Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dynamic Templates, As Part Of Blogger History

Recently, we've seen people who want to use a dynamic template on their blog - but are unwilling to put up with the limitations.
Why can't Google make its Dynamic View Template easy to customize?
and
Why can't I choose who I want reading my blog, and let my readers use a dynamic view?
and
Why should I publish my blog to a "Dynamic Template" - which appears to be Google speak for "It doesn't work at all."?
Not every Blogger blog owner realises why the dynamic templates work as they do, yet offer as few options.

To understand why dynamic templates work - or don't work - as they do, one should understand the history of Blogger blogs, and use of templates.

Until 2007, you could have any blog layout you liked - as long as you knew how to code HTML.

Any time you added a post to your blog, the entire blog had to be rebuilt, to link to the new post. The larger each blog got, the longer it took to publish one post. And adding an accessory to the blog meant excruciating suspense - and the risk of breaking the blog, completely.

In 2007, Blogger developed the Layout class templates. Layout templates use XML, and provide a whole new choice of XML coded accessories - gadgets - which can be added to the blog. They provided the "Page Elements" wizard, which let us add and rearrange accessories, in seconds, without risk of breaking the blog. And, for those who really want to use HTML coding, they continued to provide the Template Editor, and "Edit HTML".

One frequently used purpose for the Template Editor, for the Layout templates, was to customise the page layout - to add. rearrange, and resize the sections of the blog page. This continued to require the ability to think in "HTML" - and broken blogs continued to be a problem.

In 2010, Blogger added the Designer class templates. The template library provided with Layout templates - with its predetermined combinations of backgrounds, column layouts, and fonts and colours - became irrelevant. Expanding upon the concept of the "Page Elements" wizard (now "Layout"), they provided the GUI "Template Designer". This lets us separately select the background and style of the blog, the blog column layouts, and the various formatting options like colours and fonts.

Yet they continued to provide the Template Editor "Edit HTML" wizard, for features which could not be provided by the "Template Designer". Broken blogs, resulting from use of "Edit HTML", continued to be reported.

In 2011, Blogger provided a simplified blog structure, to encourage people who only want to publish a blog, and not worry about page layout. Dynamic templates give our blogs any of 7 different page layouts, chosen by each individual reader, within seconds.

With the dynamic templates, both the Template Editor, and the Template Designer, become less essential - reducing support issues from broken blogs, and freeing up engineers to develop newer features.

To reduce the load on the Blogger servers and networks, dynamic templates retrieve the blog content - posts and comments - as XML encoded data, using the blog newsfeeds. The newsfeed content is published on the computers of our readers, and served to them locally. Unfortunately, use of the newsfeeds requires publicly accessible blogs, as private blogs can't publish newsfeeds.

Also unfortunately, not everybody who likes the clean look of the dynamic templates - and is willing to provide their blogs to the world without restriction - is willing to settle for the currently limited accessory and formatting options. Some people still need to use the Template Editor and the Template Designer.

Neither broken blogs, nor confusion about changes made but not saved, will end completely. And dynamic templates will be susceptible to network problems, in ways that non dynamic templates are not.

Hopefully, as Blogger continues to develop the dynamic templates, and to add features and options, use of the Template Editor and Template Designer will be reduced - and gradually, the broken blog problem will become rarer. This won't happen immediately - but it will happen.

And use of the New Blogger Interface, and the menu structure which makes it possible to restrict access to the Template Editor and "Edit HTML", will help to reduce the broken blog problem even more.

>> Top

1 comment:

Frank Zhang said...

solid article, I chose to use the dynamic template because it is the only template where my embedded "comment" column is visible to audience.