Friday, 2 April 2010

THE NEW BLOGGER TEMPLATES

Blogger has been doing a lot of work behind the scenes and has just come out with a completely new editor, with a bigger choice of backgrounds.



As with everything, there are pros and cons, so I'll try to cover everything for you in this post.

THE DOWNSIDE - READ THIS FIRST

Before you start, you must realise that if you have a special background or header image (which you may have commissioned, or it may be a freebie) YOU WILL LOSE IT. It can't be helped: the code will override any previous background and header images.

If you have a special header, I'd advise you to copy it to Picasa, Flickr, Photobucket etc, so you will be able to reload it from there. Unfortunately, this won't help re backgrounds. They will be GONE. Then again, if you are reading this, you are obviously thinking about a new look anyway!

WIDGETS

You will be asked if you want to save your widgets, which means you can - but I would still advise that you check previous articles on how to back them up ... just in case.

HTML TWEAKS

If you have played around in the html of your blog, adding a signature or numbered comments, removing the border round pictures etc - YOU WILL LOSE ALL THESE as the new template will overwrite all of this.

IMAGES

The main difference with the new Template Editor is in uploading your pictures: older blogs won't have their actual layouts or headers affected unless you change them yourself, but the Picture Uploader will default to the new one. Also, please be aware that if you have more than one blog, this will affect ALL of them.

I found I couldn't upload pictures direct from the My Pictures folder in the hard drive on my computer - this format seems to be happy only to upload via Picasa or another online site, eg: Flickr, Photobucket. Trying to upload from my computer on 6 separate occasions caused it to fail.

Note added  8th April 2010
Google seem to have fixed this now, you'll be glad to know. (New programmes always have a few glitches in the beginning).

Of course, if you install Picasa on your computer, this means you can upload any image... but it also means they may become public if you are not very careful with the settings - which you might not want. (Also, it appears that Picasa has a finite size for free storage - around 1mg - more than that, and you have to pay!)

NOTE: Installing Picasa will automatically organise all your pictures into Picasa's image gallery - on your computer - where you can arrange and store all your photos in different folders (Family, Blog etc). You'll be able to upload automatically, straight from your computer, using the default setting on your blog's Image Uploader (the little picture icon) on your post toolbar with no problems whatsoever.

I am pretty sure this is a bandwidth issue: the new templates are so customisable and therefore so complex, that they must use more bandwith. Therefore, hosting your images on an external site won't use any of Blogger's bandwidth (unless it's Picasa)  and your images upload like a charm. Personally speaking, I have hundreds if not thousands of images, and to have to upload a photo to an external site every time I want it to go on my blog would be a real pain - but for those of you who use external storage anyway, this won't present any problem. In fact, it would be business as normal! Just upload the image code as you normally would. It may also be worth installing Picasa, and limiting the pictures you leave in there, or upload to your blog, and keeping the rest of your images, copyright-free pix, digital scrapbooking etc, totally separate. That way you'd get the best of both worlds.

Free image storage sites, apart from Google's Picasa, are: 
and other similar sites. Just google for them.

THE UPSIDE - HUNDRED OF POSSIBILITIES!

Install Blogger in Draft and your blog can be customised in so many ways. The possibilites are stunning!


Go to Blogger in Draft to activate.

I've found this can be a little buggy: if you go to your Page Elements > Layout view and find you don't see the icon, click back to your Dashboard then back to Layout again, and you'll see it just fine.


There are four main design layouts, and under the thumbnails you'll see several variations for each design layout - so you've already got around another 20 layouts in all. I have chosen the Awesome Inc template, and the third option shown underneath.


The second step is to start customising! Click on Background in the menu on the left. The first thing you will see are suggested colourways for the template - so you could change to blues, greens etc. This varies for every single template! As you are beginning to see, there are hundreds of permutations...


