Sunday, September 21, 2008

Following - For (Even Less Than Not Quite) All

Recently, I wrote about Following, and two reasons why it's only available (currently) for bloggers that use the various dialects of English. You'd think that it should be available, immediately, to anybody with a blog that's properly presented in the language of their choice. And that would by preference be the possibility, but reality says not.

Today, we see one example why "not" is going to be seen more than "can", as more and more non English bloggers start to envy those of us who have Following.

Jane, in Hong Kong, has a blog that (until recently) had a bilingual title
Reddie's Page | 鸿屋
This was fine, for the blog, and it was good for her readers - some who prefer to read English, and others to read Chinese. But, she had no Followers for the blog, even though the Following gadget was properly installed.

Whenever someone clicked on the link from the Following gadget in her blog
Follow this blog
(try it!!), instead of the popup window
Follow this Blog
(try that too!!), they would get a popup window
Bad Request
Error 400
A "Bad Request Error 400" is a network error, usually resulting from a trashed packet, or a network problem that the reader can't control (and generally can't understand).

This "Bad Request Error 400", though, is a problem that the reader can control, but a bit of work is required. Roberto's Report: Following - A Language hitch? shows us the immediate problem, and offers one workaround.

But what's going on here? The problem starts from the dynamic URL in the link. A URL that contains a "?" represents a dynamic call to a web server, where the portion of the URL after the "?" is a series of arguments, applied dynamically against the server represented by the URL to the left of the "?".

Here's the URL attached to the Following gadget for this blog (with gratuitous line breaks, to make it readable)
javascript:_FollowersView._openPopup
("http://www.blogger.com/follow-blog.g?
blogID=24069595&blogTitle=The+Real+Blogger+Status");
here's the URL from Jane's blog (while Following did not work)
javascript:_FollowersView._openPopup
("http://www.blogger.com/follow-blog.g?
blogID=5982485953789049064&blogTitle=Reddie%27s+Page+%7C++%E9%B8%BF%E5%B1%8B");
and finally, here's the URL from her blog right now
javascript:_FollowersView._openPopup
("http://www.blogger.com/follow-blog.g?
blogID=5982485953789049064&blogTitle=Reddie+in+Hong+Kong");


OK, that's nice, but what's the problem? It's quite simple, actually.
%7C++%E9%B8%BF%E5%B1%8B
is the hexadecimal representation of the latter portion of the blog title
| 鸿屋
and there's the problem. The server that is servicing the request
www.blogger.com/follow-blog.g
can't accept
%7C++%E9%B8%BF%E5%B1%8B
as part of the argument. Following uses the blog title
Reddie%27s+Page+%7C++%E9%B8%BF%E5%B1%8B
in the popup window "Follow this Blog", and that's not acceptable to the server.

So, right now, the workaround is to remove all non (English) "alphanumeric" characters from the blog title. If you want to display a multi-lingual blog title, display it as an image embedded in the template.

This, however, is a technically complex "solution", and it's intimidating to some folks. Many bloggers like having their blog titles in text, as part of the blog content, not in a picture. Many English bloggers like this, and many non-English bloggers should be entitled to the same choices.

So right now, blogs that have titles that contain non-English (non alphameric) characters (ie, possibly anything that has to be represented by hexadecimal codes ("%E9%B8%BF%E5%B1%8B") won't be able to use the Following gadget, even if both the blog itself and the readers profile are both in English.

This post, and the posts written by Roberto, are a good example of diagnostic technique. Sometimes, you see the picture, but you need to look at the right details. In this case, the
鸿屋
isn't the problem. The problem is the
|
Apparently, a "%7C" breaks a quote delimited character string in a dynamic URL argument.

Kudos, Bob, for getting to the bottom of this issue.

(Update 9/22 16:00): Blogger Support acknowledges the problem:
Some users may find that they are unable to follow blogs with quotation marks in their blog titles.


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1 comment:

Roberto said...
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