Welcome to The Real Blogger Status - Beta. Please note the warnings (as of 6/13: 0 active), and the alerts (as of 1/10/2007: 5 active).

Please be aware of the naming variances in this blog. You will find various references to "Classic" / "Old Template 2006" Blogger, and to "Beta" / "New Template 2006" Blogger.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Raw HTML Editing In Template

This is now available. I am crossing my fingers, and adding a Google Sitemap to my blog.

Here is the relevant portion of the template (details omitted, to prevent the old post / sidebar alignment problem.

<meta content='.......' name='description'/>
<meta content='.......' name='keywords'/>
<META content='.......' name='verify-v1'/>

So far, it's been accepted by the Google Sitemap wizard. Plus, I did a View - Page Source in Firefox, and the new meta records seem to parse properly.
You have added a Sitemap to http://bloggerstatusforrealbeta.blogspot.com/. Reports may take several hours to update. Thank you for your patience!

(Edit 8/30 21:45): Close, but no cigar. The Atom feed looks great, from Sage. But, looking at my Google Webmasters display, I see
Line: 1 Incorrect namespace
Your Sitemap or Sitemap index file doesn't properly declare the namespace. [?] Tag:
Line: 1 URL not allowed
This url is not allowed for a Sitemap at this location. [?] Url:
Line: 1 URL not allowed
This url is not allowed for a Sitemap at this location. [?] Url:

More work tomorrow. :(

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Migration From Blogger Classic To Blogger Beta

I have several Blogger blogs, among the various websites and other web presences that I maintain. Two of my biggest blogs - PChuck's Network, and The Real Blogger Status - simply can't be migrated, given the current level of problems, and of design deficiencies, in Blogger Beta. The latter blog, which I call RBS, absolutely won't be migrated until there are no more Classic blogs. Maybe it won't be migrated at all.

How can I continue, without developing RBS, even after everybody else takes the plunge and moves forward? Simple - I have RBS Beta, in addition to RBS Classic. RBS Beta will contain all issues specifically related to Blogger Beta. Now eventually, RBS Beta will contain most of the content that I write, relevant to blogging. But RBS Classic isn't going to disappear.

I'll retain both blogs, and in the tradition of the web, use static hyperlinks between the two, in various mirrored posts. And I'll use dynamic digests, from syndicated feeds. Portions of the most current 5 to 7 posts, in either blog, will be visible in the other.

I used FeedDigest, which takes the syndicated (Atom) feed from each blog, creates a custom feed with the title and a small amount of content, from each post, and makes a small feedlet in javascript. I put the feedlet from each blog, into the template of the other.

  • I setup RBS Classic, and added a feed from RBS Beta.
    • Into the template (editing the HTML) for RBS Classic, I put the FeedDigest feedlet from RBS Beta.
    • I installed that into the footer of the blog, right below the end of the posts.
    • I put an anchor tag at the top of the footer.
    • In the Sidebar, under Key Articles, I added a link labeled "Real Blogger Status - Beta Feed", which jumps me straight to the anchor tag, and to the bottom of the page.
    • See the details, if you like.
    • .
  • I setup RBS Beta, and added a feed from RBS Classic.
    • Into the template (using the GUI Page Layout editor) for RBS Beta, I added a Page Element (HTML/Javascript), in the footer.
    • The FeedDigest feedlet went straight into the new page element, which was placed right after the bottom of the posts.
    • I put an anchor tag at the top of the page element code, in the title of the element.
    • In the Sidebar, under Links, I added a link labeled "Real Blogger Status - Classic Feed", which jumps me straight to the anchor tag and the bottom of the page.
    • See the details, if you like.
    • .
The dynamic feeds will simply complement the static links. I use a lot of static links in all of my blogs. Without hyperlinks, my blogs would be a bit less useful.

In some IT migration strategies, this is called a bridge. I suspect that this looks complicated, at first glance. It was simpler to do, than to write about. The whole job took maybe an hour. Writing this, with the examples, took an entire evening, and then some.