Click the arrow beside the thumbnail next to the menu bar - this brings up a fly-out menu with a scrollable list on the left, showing all the categories you can choose from, with thumbnail images on the right.


I simply click on the thumbnail of the background image I like, and hey presto...  OK, I'm not keen, so I'll scroll down to a different category and see if there is something else I like better.



Yes, this is much better. I'll stick with this one. Now to start customising the layout.


Click on Layout in the menu on the left, and then select the layout for the blog - how many columns, whether on the left or the right, etc. Your choice highlights in the box above, and you immediately see the result in the split screen below. Preview to see this in Real Life (I'd suggest you save the layout now, if you are happy with it).

Now to go on to customise colours and size of text etc...


Click on Advanced in the menu on the left, which brings up all the categories in the main menubar. On the left are all the text/widget/header choices with a scroll bar, and next to this is are the fonts you can choose for each section. Just below, you can choose the size you want, plus Bold and Italic.

To the right are the suggested colours that match your blog, and in the little text boxes at the top you'll notice colour codes: these start with # and are a combination of 6 number/letters. Next to these are little arrows - click on these if you want to pick a particular colour you don't see in the main section.


You can see some of my changes here. Every category you choose in the menu (eg: Post Title shows in the pic above) is outlined/highlighted with red dotted lines, so you can see where you are. Notice I've also chosen my font (Verdana) and the size.


I've also customised my post background colour, as I wasn't keen on the white. I'm happy - so I just need to click Apply to Blog, and I'm finished!


My finished customisation: I changed the background three times before I settled for this one, then I changed the layout. I changed the Blog Title colour to white, 70pt size and the Post Title to gold, 42pt size. The background for the posts has changed from white to ochre, and the Page font to 16pt (all Verdana).

FINALLY

There is still a way to add a customised background image, but these will need to be applied to a particular layout individually - no more swapping backgrounds daily or weekly with these new templates, I'm afraid! But if you are happy with what you see, then go for it.

If you want something totally individual to yourself - especially if you have paid for the design - then don't change to this editor - even a wide 3-col background doesn't fit comfortably although Stretch templates will work. The biggest issue for the blog designer will be applying their copyrights for any free images, as these don't position happily either. As I see it, the only way it will work properly is to download the entire package, background included, and the background will only fit that particular template.

Therefore, if you love variety in your backgrounds, EITHER go for the new template editor OR stick with the old editor and choose Minima - the most adaptable template out there. And the one which all those wonderful freebie backgrounds will fit.

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10 comments:

  1. I think I understand 50% of what you wrote, but I intend to keep reading it over and over until I can create myself a blog. I intend to use it as a family journal so I think the difficulty in uploading pictures will be avoided. Yeah right.

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  2. Alice - It sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is! Just install the Blogger in Draft and tick that you want it, and then click on the new editor and go ahead and play! Nothing is final until you click that Save button, and everything can be altered anyway.

    I just took a look at your blog - you are in the ideal place to start! Just upload one or two pictures and maybe a couple of posts, then you'll have enough content to play around with where you can see the effects of the changes.

    I think the new setup will be ideal for you. I just added an extra note re Picasa, which might help you. And if you get into difficulties, please feel free to email me. If I can help, you know I will.

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  3. Hello and thanks so much for stopping by my page. Just want to say I'm enjoying looking around your wonderful blog. I love finding and learning new techy stuff, geek that I am! Have a lovely week.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey Susie,

    I have a new request..haha. :0) Ok, so we can add code to provide a post divider...that's ok, but I'm taking this a step further...is it possible to have a "gadget/widget thingie" appear below each post that you publish..it's your choice to use it or not??

    I hope this made sense...I have this idea of pulling in "stuff" to show that would link to my website or elsewhere..kind of a new way of linking out to other stuff...[other than including it in a post] This new way would [in my opinion] make it stand out much better since it will be obvious that it's separating your posts.

    I guess I figure anything is possible if you know how to code it, right??

