Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Saturday, 13 December 2008

An update on planned template changes for "Bill's Comment Page"

At long last I am almost ready to roll-out major changes to the template I use for this blog - I hope to get the final version ready and made 'live' here in the next 48 hours. I wrote at the beginning of the month that these changes were then imminent, but I'm afraid that various things delayed the rapid progress I anticipated then. However, during the next couple of days, visitors to this blog will notice some major changes to how the blog looks; eventually the basic theme will end up looking similar to what is here now, but there may be some interim stages when it looks very decidedly different, whilst I get the layout 'tweaked'. However the basic blog content articles won't be changing in any way.

Rather than repeat myself entirely, I'm reproducing below much of the earlier post, referred and linked to above, as this explains why I am making these changes and some of the major differences between what is visible now and what will be visible after the changes are complete:

I am in the process of changing the blog 'template' by converting it from a 'classic' Blogger mainly HTML format to a more modern 'layout' template, heavily reliant on CSS. This should dramatically increase the speed with which my page loads. If you have been trying to visit my blog over the past few weeks you will undoubtedly have noticed that it has become VERY, VERY SLOW to load and I think the basic problem is that Blogger (i.e. Google) must have made some changes to its database structure for blogs recently which means that 'classic' templates are no longer so fully supported by their systems.

In any case, I realised about a week and a half ago that something was seriously wrong and since then I have been working on a parallel test blog to work out some of the technical issues with doing the conversion here. I am now at the stage when I will probably begin to roll-out the new template in the next week, but it is possible there may be some rather curious initial side-effects (based on my experience with my Spanish blog, which has just today been converted to a similar updated template to the one I propose to use here); please bear with me during this phase. The pay-off will be a dramatic improvement in page-load times.

PS/ One important change when the template changes is that my 'comments' provider will change from the externally-provided Haloscan to the Google/Blogger equivalent; as a result, any comments made prior to the switch-over will be lost. I am sorry about this, but I have been thinking about making the switch for quite some time and rather than running the two 'comment' scripts in parallel for a while think it is better to make a clean break. In many ways I much prefer Haloscan, but as with any externally-sourced code can cause its own problems from time to time, specially during website down-times or software upgrades; nevertheless I shall be sorry to say 'goodbye' to Haloscan.

Two final observations:

- apart from the switch of my 'comments' from Haloscan to the Google/Blogger equivalent (and the loss of all the comments made on Haloscan when the changeover happens), the other major change is that this blog will revert to using a '2-column' format instead of the rather more elegant (in my view) 3-column format in use here for about the last 4 years. I'm afraid I have been obliged to do this because the new template 'layout' format does not easily permit a 3-column format, at least with the level of programming skill which I possess. There are negatives and positives to the format change, though - whilst the links in the right hand column will now extend much further down the page and be somewhat more confusing to navigate (in my view) than the clear split between external and internal links in my 3-column format, a welcome result of the change is that the main window (where my articles are posted) will occupy a much wider part of the screen than had been possible with the 3-column format.

The new working template is already 'live' in a parallel test-bed blog I operate. It now remains to transfer all the coding to this blog's template - as I'm quite tired now (and 'cross-eyed' having developed the changes using three different PCs with different sizes of screens and operating systems and testing the results using different browsers for most of this afternoon and evening), I plan to do no more until tomorrow.

Whilst doing all this blog-development, I've been watching yet more repeats on ITV3, currently the very watchable Taggart - one of the better UK-produced police dramas I think, and that will suffice for the rest of my evening's entertainment before bed. OK that's quite enough blogging 'onanism', something I rarely indulge in here.

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