Migration Feed Example - RBS Classic, with a feed from RBS Beta

I setup an account at FeedDigest, and created a custom feed from The Real Blogger Status - Beta.
  • Here's the code provided to me by FeedDigest.
    <script type="text/javascript" src="http://app.feeddigest.com/digest3/UZULGEIPQN.js"><noscript><a href="http://app.feeddigest.com/digest3/UZULGEIPQN.html">Click for "The Real Blogger Status".</a> By <a href="http://www.feeddigest.com/">Feed Digest</a></noscript></script>

  • Here's what it looks like, coded in the template of The Real Blogger Status - Classic (with various line breaks added, to prevent the old post / sidebar alignment problem).
    <hr />
    <p align=center>
    <a name="BridgeFeed"><strong>
    The Real Blogger Status - Beta</strong></a>
    <script type="text/javascript" src="http://app.feeddigest.com/digest3/UZULGEIPQN.js">
    <noscript><a href="http://app.feeddigest.com/digest3/UZULGEIPQN.html">
    Click for "RBS Beta7".</a> By <a href="http://www.feeddigest.com/">
    Feed Digest</a></noscript></script>
    <hr />

  • Here's what it looks like, at the bottom of The Real Blogger Status - Classic.

Migration Feed Example - RBS Beta, with a feed from RBS Classic

I likewise created a custom feed from The Real Blogger Status - Classic.
  • Here's the code provided to me by FeedDigest.

    <script type="text/javascript" src="http://app.feeddigest.com/digest3/PEXJUYD3JV.js"><noscript><a href="http://app.feeddigest.com/digest3/PEXJUYD3JV.html">Click for "The Real Blogger Status".</a> By <a href="http://www.feeddigest.com/">Feed Digest</a></noscript></script>

  • I created a HTML / Javascript page element, using the Beta Layout Editor, and added that to the bottom of the page. I copied the FeedDigest code into the new element.

  • Here's what it looks like, at the bottom of The Real Blogger Status - Beta.

Meta Records

Anybody with serious ambition for his / her blog wants the blogs to be indexed by search engines. Making your blog (website) search engine friendly is a key issue in many forums.

One of the essential ingredients involved in that goal is the use of meta records. Whether for search engines in general, or for Google Sitemap in particular, meta records are essential. For the former, you'll add 2 meta name records - description and keywords; for the latter, you'll add 1 meta name record - verify-v1.

But meta records have to be installed in the non-visible portion of the template. Without raw template edit ability, this does not seem possible.

If anybody knows that I'm wrong, or has a workaround for this situation, please speak up.

(Edit 8/30 21:00): Raw template edit ability is now available. It does have its limitations, though.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Login Problems

Possibly the biggest problem with Blogger Beta, right now, is the confusion over authentication. Under classic Blogger, you could have a Blogger account, with an account name. That account could be tied to any email account, with any email service. By default, Blogger Beta ties your Blogger access to a Google email address.

  • Blogger Beta
  • Google Adsense
  • Google Groups
  • Google Mail
  • Google Talk
  • Google Sitemaps
What happens if you want to switch accounts for various reasons?

One of the desired features in Blogger blogs was the ability to restrict access, ie allow only authenticated users to view a blog. Google decided to include this feature in its Beta Blog release, and decided to use Google accounts for the authentication. Unfortunately, this creates a problem with people who are currently authenticated using Blogger accounts. And Classic blogs likewise have trouble with people who are authenticating only with Google accounts.

Remember, you can have any Google account managing your blogs, within limits.

I suspect that there is some possibility for account confusion, among the Google services. Blogger Employee seems to consider this possibility. And Blogger Buzz: Beta Update! (look for "Login trouble" - they don't use anchor tags) describes issues that are relevant here too.

>> Top

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Guess What?

The Real Blogger Status Beta joined the ranks of the unhappy Bloggers, but just temporarily.

In my case, it was a feed problem. I removed 2 feeds, saved settings, and it's back online.