    Tell me what you think? I think it's a great concept and haven't seen it done anywhere yet.

    Hugs,
    Stephanie ♥

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  5. Hmmm... that's an interesting one. I don't think you can - the new Template Editor is not as forgiving as the old ones, and the code is all different. What about Link Within: http://www.linkwithin.com/learn which puts links for 3 previous posts at the bottom of each post? It's a nice stopping point, decorative and discreet, and sounds the closest to what you are after. Otherwise, I'd recommend looking at the Blog Doctor: http://www.blogdoctor.me/2007/11/backlinks-with-bob-and-alice.html (although some of his tutorials are out of date so don't always work).

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  6. Hey Susie,

    Thanks for the feedback....the link within is only pulling from existing posts in archive. What I want is to post something that links to my website or possibly someplace else...all by my own choice.

    I can always add stuff to the bottom of my posts but it's really not what I have in mind.

    I know that the google adsense ads will show up between posts if you choose to so there's got to be a way! I hate it when I think of something clever and don't know how to make it happen...thanks for the link..I'll check it out and you keep this idea in the back of your mind..the solution may appear to you one day and everyone in blogland is gonna want to do it.

    Thanks so much for all the research you do and for all the tuts you offer us. I always learn something new when I visit...and I love to learn new stuff !

    Have a great day...

    Hugs,
    Stephanie ♥

    ReplyDelete
  7. I just wanted to say thanks again for the help in adding my fairy dust. I notice YOU aren't using it...a question I have is when I've added "snow" to my blog in the past, it made my blog load a lot slower and it was also very jerky on the blog. I always removed the snow widget right away. THIS code for "snow or fairy dust", being inserted into the actual template, doesn't seem to slow down the loading of my blog. Have there been any complaints on using this code?
    Thanks so much,
    bj

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi BJ - I'm not using the snow/fairy dust as it simply doesn't suit this particular background. When I put up a wintry or Christmassy one, I will probably upload it again. And the coding doesn't slow the blog down. I've had no complaints whatsoever, although people have complained about the Blogger Buster one.

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  9. PLEASE HELP! I don't understand the codes and exactly which parts I should or shouldn't delete…I added a template from shabbyblogs.com a long time ago. Now, there is actually a template I like in the choices from Blogger, and when I look at the "Live on Blog" it looks exactly how I want it. BUT, on the actual blog it's a weird combination (mostly the old stuff) showing up. I must have deleted something, as the picture that was there is gone, but borders and other parts are not. I am also planning on switching to Wordpress soon, so I don't even know how much it matters or if I can start from scratch designing my template once I am there, while still just keeping all of my old blog content/posts. Can you point me in the right direction? Thanks so much!! This is so frustrating!

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    Replies
    1. HI Missy

      This is a common problem, as the Shabby Blogs templates seem to install in several areas, which is really annoying when you try to delete them. I'll answer point by point...

      1. In LAYOUT VIEW, click on every html widget showing in the sidebar and footer, and see if anything has the shabbyblogs.com url anywhere in the coding, most probably where it says img src. If there is any widget with shabbyblogs in there, delete it and then save your settings again.

      2. If you can't find anything, and this doesn't work, try changing to a different Blogger template. It doesn't matter which one. This should also get rid of it. It will also get rid of any customisation you've done, and you will have to put all this in again, but will get rid of the shabbyblogs background. See if it's worked first, before reinstalling your tweaks and changing font colours etc - sometimes you need to change template several times, before going back to the template format that you actually prefer.

      3. Importing your blog into WordPress will wipe any backgrounds, widgets etc. It will import all your posts and your pictures (although you may need to do some adjusting there). I doubt it will import any comments either, but at least your posts will be fine.

      Check out my post here: http://1stfloorflatcomputery.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/how-to-remove-blog-background-button-or.html

      I hope this helps! Do let me know how you get on.
      Best of luck,
      Susie

      Delete

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