Thursday, November 20, 2008

I modified my template, what was I thinking?

Shortly after I started to blog, I wanted a 3 column template and found that Blogger didn't offer one. I went and looked at some 3rd party providers and quickly determined that I didn't know as much about computers as I thought I did, HTML this, CSS that, oh lets not forget their buddy XML. If these sound like Sand Script with a Russian accent to you, good, that means I'm not alone.

I recently got brave due to some spare time (see: Devils hands / really bad idea) and decided that I was going to modify my template and get the 3 columns that I wanted. I saved my current template (not a useful as it would seem) so that I would have a fall back if I did something wrong (all but guaranteed). I then went deep into the "code" looking for several things that I expected to find (right after Elvis & Jimmy Hoffa) such as the code specific to the left column and the width adjustment for the center / posting column. I planed on finding the code for the narrow column on the left, duplicate this code and make the change for right as opposed to left justification. I made some changes, feeling confident that I found and changed the correct lines of code (flatulence putting you on the moon more likely) and clicked the appropriate boxes to accept the changes and save. Blogger asked me if I was sure I wanted to make these changes (mental note: questions like this are trying to prevent idiots like me from making bad choices). I confidently clicked the appropriate boxes and waited to see my awesome creation. If you've ever tried this yourself and it worked out, then your obviously smarter than I am (doesn't take much). If what occurred to you is anything like what happened to me, than you likely said things that you wouldn't say in the presence of small children, woman, or priests. As you can imagine, the outcome was somewhere between blater pain in traffic and forced viewing of Rosie O'Donnell (not sure which is worse).

No problem, I was smart, I saved my original work right? Well sort of, you see when you save a Blogger template, it only saves your actually work (posts) and a minimal amount of formatting. All the sidebar materials including links, widgets, list, and anything else except the blog archive went bye bye (insert visual of rake handle to the crotch). If your like me and you have a lot of sidebar add ons and other sidebar items then this becomes a large pain in posterior region.

I realized that I needed help or an asylum and I needed it soon or my by blog was toast (and not the nice cinnamon sugar kind from childhood). Thanks to Carl Kilo over at Spark it Up I got back on track with a Blogger friendly template that he found and sent to me. Once I got the new template loaded things were more or less back to normal, less spending the morning putting in all new widgets and links. I'm sure that I forgot some that were on my original blog.

There is some good new out of this, I finally got a 3 column template (good blogger, now I can have donut). If you too want your Blogger based blog to be a 3 column template, you may want to go here, this site has 3 column templates that are the same as the basic 2 column templates already offered by Blogger. This is very handy for most Blogger users, because it allows them keep the ease of use and familiar feel from a Blogger provided template but adds the use and options of a 3 column template. If you want to dig deeper and do other cool things to your blog you may want to go the Blogflak blog where they cover just about everything you could ever want to do to a blog (wish I found them before I dived into the chum water).

If you've previously voted on my current poll question, please vote again as this was one of them many things that went to the technology netherworld during this project.

Thanks to Carl Kilo, who's help was invaluable on this project.