May 02, 2006

Audience

People using Movable Type on Yahoo! Web Hosting who want to ensure that their blog feed includes the proper permalink when viewed in Grazr

I expect this is a very small set of people.  (Actually, it may be a larger set than I thought, since as the Update below indicates, it's not specific to MT on Yahoo, or to Grazr, but to Movable Type.)

I originally wrote this for a friend who is migrating to MT-Y, but it's possible it could help a few others too, so I thought I'd share it here.

Problem 

Movable Type produces an ATOM feed in which the entry permalink URLs lead to an interface to edit the blog article.  Instead, they should point to the standard entry permalink, so readers can view the article.

Update: 2006.11.09

Apparently this is in fact a Movable Type issue.  Note that the Release Notes for Movable Type 3.3 (Beta-1) acknowledge the following "bug fix": 

21918: Atom Index does not produce valid feed

BUG FIX: Removed Atom 1.0 link relationships 'service.post' and 'service.edit' from the default Atom index template until they are more widely recognized by feed validators. In the meantime, developers can glean this introspection information from the Movable Type RSD file (rsd.xml).

Grazr provides a great way to let people graze your blog's feed, (see the "Recent Entries" on my blog's Grazr panel) but the link at the end of each article should point to its permalink, not to a way to edit the article.

SCREENSHOT Grazr link to file

Default link:

http://domain.com/blog-mt/mt-atom.cgi/weblog/blog_id=1/entry_id=1

Desired link:

http://domain.com/blog/path/to/article-permalink.html 

Even if you don't have a Grazr panel on your blog, people may use Grazr to render your blog's feed, so you probably do want the link at the end of each article to do the right thing.

This problem doesn't appear to apply to "traditional" feed readers, at least not Bloglines & Newsgator (the only ones I've checked).

I don't know if this is a Grazr problem or an MT-on-Yahoo problem, but that's not important; I've found a way to solve it that seems to work.  (See update above.)

 

Solution

Edit atom.xml template and rearrange the order of the "<link rel=" elements, so  $MTEntryPermalink is the last one.  (Or, just delete the "<link rel=service.edit" line.)

(I wrote these instructions before I knew for sure that it was safe to delete the service.edit line, so they apply to rearranging the order of the elements.)

I'm pretty sure this is happening because Grazr is using the last "link rel" as the link to the article (which may be a perfectly reasonable thing to do).  The one we want feed readers to use is the line that contains "$MTEntryPermalink".  Putting that line in the last position solves the problem:

  1. Backup atom.xml
    1. Blog control panel - Templates - click atom.xml
    2. Copy contents of "Template Body"; do not save
    3. Blog control panel - Templates - Create New Index Template
      • Template Name: "Atom Index Backup - YYYY.DD.MM"
      • Output File: [blank]
      • Link this template to a file: [blank]
      • Template Body: Paste what you copied from the original
      • Build Options: Uncheck "Rebuild this template automatically"
      • Save
  2. Rearrange the order atom.xml
    • Before:
      • <MTEntries lastn="15">
        <entry>
            <title><$MTEntryTitle remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></title>
            <link rel="alternate" type="text/html" href="<$MTEntryPermalink encode_xml="1"$>" />
            <link rel="service.edit" type="application/atom+xml" href="<$MTCGIPath$><$MTAtomScript$>/weblog/blog_id=<$MTBlogID$>/entry_id=<$MTEntryID$>" title="<$MTEntryTitle encode_html="1"$>" />
    • After:
      • <MTEntries lastn="15">
        <entry>
            <title><$MTEntryTitle remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></title>
            <link rel="service.edit" type="application/atom+xml"  href="<$MTCGIPath$><$MTAtomScript$>/weblog/blog_id=<$MTBlogID$>/entry_id=<$MTEntryID$>" title="<$MTEntryTitle encode_html="1"$>" />
            <link rel="alternate" type="text/html" href="<$MTEntryPermalink encode_xml="1"$>" />
  3. Save and Rebuild the template
  4. View your blog's feed in Grazr, and click on an article to confirm that the "Go to site / Read More" link at the bottom points to the article's permalink.  (Update: In newer versions of Grazr, the permalink is represented by the pound sign: '#'.)

