29 May 2006

Blog categories

Starting today, all articles on this blog are organized into categories that are listed in the sidebar. This should make it easier for readers to find articles that interest them. Blogger, the host of my blog, is a powerful and flexible service but one feature is missing: it offers no way to organize posts by category. To find an article on India, for example, readers of this blog had to do a search or browse the archives. [Update December 2006: Blogger has introduced label management. See below for more information.]

Recently I discovered that blog categories can be implemented with the help of del.icio.us, a social bookmarking service. An article on Blogger Tips and Tricks describes an easy method to add categories to a blog. The steps are summarized below, for a detailed description please read the article Creating categories step-by-step.
  • Create a del.icio.us account that will be used only for your blog.
  • Add a del.icio.us bookmarklet or extension to your browser.
  • Log in with the new del.icio.us account name.
  • Bookmark all individual entries from your blog, or at least the most important ones. The tags are the categories that will be listed in the blog sidebar. In contrast to the guide at Blogger Tips and Tricks, I suggest starting with the oldest posts because this ensures that del.icio.us lists the newest posts first, similar to how they appear in your blog. I accomplished this by going to the monthly archives (beginning with the oldest posts), calling up the individual post pages by clicking on the date stamp at the bottom of each article, and tagging each page with del.icio.us.
  • Go to the help section on the del.icio.us site and select the Tag Rolls section under Blog Integration.
  • Customize the appearance of the tag list and copy the code at the bottom of the tag rolls page.
  • Log in to your Blogger account and paste the code to the sidebar section of the template.
  • Save the template and republish the blog.
The result can be seen in the sidebar of my blog, under the heading Categories. I selected a simple list with article count when I customized the tag roll, other options include a tag cloud and varying font size and color depending on the number of articles within each category. Clicking on a keyword, for example India, brings up a del.icio.us page with all articles from my blog that are filed under the respective category, with the most recent articles at the top. The complete list of tags for each article is also shown.

The tag roll code by del.icio.us creates links in colors that vary with the number of articles within each category. I had selected black for all links on the tag roll customization page. This yields a code that contains the part color=000000-000000, where 000000 stands for black (see this RGB color palette). The first number is the color of categories with the smallest number of articles, the second number the color of categories with the highest number of articles. I changed this part to color=114488-114488, which makes all links appear in blue. I have not found a way to underline the links or to change the font of the categories so that they match the rest of my blog.

Update 27 December 2006: Blogger introduced label management to a new beta version of its blogging service in October 2006 (read the announcement on Blogger Buzz). After the new version of Blogger was launched on 19 December 2006 (announcement on Blogger Buzz) I began using the new label feature for my posts. Blogger labels are now listed under each post. Clicking on a label leads to a page containing all posts with the particular label (example: all posts labeled "India"). However, I continue to list the del.icio.us tag roll in the side bar of my blog because it offers certain advantages. The main advantage of the del.icio.us tag roll is that it brings up a comprehensive list of all articles in a certain category, showing only the title and tags (example: all posts tagged "India"). I find this list easier to navigate than a page with complete articles. On the other hand, Blogger labels make it easy to combine all posts on a particular topic on a single page for printing or archiving. To be consistent, I use the same keywords to label articles in Blogger and del.icio.us.

Friedrich Huebler, 29 May 2006 (edited 27 March 2007), Creative Commons License
Permanent URL: http://huebler.blogspot.com/2006/05/blog-categories.html


Peter @ Enviroman said...

Hi Friedrich,

Thanks for commenting on my blog Blogger Tips and Tricks

Peter @ Enviroman said...

And for the links Blogger for Dummies

Peter @ Enviroman said...

One suggestion - make your categories blue. It is the standard color for links and that is what surfers look for when looking for links.
Firefox Alert

Friedrich Huebler said...

Peter, my color scheme uses blue for all links and a darker blue for visited links. For the categories I use the tag roll code prepared by del.icio.us and the links are black by default. After I read your comment I looked at the code again and found that it is possible to change the colors by editing the "color=000000-000000" part. I will add this information to my article. I am still looking for a way to change the font so that it matches the rest of my blog.

Anonymous said...

Got to know of your blog from blogger-tips and tricks. I too wish to incorporate categories in my blog. will do it soon...