kept expecting to find some comprehensive documentation for the
xmlns:expr namespace (which is used via things like
<a expr:href='data:blog.homepageUrl + "search/label/foo"'>), but it doesn’t exist, simply because all you can really do is simple comparisons using a limited set of data and hardcoded strings.
- There are no string-handling functions, and you can’t get access to the current
QUERY_STRING to do any kind of parametrisation (for example, show some HTML saying which label you are currently viewing based on what comes after
/search/label/ in the current URL).
- The box generated by the status-message includable is hardcoded to either be invisible or say “Showing label foo. Show all posts”. It cannot be customised.
Continue reading 'Hacking Blogger templates'»
I lead double lives. Most of my friends and family know I do “computer stuff”, but have little clue what that actually involves. I want to be able to blog not only about music, triathlon etc. but also about (often deeply technical) computer stuff without causing normal people to run away screaming. So the question is, should I set up two separate blogs, or do it all in one but use some Google Blogger hackery with labels and templates to hide the geek stuff from the default view?
Continue reading 'Two blogs or not two blogs?'»