BlunderDome Experimental Blog Customizations




What, No Parachutes?

I have accomplished the following steps for all blog but this one:

  1. Established a common blog template format.  This post is in a variation of that format.
  2. Republished those blogs for which the format is to be changed on all prior posts and archives.
  3. Posted “hiatus” messages indicating that the blog is now separated from the Blogger service and will be silent until a new blog engine is put in place.
  4. Backed up the hosted forms of the blogs on the web sites where they had been published, up until now, using Blogger FTP publishing.
  5. Exported the Blogger content for the blogs.
  6. Deleted the blog from Blogger.

With completion of this post, I will carry out steps (5-6) for Spanner Wingnut as well.

The next post you see will be from attempts to use a new blog engine installed on my web site itself.




Preparing for “Kiln Sitter’s Diary”

I have now changed the color scheme here.   The just-previous template change was based on the current template for nfoWorks: Pursuing Harmony.

Now I am adjusting the appearance for what I will use as the basis for Kiln Sitter’s Diary.   This is the most-important blog for matching and then improving on the template as I migrate to a new blog engine, because it is related to Vicki’s artistic expression.

To arrive at the new color scheme, I looked at those established under the CSS-based template for these pages.  Then I tried out samples of various combinations, resulting in this table of “swatches:”

color: #9E5205
bg: #f5deb3

color: #9E5205
bg: #f5e39e
color:brown color:chocolate color:#800000
color:sienna color:#800000
color: #9E5205 color:#800000
color:#660000 color:saddlebrown color:#800000

I should have done this sort of thing before now.  It beats repetitive previewing of the full template.   Also, I could have used the FrontPage color picker more efficiently than I did by trying out color names instead. 

After narrowing down on some selections, it is easier to then confirm with a Blogger template preview, see what doesn’t work, and then look for more combinations.

I did have to do some full previews before I obtained something I was willing to operate with for now.  I will now take this template over to Kiln Sitter’s Diary, eliminating the last of my unsuccessful attempts to use a completely CSS-based template.  This will also allow me to have the Diary in better shape for however long it takes between when I shut off Blogger and have the replacement blog engine working over there.

[update 2010-04-30T03:45Z There were some fine adjustments needed in the title block at the top of each blog page and in the bottom block beneath each page.  I wanted that flat before replicating the template on Kiln Sitter’s Digest.
 update 2010-04-30T03:04Z I needed to update the template so that the beige background under posts showed through.  Then I need to set the default background of the swatch table to white so that beige wouldn’t show through where it wasn’t expected.]




Confirming Image Uploading

The next thing to confirm here is the uploading of images directly to the blog section of the site from Windows Live Writer. It is done this way with the Blogger-published blog because an FTP-published Blogger does not have a Google-provided place to store images and I want the images on my self-managed site in any case.

FTP Image Upload Settings for Windows Live Writer

This is actually pretty easy, so long as I remember that the Username is one I created. It is tied to the location of the web log in the FTP account.

The FTP host will automatically have the log-in from Windows Live Writer rooted at the wingnut blog location on the server because that is what the rules are for that Username. That is why the image folder appears to be at the root. It is the root for that account on FTP, not the root of the FTP host.

The URL is where the pictures are actually carried, relative to where the web site is imaged on the server. The names and folder structure within that folder will be generated by Windows Live Writer. These materials are not intended for deep linking, as you will learn if you use that URL to be nosy.

One challenge with this structure is keeping the images/ subdirectory backed-up. The structure that LiveWriter uses is ungainly and not something that is useful for me to mirror on my web-development site or attempt to preserve in VSS. Instead, I collect all of the image/ material into a single Zip file and I back that up in VSS and keep an image on my hosted-site image and the hosted-site itself. The versions I keep backed up on my local web-development machine will also be backed up on the Windows Home Server that supports my SOHO LAN.

I have no idea if the same or different structure will work with the blog engine I migrate to. How this one migrates will provide the worked case for migrating the images associated with the other nfoCentrale blogs.

[Update 2010-04-29T04:54Z OK, I didn’t catch that the width on the cell was also set. It should all be floating now, with it getting tricky when the browser page width is so narrow that the image itself is squeezed. That’s good enough for now. Update 2010-04-29T04:48Z I put the image and the text with it in a single-celled table so that the additional blog item material below would not flow up alongside the image if viewed in a wide browser window. What I need to remember when I do that is that Live Writer gives the table a fixed with (800 pixels, it seems). I don’t want that. The table should be the appropriate width for how the page is being viewed and that will be just fine. This update remedies that be taking the fixed width out of the <table> element.]



Time for Big Changes

Spanner Wingnut is having its moment of fame.

This blog has been updated to have a template and web-site organization that matches that of all other blogs under my command.