And I reported the problem to Blogger Support. Just got a reply, which looks to be from a person:

Thanks for letting us know about this bug with Blogger in beta. You were receiving this error due to Blogger not recognizing the URL you you entered into the Feed page element as a valid feed URL. We're looking into it and hope to have it fixed as soon as possible. In the meantime, to avoid this problem simply remove this page element from your blog and it should appear correctly. We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience.

The Blogger Team

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Lost Blog

Converted one or more blogs, and was using them happily as Beta. Then tried to convert others, and previously converted ones have disappeared.

Only solution, per Blogger Employee, is to contact Blogger Support, and wait.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Blogger Beta Design Deficiencies

Unlike actual Beta Problems, these are issues which will not prevent anybody from using a Beta blog. They will still prevent many people from migrating a current Classic blog to Beta.

  • Any blog with a future needs to be search engine friendly. This involves installation of meta records into the non-visible portion of the template. Without raw template editing ability, this does not appear to be possible.
  • The title bar, which has always been clickable to return the viewer from article view to main page view, is not provided that way. The title can be made clickable, but not cleanly so. (Edit 9/2): Apparently, this has been fixed.
  • The biggest single deficiency is the lack of ability to edit the raw template code. The Layout GUI is nice, and a utility long needed. But GUI editing can go only so far. Any blogs which have any style will need raw template editing.
    (Edit 8/30): We now have editing of the raw template code. What we can do with it remains to be seen.
Keep watching here.

Blogger Beta Problems

Unlike Beta Design Deficiencies, these problems actually prevent use of many Beta blogs. Many complaints are active over these issues.

I'll update this list the best I can, but it will probably reflect yours and my observations. Don't depend upon any notices from Blogger - because Blogger doesn't tell us anything, to any degree of reliability.

Restore The Main Page Link To The Title

For every seasoned Blogger, whenever you setup a Blogger Alpha blog, and go to view an individual article, selecting the title of the blog would always get you back to main page view. That is one of the most standard features in any Alpha blog.

Not so with Beta. And since you can't edit the template, you're stuck. Right?

Wrong. You can't edit the template itself - raw template access isn't provided. But you can edit the individual page elements.

Go into Template - Page Elements, and edit the element with the title in it. In my case, I find

The Real Blogger Status Beta
and I select the Edit link. I see the Configure Header window. It has the Blog Title
The Real Blogger Status Beta
I add a hypertext link, and make it
<a href="http://bloggerstatusforrealbeta.blogspot.com/index.html">The Real Blogger Status Beta</a>
select SAVE CHANGES then SAVE. When I select View Blog, I see my blog now as before, but with one difference - clicking on the title now takes me to main page view.

Having said that, I note several exceptions.
  • The title is now clickable from every view (no more distinction between main page view, article view, and archive view).
  • The length of the title is critical. See the above setup for my title? Try adding just 2 more characters. One more may add, but a second won't. You won't get an error - unless the necessary character is a control character that affects the syntax, as mine was. Here's a hint: the title of this blog used to be
    The Real Blogger Status - Beta
    Do you see the difference?
  • Look at the entry in the dashboard. Not too neat now. I can live with that, though, to have a clickable title. Can you?
All in all, it's a workaround. But, until BS gives us raw template access, or puts back what should be there in the first place, we're stuck. But this still beats Blogger Alpha.

(Edit 9/2): While surfing, I just noticed that many blogs don't have this limitation any more. Another fix provided in silence.

Know Your Visitors - Beta

This is dead easy.

Adding the code is simple. Go to Template - Page Elements. You can add a separate page element with the code for each meter, or you can arrange the meters (and other miscellaneous objects) side by side in one page element. Look at the bottom of the page on The Real Blogger Status - Beta, and on Googolians - The Blog. See the SiteMeter and StatCounter objects?

(Note): This post has been migrated to (and improved in) The Real Blogger Status: Know Your Visitors.

