Sunday 29 May 2011

Blogs I Read

This is a technical website/blogging type post.  If you are here for crafts and pretty pictures, I recommend you move along...... ok only the blogging geeks left?  Then I shall continue....

This last week I've been scouring the internet for help.  I have wanted to tweak my blog for a little while.  I wanted to use the lovely blogroll gadget that Blogger has, on a separate page from the main front page.  You would think it would be easy, but it isn't.

The great thing about the Blogger Blogroll gadget is that it shows snippets of the most recent blog posts that your favourite bloggers have written.  I like how it changes who comes at the top of the list, depending on who has posted most recently.  It seems a fair way of managing who gets pride of place on your page.  I would have put it on the front page in one of the side panels but they were all full up of things I wanted to have on my front page.  I don't really have room for anything else, especially a gadget that would use up quite a lot of space.  This is why I wanted the gadget to be on a separate page.

I looked into whether Blogger would let me put a gadget on a separate page, and apparently they won't let you (waves fist in the air shouting "damn you Blogger").  That would have been the easiest way for me to get a current list on my site.

Then I found out that Google Reader (my feedreader of choice) lets you post a selected blogroll on a Blogger page.  If you are interested, I found out how to do this here.    However, this solution wasn't quite what I had in mind, but at least it  would update automatically if I made changes to my Google Reader selections.  It was however only a simple list of links to the various blogs I read.  There was no information beyond the name of the blog.

What I really wanted from my blogroll, was there to be an automatic element. I wanted a way of embedding the content from an RSS feed into an html page.  It's not as straight forward as you might think!  There are various services that help you embed the information from an RSS feed into your html page.  RSSInclude, is such a service.  It looked very promising and allowed me to do this:

The problem with RSSInclude is, that I wanted to have more than one RSS feed on my page. I wanted a blogroll.  If I wanted multiple feeds embedded, I would have pay cash money, which I'm always loathe to do.  After abandoning this service I looked some more and found an RSS/RDF Converter.  This technique involved inputting feeds one at a time to produce this:

RSS to JavaScript

I quite like this layout, but there are no images and each feed would have to be input individually.  It would also have no movement, so the same blogs would always be at the top of the page, even if the most recent post was 6 months ago.  There seem to be quite a few websites that provide this service, but none, that I could find, provided me with what I wanted.

In the end I made a cobbled together fix, which I have to say I am quite proud of.  I created another blog using Blogger, and using a very simple layout, I deleted everything I could think of, and made sure there were no side panels.  I then added the Blogroll gadget to the middle of the layout, at the top of the page.  The gadget let me use the Google Reader folder I created for my first Blog List attempt, which I had made using these instructions and I tinkered with the layout so it matched my main blog.  I then embedded this new blog into the "Blogs I Read" page using an iFrame.  I typed the following code onto the page:

If you were to use this technique you would replace the text with the relevant page you wanted to embed.  This is exactly the same technique I used to embed my Posterous page under "My Inspiration".  I feel that this still isn't the perfect solution to my quest, but it is as close as I can get without having a tame website designer.  Unfortunately, though my lovely man is a professional code monkey, he doesn't work in html (booooo!!!!!).

So please go and have a look at my new page, and tell me if you know of any better way to have an updating blogroll page, in Blogger.  I really am all ears, as this quest has basically turned me doolally!

Hopefully my next post will actually have some crafts in it, but I thought others may find my research of interest and possible use.


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