April 23, 2006

I've finally gotten around to taking a cue from my brother-in-law's smart idea, and decided to spin off a personal blog. This is a good way to insulate my family and (some) friends from my more technical writing and share more personal stuff with them.

If you know me and don't have the address, let me know, and I'll send it to you. If you don't know me, you probably won't find much of interest in my personal blog. If you want to read both at once, create a feedmix.

I know I'm going to run into situations where I'll want to cross-post, but I'm not sure what is the best way to do this. I guess for now, I'll just post an intro/pointer from one to the other, but I'm curious how others have done it.

February 25, 2006

Final Move 

As a "birthday present to my blog", I'm making today the day I write my last post at blogharbor.com.  I was happy enough hosting it there, but I finally chose a domain name, and found great value hosting my blog with Yahoo! Web Hosting.

From now on, my blog will live at:

http://jameselee.alwaysaskwhy.com/blog


It'll take me a while to really do all that I want with Movable Type, the software I'm using to publish my blog, I've still got a lot of kinks to work out, and I'm nowhere near done moving all my content, but it's time to make the move, which I hope will be my last.  I'll leave my old blog up for a while as I continue to migrate/back-fill, but I'll probably take it down in a few months.

Hpy Bdy pic

(Thanks to schmitee for the photo!)

It was one year ago today that I posted my first blog article!

I've been a bit surprised to see how much blogging has changed me; finally, I've started writing on a regular basis, something I've been meaning to do for several years.

I'm happy to have made some progress moving to my blog's new home, at http://jameselee.alwaysaskwhy.com/blog, where I expect to stay a while, since it's my own domain name.

I've thoroughly enjoyed this first year of blogging, and look forward to many more to come!

November 25, 2005

 

What?

My blog has moved, and I figure the best way to make people aware of this is using my blog!

Update: 2006.02.09 - I decided to get my own domain name.  My blog's permanent home is:

http://jameselee.alwaysaskwhy.com/blog/

 

Why?

FortuneCity, the company that ran myblogsite.com (where I had my first blog) decided to get out of the blog hosting business, so I migrated to blogharbor.com, their recommended alternative.  The migration was fast, and so far seems to have been done flawlessly, with the notable exception that all of my links to my own articles still point to the "myblogsite.com" domain; that's actually a pain, since I've referenced my own articles quite a bit.  I may contact their support department and see if they can do a quick s/myblogsite/blogharbor/g on all my posts...

I'm not sure I should have to pay for blog hosting anymore than I have to pay for email, but I need to do some more thinking and research before reaching a conclusion about that.  For now, I have BlogHarbor's 30 days of free trial until I have to really decide.

Aside from the post editor, which I don't like, I very much like this blog hosting platform, so I hope to end up somewhere that either provides it or something better.  If you know of a better platform (see my post on why I like myblogsite.com, which mainly was about the platform), drop a comment!

 

Update: Since writing this, I moved to Movable Type on Yahoo Web Hosting, with my own domain name, so a lot of the above no longer applies.

October 29, 2005

Problem


I'm very happy with my blog hosting service, but I don't care for the online post editor they provide.  It's a small, cramped window, doesn't even have a button for bulleted lists (a basic formatting element!), and is really slow to save changes (I'm getting spoiled by all these web apps that use AJAX!). 

I know there are several standalone blog post editors out there, but I don't need a lot of bells and whistles, and I'd rather not have yet another piece of software to manage.

Solution


I really like using Gmail to compose email, I've long been using it as my "thought pad" to write down quick ideas, so it was a natural next step to start using it to write blog posts too.

 

Gmail is a nice solution to my problem because it:

  • has a good rich-text editor (with bulleted lists!)  whose output pastes into my blog host's editor with no problems
  • auto-saves drafts, a great new feature
  • provides a large editing window
  • is fast - keyboard shortcuts!
  • is lightweight - I don't have to install any new software or wait for an application to load
  • is familiar - I use it for email
  • has spell-check, which I don't use much, but could come in handy
Yet another reason I'm happy to have switched to Gmail!


