Sunday, April 18, 2010

Why Fight Progress?

Do you notice anything different about The Rap Sheet? Probably not, but something has certainly changed. This morning I converted from the classic Blogger template, which had served me well for almost four years, to the new Blogger template, with all its convenient widgets and gadgets.

I didn’t do this just to be “hip” and “with it,” but rather because I found that the classic template was causing problems.

A couple of months back, the Blogger powers-that-be decided--quite arbitrarily, I thought--that everybody using their software should reduce the number of posts appearing on any single page. So rather than being able to see two weeks worth of entries on The Rap Sheet’s front page, as you had before, you were suddenly restricted to reading just over a week’s worth of work. If you wanted something older than that, you had to go looking for it through one of the blog’s two Search windows (at the very top of the page and near the top of the right-hand column), or else troll for the material through the Rap Sheet archives.

This limitation only exacerbated a deficiency in the classic Blogger template that I’d already recognized: there was no way, once you scrolled down to the bottom of the front page, or any archive or labels page, to easily read on in the same month or category. While the new Blogger template features “Older Posts” and “Newer Posts” links at the bottom of each page, that was not a feature of the classic template. Again, this made searching for older material something of a pain.

I resisted making the transition from one template to another, because I had written a number of graphic design changes into the basic HTML formatting for The Rap Sheet. I wasn’t confident that I could figure out how to modify the coding in the new template to approximate the old. However, it turned out to be simpler than I had imagined. I ultimately had to accept a few minor differences, but I succeeded in customizing a template that preserved the best of the old Rap Sheet, while instituting some favorable alterations. Furthermore, the blog now looks pretty much the same, no matter which Web browser you’re using or how old your computer might be. (Previously, I’d found that some more “ancient” computers would shove the right-hand column of links down to the bottom of the page, as if they couldn’t handle the full width of this blog. That should not happen any longer.)

The new Rap Sheet format includes a wider main text column, giving more emphasis to that essay or news material in relationship to the right-hand sidebar. (This change might cause some alterations in art placement throughout the blog and the occasional appearance of “widows,” or single words left hanging at the bottom of paragraphs. But I’m just going to have to live with those design faults, and move on.) I’ve also added to the bottom of the sidebar a section titled “Selected Labels,” which will lead you to subject matter we have covered frequently in The Rap Sheet. And converting to the new Blogger template finally reveals the names and mugshots of Rap Sheet “Followers,” people who visit this blog and enjoy it regularly.

As you become familiar with this revamped Rap Sheet, let me know if you have any thoughts on the changes that have been made, or if you discover anything that isn’t working properly.


Naomi Johnson said...

If you hadn't mentioned it, I wouldn't have known.

Marlyn said...

I've thought about switching to the new template a number of times. It seems like a heckuva lot of work. I may consider it again, after hearing your story.