The special purpose of Wingnut is that it will be the laboratory for experimental conversion of the blog from Blogger FTP publishing to a different blog posting engine hosted right here on the site (actually,

The special purpose of this post is to drive out use of the new template, one based on the current personality of nfoWorks: Pursuing Harmony.  It’s disappointing in a way.  There were features of the previous Spanner Wingnut blog that I liked.  Maybe some other day.

Meanwhile, let’s start the new post format.  Here goes. …

[update:2010-04-29T04:00Z With that working, as much as I miss features of the previous format, I am reposting this to have categories (labels in Blogger) working.  I will assign this post to a category to ensure that the special category archives are being created properly on Spanner Wingnut.  Then I’ll post a comment to ensure that is working too, even if only for a one-two more days.]




Adjusting Blog Style Information


» Choosing the right document type for Web pages | Programming and Development |  I am preparing to manipulate styles of the Muddleware Labs template.   The objective is to make this and my other blogs more accessibility friendly with regard to control of fonts and text sizes by the user. 

Choice of DOCTYPE

I have successfully changed the Blogger-supplied template (Rounder 3) from XHTML 1.0 Strict (which was simply wrong) to HTML 4.01 Transitional.  This is the latest stable regular HTML DOCTYPE.  I also verified that I am using the proper DOCTYPE entry encouraged by the W3C.  This recent Tony Patton article explains the differences and how the choice matters for validation of the web page. 

The HTML 4.01 Transitional form allows all of the standard HTML presentation tags (including tables) along with the CSS markup that many prefer.  The ability to mix the two in practical ways is exactly where I want to be.  It also overcomes the fact that Windows LiveWriter (and other tools), Blogger posting, and Blogger comment posting cannot be counted on to enforce any XHTML DTD. 

This is also the DOCTYPE that I use in all of my own web-site pages that use my latest uniform styles. 

Fiddling the Styles: Resources

It is time for me to figure out how to use CSS styles and modify the ones in the template.  I will do that by modifying elements that are relatively simple and safe to fool with until I have a better sense of how omitting certain styles as well as modifying others influences the layout of the blog.  I am going to start with the Rounder 3 template of Muddleware Lab, but the idea is to ultimately achieve a form much like my other blogs but using CSS in an efficient way as part of the HTML 4.01 Transitional formatting.

I have the following resources at hand:

  • Niederst, Jennifer.  HTML Pocket Reference, 2nd edition, O'Reilly 2002.  This little reference doesn't provide anything on style sheets or style attributes.  I use it as a quick reference and for its list of character entities.
  • Musciano, Chuck., Kennedy, Bill.  HTML and XHTML: The Definitive Guide,  4th edition, O'Reilly 2000.   I have trouble with the organization of this material and the scattered handling of styles throughout the book.  I've learned enough of it to be able to use the Appendix Quick Reference on Style Sheet Properties, though.   The promised on-line compliance document that provides the latest information on what browsers do with styles is not available.  This book is now in its 6th edition.  I can use my edition for ideas to try, but I need something more definitive.
  • W3C, Cascading Style Sheets, level 1, W3C Recommendation 17 Dec 1996, revised 11 Jan 1999.  This is the definitive source.  There's also an errata.
  • W3C, Cascading Style Sheets Home Page.  Here's the latest.  I notice that CSS 2.1 is a recent version (2006) that is still in Working Draft.  I won't rely on that.  The CSS2 W3C Recommendation was produced in 1998.  CSS1 works in CSS2 "with a few exceptions."  It appears easy to use CSS1 in a way that is compatible with CSS2.  I will endeavor to accomplish that.



Changing from XHTML 1.0 to HTML 4.01


The first change I am making is to update the template to have an HTML 4.01 DTD and to be plain HTML (no xmlns or other attributes inside the <html> tag).

I can imaging this causing a problem with the <style> element in the header, although there is no ECMAScript or anything that should create much of a problem.

And we'll see.

This post is the one that will cause the modified template to be applied for the first time.


Solving a Text Size Problem

I need to see what template modifications on my Blogger sites will allow browser View | Text Size alterations to work.  As I finally noticed (after almost 5 years of blogging), my blog posts do not have text that is resizable.  I want that.

Before I can Start

Although the Muddleware Lab is reserved for experimental verification of blog modifications before I make them to my "production" blogs, I don't seem to have ever saved the current Blogger template.

My first step is to log into Blogger, open the template for this blog, and save a copy next to the default page as default.asp.template.txt.  I have those for my production blogs.  Here's the current master for the template that currently applies to Orcmid's Lair.  (This may render as a web page even though it is delivered as a text file.  If necessary, use View | Source to see the text of the template.)

