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Making The Switch, Part Two

Since I do almost all of my text creation off-line I don’t worry too much about the editor in blogging software, but WordPress has one feature that I really like, the ability to break a long post up so people who aren’t interested don’t have to scroll through it. I looked at a couple of ways of doing this in Blogger, but they were too much trouble to do it the way I wanted. WordPress has the feature built into its editor.

It also allows you to schedule posts. For example, I can set up a Friday Cat Blogging post anytime before Friday, and it appears at the time I designated. I don’t have to wait or fake the post time.

Another feature I like is the way that WordPress allows you to maintain your blogroll, and to create multiple blogrolls. If you are just starting out, this is a lot easier than editing the template in Blogger.

However if you have a large blogroll and don’t want to type it all in again you have a new adventure waiting for you: OPML [Outline Processor Markup Language]. Apparently this format was created for RSS feeds and it is the only import format that WordPress recognizes. I go into that below the fold.

The other annoyance was the way the default linking works. I prefer the blogroll links to open in a new page, but not the internal site links. I also needed to establish the header graphic as a link, as the original template puts text over that graphic and ties a link to the text, as at The Yellow Doggerelist.

This site, Oliver Willis, and The Yellow Doggerelist all use the default Kubrick template, but we have derived different looks from the same basic layout. Steve’s site is closest to the original.

In Blogger your blogroll is the usually the standard Hyper Text Markup Language [HTML] format: <a xhref=”Site Address”>Site Name</a>. You have to convert it to the OPML format: <outline text=”Site Name” type=”link” url=”Site Address”/>. Then you need to create a text with the proper headers and footers to look like this:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”ISO-8859-1″?>
<opml version=”1.1″>
<head>
<title>Blogroll</title>
<dateCreated>Fri, 17 Mar 2006 12:59:58 GMT</dateCreated>
<dateModified>Fri, 17 Mar 2006 23:41:32 GMT</dateModified>
<ownerName>Your Name</ownerName>
<ownerEmail>your@name.com</ownerEmail>
</head>
<body>
<outline text=”Why Now?” type=”link” url=”https://whynow.dumka.us/”/>
<outline text=”Site Name” type=”link” url=”Site Address”/>
</body>
</opml>

I used the search & replace function and some spreadsheet manipulation because I didn’t feel like writing a program to do it.

After you have the file built, you give it an OPML extension, upload it to your site. You should run it by the OPML Validator to ensure there are no typos and then you can use the Import function from the WordPress Links menu.

WordPress uses plug-ins for a lot of things that make life easier. I added gravators to comments and switched my SiteMeter account using plug-ins. They have just released a set of tools called Widgets that are installed as a plug-in. Widgets allow you to change your sidebar without editing the sidebar.php file. I can’t use them because I have edited the sidebar, header, footer and style.css files to an extent that widgets wouldn’t recognize them.

I’ve expanded the width of the page, changed every font, altered all of the background graphics, added Java scripts, and generally played with things up to the point of breaking the page.

I don’t mind sharing the information I’ve collected on individual features, but I’m pretty much done unless something super exiting comes along.

2 comments

1 djhlights { 03.31.06 at 8:11 pm }

The site looks good. I’ve been wanting to change mine for a while now but I’m too damn lazy. Thanks for the technical info as well.

2 Bryan { 03.31.06 at 11:50 pm }

It is easy to to screw things up if you don’t have the information going in. I spent a lot time downloading things and reading before I launched this. I don’t expect to win any design prizes, but at least the layout is readable by those with bifocals and it doesn’t give you a headache.