August 28, 2008

Blogger Tutorials in Progress (What I'm working on now)

This week, I seem to have had a great spurt of creativity, and now have quite a few new tutorials/templates in progress which I have not yet had time to document!

Those of you who follow my updates on Twitter may already have some ideas of what's in store for Blogger Buster over the next few weeks. In any case, I am so excited about some of these new developments that I feel I ought to write a quick update to offer some insights of what I'm working on, and when these projects may become available as tutorials.

New templates

I have two (possibly three) new templates which are almost ready to be released. These are original, "made for Blogger" designs which I hope to perfect and upload within the next week or two.

I've taken a lot of inspiration from grid based designs for these new templates: the first is a minimalist template (with many options for customization), while the second is much more stylized and color-rich.

As some of you may have noticed, I'm still experiencing problems with my file host, though once I've been able to move everything over to the new server, I'll be able to complete and distribute these themes.

Creating an "Asides/Sideblog" section for Blogger

I've always envied the Wordpress function which allows bloggers to display a "sideblog" in the sidebar (a list of posts separate from the main section which often refer to recommended links or very short updates).

Luckily, I've managed to tweak the Blogger template code to allow certain labels to be filtered from the main display of posts on the homepage. This will enable us to display these particular posts as a "sideblog" in the sidebar without being replicated elsewhere on the page.

This method does have some caveats (and a few minor issues, which I'm working on now), but for anyone interested in developing a sideblog I'm sure this will be a useful addition to the arsenal of Blogger hacks available ;)

A improved method of posting excerpts on the home page

For over a year now, I've been using Ramani's excellent hack to display excerpts of my posts on the homepage of Blogger Buster.

However, I must admit that this has never satisfied my desire to display a true excerpt (based on the number of words/characters) which does not rely on editing the HTML code for each post.

So after MUCH searching, experimentation and tweaking, I think I have found a much more preferable solution which uses JavaScript and minimal editing of the template code.

At present, the JavaScript is quite bloated and the results differ between browsers. But at least it works! Once I am happy with the overall functions, I'll begin to use this function here on Blogger Buster and will of course write up a full tutorial for you to use this in your own Blogger template designs.

Animated tag cloud

This is the function I am most excited about! Thanks to Roberto, I learned about a beautiful animated tag cloud plugin which had been made available for Wordpress users. Needless to say I was fascinated by this, and was able to convert for use in Blogger templates:

This tag cloud operates from the labels assigned to each Blogger post and animates these labels using Flash. If you cannot see this animation, this is likely because you need to install the latest version of Adobe Shockwave, have JavaScript disabled in your browser, or are viewing this post in your feed reader ;)

With permission from Roy Tanck (the original author of this plugin) I hope to write a tutorial about this very soon.

Over to you!

I hope you may find these forthcoming tutorials to be useful for your own blogging needs! Don't forget to subscribe to Blogger Buster to learn when these tutorials become available.

Please do let me know your thoughts on these customizations, or indeed any other experimental features you'd like me to attempt by leaving your comments below.

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Browse through the Archives

All existing posts are still available to view while I'm working on the site, albeit seen in a much simpler interface. Feel free to browse through the archives to find tutorials, templates and articles to help you build a better blog:

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