Update: 2006.01.13

I was happy to notice that the post editor has been released from "absolute size jail", and now scales in width according to the width (though not height) of the browser window!  I still prefer Gmail's rich-text editor for various other reasons, but this is certainly a step in the right direction!

Sidenote

I've been disappointed to see so much absolute sizing on the web in general and blog templates specifically; why not enable the reader to determine the best page dimensions?  This also has the benefit of improving usability among various devices.

Update: 2006.01.20

John, who works for BlogHarbor.com, emailed me: 

 

James,

I saw your post here:

 http://jameselee.blogharbor.com/blog/_archives/2005/11/25/1421679.html

where you talked about the posting editor... I have an option for you...
Check out this post:

 http://forums.blogharbor.com/viewtopic.php?p=4502#4502

where I talked about a Firefox extension called "Xinha Here!" which you
might find more to your liking. I see you're a Firefox user already, so
this might be an extension you find useful.

Hope this helps,

John Keegan

 

 

As I said in my reply to John, I think it's cool that BlogHarbor support staff bothers to become informed about customer's comments, and does so using the technology they support!

 

Update: 2006.02.04 

John, who works at BlogHarbor.com, wrote: 

Did you know that you can post to your weblog by email? Use your favorite gmail editor to compost your articles, click send, and they will appear on your blog. Learn more about BlogHarbor's moblogging support.

April 05, 2005

I'm in the process of evangelizing blogs & feeds to my friends and family, and just saw Michael Hyatt's post, How to Read Blogs on his blog, Working Smart (one of the first productivity-related blogs I found).

The article Michael references provides a good introduction to reading blogs. Although I could link directly to the article, Michael already wrote a nice introduction, and should get the credit for the reference. Plus, his blog is worth a look, so I've linked to his intro rather than the actual article.

Feed readers -- the tool of choice for reading blogs -- are important technology and will dramatically improve our ability to manage information more efficiently. As the referenced article's author says, it's tough to convince people of why they should read blogs. I think, though, that we can at least help them do so efficiently, and the benefit of feed readers is that they are useful for any syndicated content (e.g. AP news), not just blog content per se. So, even people who aren't "into blogging" can get value from feed readers.

February 26, 2005

I did consciously choose to host my blog here at myblogsite.com (which exited the blog hosting business since I wrote this), but I confess I didn't do a lot of research.

(Interesting sidenote: I saw the link to this site in an ad in my Gmail session.  I know Google owns blogger.com, but I didn't see an ad for that site.)

I'll talk more about why here another time, (I want to go for a drive!) but l did look at blogger.com, livejournal.com, and a few for-pay sites, and this looks (again, based on not much research) like the most full-featured free site.

 

Update: 2005.03.17

When I first looked at blogger.com, I wasn't as impressed as I'd hoped. Either they've made improvements since then, or my initial look wasn't as thorough (likely) as it should have been; it looks a bit better/easier.  (And though I'm a "computer guy", I want blogging to be super easy; I have enough computer-related problems to deal with.)

In any case, I setup a blog at blogger.com to see what I think of it in contrast to myblogsite.com.

I do wish Google would take a lesson from Yahoo and let me have a single account with Google and attach various services (e.g. gmail, blogger) to it. I already have a gmail account, but had to create a new account at blogger.com, which is owned by Google.


A few minutes of working with it reminded me of one of the big differentiators for me: Categories.

myblogsite.com allows you to have categories, which work in the same way as Gmail's labels. (Ironic that Google's own blog hosting service doesn't have this. I know they didn't initially develop blogger.com, but still.)

For reference, here's a comparison of features. I should have re-read that before even bothering to sign up at blogger.com.  It does have some cool features, and I may check it out again, but for me, categories are a deal-breaker.  I need to write an article about the use of categories/tags/labels one of these days...