Well, a single object, say SiteMeter, could be dropped right into a new HTML / JavaScript page element, as is, right from SiteMeter. OK, I shortened a few lines, with "********", and inserted line breaks, to prevent the old post / sidebar alignment problem.

<!-- Site Meter --><script src="http://s26.sitemeter.com/js/counter.js?site=********" type="text/javascript"></script><noscript><a href="http://s26.sitemeter.com/stats.asp?site=********" target="_top"><img border="0" alt="Site Meter" src="http://s26.sitemeter.com/meter.asp?site=********"/>
<!-- Copyright (c)2006 Site Meter -->
But, if I want to get fancy, I use nested tables, and put the SiteMeter and StatCounter code side by side.

<table border="0" align="center"><tr><td><table><tr><td width="33%"><!-- Site Meter --><script src="http://s26.sitemeter.com/js/counter.js?site=********" type="text/javascript"></script><noscript><a href="http://s26.sitemeter.com/stats.asp?site=********" target="_top"><img border="0" alt="Site Meter" src="http://s26.sitemeter.com/meter.asp?site=********"/>
<!-- Copyright (c)2006 Site Meter --></td><td width="33%"><script language="javascript" type="text/javascript">var sc_project=********; var sc_invisible=0; var sc_partition=16; var sc_security="********"; </script><script language="javascript" src="http://www.statcounter.com/counter/counter.js" type="text/javascript"></script><noscript><a href="http://www.statcounter.com/" target="_blank"><img border="0" alt="website hit counter" src="http://c17.statcounter.com/counter.php?
security=********&invisible=0"/></a> </noscript><!-- End of StatCounter Code --><br/><a href="http://my.statcounter.com/project/standard/stats.php?
>View My Stats</a></td></tr></table></td></tr></table>
Here's how to make a 3 object page element, in the footer, like the one in Googolians - The Blog.
<table border="0" align="center"><tr><td width="90%"><table><tr>
<td width="33%">(whatever you want, in the left cell)</td>
<td width="33%">(whatever you want, in the centre cell)</td>
<td width="33%">(whatever you want, in the right cell)</td>
I know there are other possibilities. Try them. Have fun.

I Want To Try It

My friend Dirty Butter says, in one of her comments

Where can we get a copy to download? I want to play, too!!
Well, you don't download anything. But here's what I did.
  • Setup a Google account - I had my GMail account already. We'll discuss how to get a GMail account separately.
  • Go to Blogger Beta. Sign in with your Google account.
  • Create a new blog. Pick any template, and post a stub.
  • View the blog, copy the URL, and make links to your new blog from your other blogs, forums, wherever. The more inlinks the better.
  • Play with templates, the layout editor (essentially a GUI replacement for the template editor), and have fun. But since you have inlinks, and you know folks are now checking it out (since YOU are leading the way for them), be sure and put content in there that will keep them coming back. Make your visitors happy that they found your blog! Lead the way!!

Next, consider carefully what you want to really do.
  • In my case, I decided to setup a new blog, as The Real Blogger Status - Beta, and keep The Real Blogger Status - Alpha, until it can be safely migrated to a Beta template.
  • I setup static links between each blog and the other, in the sidebar.
  • I setup feeds, to provide a dynamic list of most recent articles, and put the feeds from each into the other.
  • Blogger Alpha can't handle feeds easily, so I created a feed, using Feed Digest, from The Real Blogger Status - Beta, and installed that into the footer in The Real Blogger Status - Alpha.
  • Blogger Beta will let you define a page element and source it directly from a feed. I simply added the native feed from The Real Blogger Status - Alpha, into the sidebar in this case.
Now you can read both my Alpha and Beta blogs, and see a digest of the latest content in the other. And I will continue to liberally link posts in each, to other posts.

Corrupted Template?

This is the first noted reocurrent problem with Blogger Beta.

