Thursday, May 07, 2009

A word about blogger.com formatting, post pages, archive pages, searches

Update 5/8/09 10:40 a.m. It appears that all of the following has been mooted by some good advice. Faithful reader "DreadWingKnight" has solved my problem, by giving me a "table" command that would keep the sidebar materials in the sidebar. Thank you, DreadWingKnight.
-R.B.

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As many of you know, this blog is hosted by Blogger.com.

Also, as many of you know, I have a lot of content in my sidebar (e.g. links to indie music, links to sites and articles, rss feeds from some good sites, legal defense fund info, archives, recent posts, quotes from judges, selected ads, etc.)

Blogger.com has basically two kinds of "permalinks". One that has a lot of numbers, and it takes you to the post in the context of the page, with the entire sidebar to the left ("archive permalinks"). The other kind is the permalink to a "post page", which uses all or part of the headline as the link ("postpage permalink").

Blogger offers an option to enable "post pages" or not. During most of the time I've had the blog I've enabled "post pages", which means that there is a "permalink" which takes you to a particular blog post. The good thing about the post pages is that they are easily searchable with my Google search box. The bad thing is that when you view a "post page" link, once you get to the end of the post, and to the end of the comments and what not, all of the sidebar contents is strewn across the page below the post, creating a messy appearance.

I've received several complaints, mostly from some of my friends on Slashdot, many of whom are professional coders, about the look below the post page articles.

For a few months I've experimented with disabling "post pages", so that the only permalinks generated were the archive page permalinks.

During this period, the posts were much neater looking, but searches were much slower and more difficult. One would be taken to an "archive page" -- i.e. a page listing all posts for a particular month. One would then have to scroll down to the "Recent posts" (one couldn't click 'Recent Posts' because doing so would take one to the current "Recent Posts" rather than the archived "Recent Posts"), and then scroll down to find the article one was looking for.

I've debated about it, and concluded that content and usability have to take precedence over appearance.

I've decided to discontinue my experiment with disabling "post pages".

I apologize in advance for the messy appearance generated by the post page links, but the ability to search for content has to take precedence over the look of this blog.

-R.B.



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4 comments:

DreadWingKnight said...

Just a thought about the sidebar thing. Have you tried wrapping the whole mess in a table to attempt to constrain it to a specific width?

Ray Beckerman said...

Thanks, DreadWingKnight. No I haven't. Can you tell me how I would go about that?

DreadWingKnight said...

Not sure how good you are personally with HTML, but just inside the '<div id="sideBar">' tag, you put:
<table border=0 cellspacing=0 cellpadding=0><tr><td>

Then at the corresponding </div> tag for the sidebar (you may need a dedicated HTML editor to find it correctly) you put a </td></tr></table>

I make no guarantees about it working, but it was my first thought.

Ray Beckerman said...

DreadWingKnight!!!!!!!!!

It worked!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!