Saturday, March 20, 2010

Blogging About Blogger is a Sin

And I'm a sinner. Still working on downgrading this blog to the layouts format, and finding, slowly, answers to most of my questions. I'm going to go technical to record some of the problems so when I get to Elayne's page I can remember what I did...

0) I set up a dummy blog and imported my classic template into it in order to have a safe sandbox to play in. Google has made it impossible to test edit any other way.

1) Start with the shape of your page. The widgets or gadgets or whatever they are calling them this week are immaterial until you have the layout of page itself fixed up. To do this, you can find a similar layout and switch to it, then strip away everything that doesn't fit. This is the most difficult step, but not the most annoying.

2) Gadgets store the information you really need in a database on Google. This means that you have no access to the code you insert into a gadget unless you go through the rigamarole of opening each gadget individually. This is the most annoying part of downgrading. You cannot simply edit the code within the HTML, it's not stored there.

3) Some prepackaged gadgets don't allow you to format the information in them. This sucks. It makes it very hard to duplicate the look I have on my sidebars. Apparently it's the cool thing to hardcode formats now. I spit on developers who do that with stuff they intend to share. Gadgets would be "cool" if they were more customizable. As it is, many of them are simply unusable.

4) If you want a custom header, you have to delete the default header. You cannot edit it. It will revert back to whatever you edited it from. This is not just annoying, this is maddening. It would have been nice to have a warning on it, or even in the documentation, that it isn't possible to edit it.

4a) You can only delete the worthless default header by deleting it in the HTML editing area. You cannot delete it from the drag 'n' drop window.

5) Download the HTML repeatedly while editing. If you hit a step that destroys your work, you can upload a working copy. Trust me, you will hit a step that destroys your work.

6) If your previous template worked on IE and everything, don't assume it will still work. Test on IE, Opera, and Firefox. If it works on Opera and Firefox, it's a non-compliance bug in IE. Curse Microsoft for their non-compliant browser, and then try to fix it. There are numerous hacks to work around Microsoft's unwillingness to be compliant with browser standards. They are ugly, but having your page display oddly in IE is a poor choice.

7) The good old "conditional tags" from the classic templates have been replaced by poorly documented If/Else statements within widgets. This is annoying, but not impossible. The format for these statements is simply enough. It must be right after the b:includable tag, and be in the format b:if cond='statement' where "statement" is the condition. To make a widget show up only on the main page, the statement is data:blog.pageType == "index". To make it show up on everything except the main page, you change "==" to "!=" like so: data:blog.pageType != "index". The other pageTypes are "archive" and "item".

8) There must be a good tutorial on XML templates somewhere, but I haven't found one that doesn't assume knowledge I don't have. Annoying. Frustrating. Maddening.

Oh well, back to work. I hope this helps when I start to dissect Elayne's template.

Update: Ah, I remember the problem I had before. Because each bit of code is saved in a database, you can't just create a dummy blog and transfer everything over. ARGH!!!!