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Friday, October 14, 2011

Dynamic Templates And Visitor Information

As the dynamic templates continue to be installed on various Blogger blogs, more and more blog owners are noticing problems with their visitor logs.
I installed a dynamic template on my blog, and my Stats display shows
No stats yet, check back later.
and
StatCounter shows no traffic, now that my blog uses the dynamic views.
These reports come from people who don't realise how the new templates work - and why they don't seem to work, in these cases.

Blogs that use the dynamic views are able to display content faster.

The display speed improvement is possible, because dynamic templates use the blog feed - which is downloaded from the Blogger newsfeed servers, and rendered as a web display on our computers. Non Dynamic templates display static or semi static HTML (with CSS, XML, and other extensions) - rendered into web displays on the Blogger servers, and downloaded as web content.

The differences in web page display are not consistent with how visitor activity is observed.

  • Dynamic templates provide less customisation ability, for most blog owners.
  • Newsfeed content is simpler than web pages.
  • Newsfeed content is read one display page at a time.
  • Displayed dynamic pages contain less formatting tweaks.
  • Individual posts, when displayed, are already cached on the local computer.

Dynamic templates provide less customisation ability, for most blog owners.

The downloaded dynamic templates are very simple, and contain no custom code for different blogs. Once downloaded for your blog, they will work the same for my blogs, and for my neighbours blog - with all blogs using dynamic views. This makes these blogs very stable.

Newsfeed content is simpler than web pages.

Non rendered newsfeed content is much simpler than rendered display pages. Once the template code is downloaded once, downloading the data is even quicker than downloading the templates.

Newsfeed content is read one display page at a time.

The newsfeed content is read from the Blogger newsfeed servers one display page at a time, and cached on each readers computer. As each blog is read, the most recent articles are at the top. Many readers, as with viewers, will never go beyond the first display page.

Displayed dynamic pages contain less formatting tweaks.

The displayed pages contain very little accessories and formatting, which is so popular with many blog owners, and which generates load on networks and processors.

Individual posts, when displayed, are already cached on the local computer.

When an individual post is displayed, the cached content is already right there, on the computer.

There are disadvantages to having all content cached, however.

The advantages, and the disadvantages, of the dynamic views originate from the same basic details - use of the blog newsfeed, and of a very simple and standard template. People who distribute their blog as newsfeed subscriptions have been asking the same question, for years.

How do I track my subscribers, as well as I track my viewers?

There is no easy answer to this need. With all content cached on the local computer, tracking reader activity is not so simple.

Tracking reader activity is a challenge - for both Blogger and non Blogger features.

Both third party visitor logs and meters, and the Blogger Stats feature, have problems providing details about our readers - with our blogs using the dynamic templates.

  1. Older installations of third party products use HTML / JavaScript, installed directly into the blog templates (generally Classic, but some Layout and Designer templates). The dynamic templates will not include this third party code. Newsfeeds contain only very simple text, and pictures, with no scripts.
  2. Newer installations of third party products use HTML / JavaScript / XML gadgets, installed as accessories into the header, footer, or sidebar sections of the display. The dynamic templates, right now, contain neither sidebars nor accessories.
  3. Stats reads the Blogger server activity logs, generated as rendered display pages are downloaded to the client computers. Newsfeed content may not require the same server activity, and generate comparable activity logs.

None of these features will be easily included in the dynamic views, without some rethinking of the simple and standard dynamic template structure.

  1. Blogger has suggested that they will provide support for JavaScript code, in the dynamic templates. We can install third party JavaScript code directly into the dynamic templates, making them more complex, and unique for different blogs.
  2. Blogger has suggested that they will provide sidebars, and support for accessory gadgets. We can install third party JavaScript code as sidebar gadgets.
  3. Similar to accessory gadgets used for third party JavaScript, or to JavaScript embedded into the templates, Blogger can provide additional code to drive Stats displays, and provide pageview counts, into the template code.

Unfortunately, all of these alternatives will come with a price. We will see increased code complexity, increased downloaded code volume, and increased network and processor activity on our computers.

In short, do not expect to see detailed visitor information, comparable to what we see right now in Stats or third party products, immediately - and watch for increased latency once these features are added.



Owners of #Blogger blogs occasionally observe discrepancies in visitor activity, when they change their blogs to use dynamic templates, and examine their visitor logs.

Some - but not all - changes come from reader reaction to the dynamic template displays and features. Other changes involve how the dynamic templates are processed, by the local computers being used by the blog readers.

Dude, hit me with a comment!

paschal gangmei said...

LOL... why leaving blog???.. i still dont know how to handle it well....