You may setup your Beta blog from scratch, or you may convert it from Alpha. And you can happily edit it - make posts, rearrange the layout, add page elements - for a while. Then you try to View Blog, and you see

We're sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.
Ongoing stories:
If you're lucky, this may involve a simple fix. Did you add syndicated feeds recently? It appears that bad feeds will cause this problem.

If removing feeds didn't solve your problem, you'll have to revert to the classic template.
  • Under Template, select Edit HTML.
If this brings your blog back to visibility, that's a start. But, you will lose several desired features:
  • Drag and drop layout editing.
  • Labels.
So this is not a permanent solution. But work with us, maybe we can help diagnose the problem. And report the problem to Blogger Support (and don't forget to immediately reply to the botmail!).

(Edit 9/7): Beta Known Issues reports this as fixed.

(Edit 9/14): A new version of this error is occuring.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Yahoo Site Explorer

Yahoo has now provided for us the Yahoo Site Explorer, which looks, strangely, like the Google SiteMap. Well, it is a bit more user friendly than the Google Sitemap.

It has one major flaw though. It wants us to load a specific file into the root folder of the web site (or in our case, the blog), to prove that it's our blog. But blog "owners", who publish on the Blog*Spot servers (ie, "*.blogspot.com"), manage the blog content using the Blogger interface. The Blogger interface makes all file and folder names - we have no input in the decision. So we have no ability to add specially named files to the "root" of the blog.

Possibly those publishing externally can upload specific files to the "root". Those publishing internally are out of luck.

So what's up, Yahoo? Do you not want blogs to be mapped by your explorer?

>>> Let Yahoo know what you think of their problem.

Beta Support

No computer system will ever be static. A static system is one that's awaiting replacement. The rollout of a major upgrade can delay the replacement.

The rollout of Blogger Beta - just like any rollout - is bound to bring problems. And with the current Blogger policy of never speaking directly to us (the unpaid Blogger staff), the problems will feel more acute.

So Blogger Support provides Blogger Employee, who periodically visits the Google Blogger Help Forums, like an appearance by Christ on a magic horse.

Trouble In Paradise

Blogger Beta rocks - at least, its feature set and functionality is way better than Blogger Alpha. That doesn't mean that it doesn't have any problems though.

Any time you test a beta version of a product, you have to expect problems. So my bud, Bob in Thailand, converted his blog Roberto's Retreat to Beta. And it looked pretty good, for the first day. But now you can't see it at all. Or at least neither he or I can see it. We can edit the content, but we can't view it in any way.

We're sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.

Needless to say, this sucks. I had briefly considered moving PChuck's Network to Beta - it is badly in need of a face lift (and maybe more), and this would be a great way to start.

But not now.

And yes, I asked Bob
Did you report the problem? And did you reply to the botmail?
And he answered
So now, we wait.

(Edit 8/18 15:15): Bob, take heart. You are not alone. Now, maybe a visit from Blogger Employee.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

First Impressions

It took less than a day - and I am seriously hooked.

Between the edit on the fly, the improved Compose mode in blog edit, the ability to make blog layout changes without having to edit the template, and the ability to shift between

  • Blog viewing
  • Blog selection (Dashboard view)
  • Blog editing (Customise view)
without effort, I'm seriously in danger of forgetting HTML coding.

And, as I said in the above article
How many folks are going to be asking
How do I hide the Navbar?
now? Not me, anyway.
I just made a pair of forward - backward links.
  • Typed the above text.
  • Went to Customize - Dashboard, selected the other blog Googolians - The Blog.
  • Found the post of interest.
  • Copied the permalink for the post.
  • Came back here.
  • Added the link to the text above.
  • Published it.
  • Went to View mode in this blog.
  • Copied the permalink for this post
  • Followed the link just added.
  • Went to View mode in the other blog.
  • Went to Update mode in that blog.
  • Added the link to this post.
  • Published that.
  • Back to this blog, and to View mode.
  • Tested the forward and backwards links. Guess what? They work.
It took me longer to type this list (and to edit it with the right details), than to do the work described.


Welcome to The Real Blogger Status - Beta.