Now That's Interesting

The template that I've always used on Muddleware Lab is Douglas Bowman's Rounders 3.  I see some very useful characteristics:

  1. It's texts can be fully resized larger or smaller in a browser.
    It appears that the use of %-values in font-size styles is the trick.  It also appears that the effect of <small> is also undesirable.  It looks like LiveWriter has some part in this particular outcome, but it may be following something in the Rounders 3 styling.
  2. The template is completely self-contained: There are no links to style-sheets elsewhere, an improvement over the older template that is customized on Orcmid's Lair and elsewhere.

Some Challenges

Along with the appealing bits, there are also some serious challenges:

  1. This template declares my blog pages to be strict XHTML 1.0.  I know that is not true.  Blogger does not filter nor transform the posts to ensure conformance with that DTD.  Furthermore, unclosed <p> and <br> tags show up everywhere.  I suspect <img> is unclosed also.
  2. I don't really like this template, and I need to make one that is more aligned with the style I use for the public blogs.  That would make this a more-realistic laboratory and the results would be more applicable to the other blogs.  I can work on that a little at a time, once I solve the problem that has me be working over here today.
  3. When I make template changes, some of the examples and remarks on earlier posts won't make sense if they are reposted under a modified template.  I like the idea of having them stay the way they started out. This may be possible with the archive pages, although the current main page will have wacky versions.  I need to mull this over.

Mulling Things Over

While I ponder how I can overcome the challenges, I am going to see what happens when I change the template DTD to my favorite: HTML 4.01 Transitional.



A little reality check ...

I am having FTP failures between Blogger and my official blog locations. They were all working on 10-27 and yesterday too, as you can tell from this post. But today, nothing has gone through.

This post is to see this is specific to blogs or not. If this one fails, I must also check Numbering Peano.

So, this is just a test post, exactly the sort of thing you should expect to find here.

[update 2006-10-29-20:46Z Well, this isn't working either. I don't know if it is just the three Orcmid's hosted blogs or not.]

[update 2006-10-29-22:07Z I'm not doing any better on any of my Blogger-managed blogs. The only thing I can do is attempt to repost this one every so often until there's a change.]

[update 2006-10-30-00:28Z I'm still trying, will follow up immediately when one works.]

[update 2006-10-30-01:08Z Well, here we are. It is time to bring the other blogs current too.]



... Reaching the Distant Shore

Sometimes, that’s just a step into the next room. Or the laptop on the nearby worktable that holds my development IIS server and Visual Source Safe repository, and the site images that I use with ftp for synchronizing my web sites on their public hosting services.

If I have correctly changed my Blogger settings, this post will appear at the URL, and it will not be reflected at

This was accomplished by changing the FTP settings. For me to see the changes in the feed, I will need to delete my old feed and begin reading from the new location,

I expect there may be some breakage with regard to the blog-page template, especially with regard to images. I will repair all of those next.

This experiment is specifically to learn about all of the necessary steps and the additional corrections that must be made.

[2006-10-27-22:04 update. The first posting attempt for this message didn't seem to end up on any blog, new site or old site. I ftp'd to the new location and by the time I arrived, so had the new post.

Although the main page, the archive page, and the Atom feed are correct on the new site, the preceding post's individual page isn't here, so there are broken links to it. Blogger didn't have any basis for concluding that page needed to be reposted. I will fix that now.]


Stepping Onto Uncharted Territory

If you see this post on the site, and there is no follow-on post declaring that Spanner has arrived on a distant shore, you are looking at the old hosted site for Spanner Wingnut’s Muddleware Lab.  If for some reason you are subscribed to the site feed and you see this post without a follow-on post, the same answer applies.  The fresh pages and the fresh feeds to go with them have been moved.

The active creation of this blog is being moved to the new home of Orcmid’s Lair at URL  Although the old URL will eventually follow along to the new home, that may not be for a while.  It is really better to fix your bookmarks, feed readers, and other connections, though.

The same dislocation is about to happen with the other blogs: Orcmid’s Lair,   As usual, the movement process will be checked out by Spanner Wingnut first because, let’s face it, the bloke is expendable.

See you on the other side …

[update 2006-10-27-22:24 Now that the other side has been reached, I need a way to force this entry to repost, because Blogger has no reason to post it again on the new site unless I tell it to.  I am not republishing the site, just changing the rules for how site entries are FTP’d to the proper server.  I migrated all older material before this particular message was posted, so it got lost in the gap.  The same will happen when I now move the other blogs, since their content has already been migrated.]

Construction Structure (Hard Hat Area) You are navigating Orcmid's Lair.

template created 2007-06-09-16:51 -0700 (pdt)
$$Author: Orcmid $
$$Date: 10-05-01 17:25 $
$$Revision: 9 $