Monday, March 29, 2010

Creating a Shadow Blog

This article is about how to make a "shadow blog" - one that has the same structure as our real one, but less content, and which used only for testing.   


By Jérôme from Rouen, FRANCE
 [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (],
via Wikimedia Commons
Sometimes, before you make a major change to a blog (or even a minor change to a popular one), you will want to test it before applying it to your blog.

You may even want to go one step further than getting your posts right before you publish them, and actually test the "look" of posts before you put them into your main blog.  (After you have got your post complete in your shadow-blog, you can copy the HTML from the shadow to the main blog, so that the formatting etc is all carried over:   See How to copy an individual post for details)

A shadow blog has is a place where you can do this.   It has
  • The same structure as your real one, and
  • Just enough content so that you can do some changes and test if they're working properly:  generally two or three more posts than the maximum you show on any on a screen is enough.

To make a shadow blog, you need to
  • Create a new, private, blog with the same base template as your existing blog
  • Copy your existing template into it, and 
  • Copy some of your existing posts into it.

Detailed Instructions:

1  Make a blog to work with:

Find out what template your existing blog is using

In your existing blog, download a copy of your template.   (See the first part of Editing your template, if you're unsure how to do this.)

Save the downloaded file somwhere (remember where, you'll need it below).

Go to the Dashboard, and click Create a Blog.  Give it a name and URL like "testing-YOURBLOGNAME"

When Blogger asks which template to use, choose your current template, (if it's on the list shown), or just any template.

After the blog has been created, press Start Blogging, and then go to the Settings / Basic tab:   Set "Add your blog to our listings?" and "Let search engines find your blog?" to No   (since this blog is just for your testing).

Go to Layout / Pick New Template   (or to Layout / Designer Template if your existing blog has a designer template), and choose the same template that your existing blog has.

Go to the Templates tab, and choose Backup/Restore.

Click Choose File, and navigate to the downloaded template that you made earlier.

2  Get some posts to test with:

Choose whether to import all your existing posts into the testing blog, or just copy some individual posts

Any links in your posts won't be re-directed, so when you are testing, you will find that clicking any internal links in your posts will take you back to your main blog. If you are moving all posts, you could avoid this by opening the export file with a text-editor, and doing a fine/replace to change the main blog's URL to the testing blog's URL in any links.

Related Articles: 

Import all your existing posts

Copy an individual post.

What template does your blog use?

Editing your template

Polish your posts before you publish them to the world

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