Locked, Loaded, and All Kinds of Nerdy

A photo of my Harley and I taken by my friend Katie.
Three day weekends always go by far too fast.  It also doesn't help matters that I usually slate some type of project (technical or otherwise) for myself when I am provided with that extra day.  After starting my weekend with a great 10-miler through the Oakland Hills, I decided to tackle the task of creating a blogger template to match the one I built for DailyDoog.com back in December.  I've been putting this project off for a while now, but as it was the only roadblock preventing my from blogging more frequently, I knew it was worth taking on today.

I had initially played around with the idea of taking the blog's feed and pushing it directly to AppEngine via the GData APIs, but quickly abandoned the idea when I realized I would have to rebuild a lot of Blogger's functionality from scratch.  One of the reason's I initially picked Blogger as my platform of choice (aside from the fact they are owned by Google) is because of the excellent Google+ integration they implemented about a month back.  As I am a fairly heavy Google+ user, the ability to link my Blogger and Google accounts while also being able to cross-post across the two was extremely appealing.

Having abandoned the idea of pushing my blog entries to an external platform, I took the approach of adapting one of the default templates provided when user's signup for Blogger.  I use the python template system Django at work, and I was really hoping the template system used by Blogger would be similar. Fortunately I was correct in that assumption, almost.  While Blogger now allows its users to opt-in to using their new dynamic templates (views), modifying the HTML/CSS for custom use is extremely difficult.  These dynamic views look great and are easy to modify as long as you are using the front-end editing system included in the Blogger design panel.  However, anyone actually trying to edit the HTML in-line should be prepared for quite a challenge.

My solution was to opt-out of dynamic views back into the classic templates, and from there I was able to easily drop variables for the page content into a modified version of my portfolio template.  The CSS and all of the images on the blog are still referencing cross-domain to everything I've uploaded onto AppEngine, and the entire transition went pretty flawlessly!  The major snag I ran into resulted from my use of the Museo web-font.  Because the actual font-file is contained on a different server than this blog, the font wasn't displaying at all when I referenced it in my stylesheet.  The result of this was that the entire blog looked like trash.  My workaround came after a quick google search lead me to this tutorial.  The fix, while a bit hacky, worked well.  Essentially, I embedded the web-font into the stylesheet itself, as opposed to referencing it's location on the external server.  The page time may be a bit slower, but it sure does look nice!

With a few more minor tweaks to the template, and after some adjustments to adapt to the dynamic nature of the blog posts, things have been up and running smoothly!  The commenting page, while working OK from a technical standpoint, looks like crap at the moment.  Hopefully sometime later this weekend or next week I will be able to style it correctly.

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A photo of my Harley and I taken by my friend Katie.