Update: 2005.03.21

In addition to providing categories,  myblogsite.com also lets you tag posts with keywords, which, as the help documentation points out, can lend context and improve search results. 

They make a good point about this that I hadn't considered; it's conceivable that one might make a post related to a topic without ever directly mentioning the topic.  Their example is a post talking about replacing drywall and carpet in the context of a renovation project, but the post doesn't contain the word "renovation".  Adding a keyword ensure that it would turn up in a search about renovation.

Update: 2006.02.25

Now I've moved my blog to its new, probably permanent home, at http://jameselee.alwaysaskwhy.com/blog, hosted by Yahoo! Web Hosting.

 

 

Well, contrary to my initial thinking, I realized I do have some stuff to say that could warrant me having a blog. I'm sure it's not all relevant to the world at large, but that's why they invented choice.

If nothing else, I think I'll use this as a place to keep a record of my thoughts and ideas related to information & knowledge management, user interface design, and information technology in general. I'm sure other stuff will creep in too.

It's probably also a good excuse to start keeping a journal, as Ania and I keep meaning to do. Maybe one day our kids will look back at our old-fashioned blog entries to learn about us...

Anyway, welcome to my debut in blogspace!

February 25, 2005

I was getting tired of trying to figure out a good way to keep track of the cool stuff I've been finding online (more and more in blogs these days), so I did a little research and found Bloglines, which showed me the value of using a feed reader, something I didn't realize I needed until I tried it.

One of the main reasons I started using Bloglines is because of their "Clip Blog" and "Clippings" features, which allow you to save blog entries you read via Bloglines to either your own Clip Blog (which you can make public to share with others) or your private "Clippings" folder.

Update: 2005.06.10

Goodbye Clip Blog, hello Furl - I've completely abandoned my Bloglines clip blog in favor of Furl, a service that does a lot more than Bloglines' clip blog, and is a much better tool for keeping track of anything (not just blog entries you read in Bloglines) you find on the web.

Update: 2006.02.02

Switched from Furl to del.icio.us for most things.

There may be others and/or better feed readers out there, but none has yet jumped out at me.  I think Bloglines could/should be stronger in the blogging department, (I have yet to figure out, for example, if I can have another Bloglines blog aside from my Clip Blog, but I've just begun learning about all this) but I'm not sure that's their focus.  They seem to be one of a small number of web-based aggregators who see the value in providing some blogging service (specifically Clip Blogging) together with aggregation.

Now you can keep track of the stuff I find online at your discretion, and without me having to constantly send you email.  It's one of the great things about the "publish and subscribe" paradigm!

Update: 2005.05.08

I inserted this section months later, after having written it as part of an article about using Bloglines to track packages.  I think it belongs here, because I didn't really cover the other uses for Bloglines before, as I'd just begun to understand all this.

Feed readers are not just for blogging!

Many people think Bloglines and other feed readers are just tools for people who are "into blogging". They are indeed a great way to keep up with constantly-changing information, such as blogs, but they're useful for much more than that. We'll soon start to see more benefits of feed readers, because RSS -- and "web feeds" in general -- are very versitile and powerful technologies/ideas. We're just starting to see innovations in how feeds can be used (for example, to keep up to date on the status of a package).

RSS newspaper icon
Feed technology is used for syndicating much of the news information on the Internet right now. News agencies & web sites have known about the advantages of syndication for a long time - think AP. But they're using syndication so their servers can exchange news information; Feed readers allow people to start realizing the benefits of syndication for all kinds of content. For example, all this incoming information generated by syndication soon leads to a need for more efficient ways to manage it, which leads to the use of feed readers to bringing it all together in one place.

To see if a web site you read provides a feed, look for the words like "Site Feed", "Atom", "RSS", or "XML" often in small orange buttons, like this: RSS icon ATOM icon XML icon. Update: A new movement has has been started to standardize on a universal feed icon that looks like this: Feed icon

Hopefully, this gives you a sense of why you'd want to use a feed reader. Most (like Bloglines) are free, and it's easy to get started!