Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Blogs, Blogger, bloggers, Posts, Pages and Screens - some basic definitions

This article defines some of the basic words if you are using Google Blogger.  It is helpful if you are just getting started, and need to accurately describe a problem you are having.   It is part of a series of articles about getting started with Blogger.

Google, Blogger and Blogging, Posts

Google, the noun, (sometimes called Google Inc or Google Ltd) is a company.  They became famous by creating a very, very useful search engine.  Since then, as well as making the search engine even better, they've created (or purchased) lots of other tools as well, and become rich by selling on-line advertising space inside their tools.

Using their most-popular tool (www.google.com), you can google (a verb), ie search, for things.    (The same way that you can hoover the floor, or xerox a piece of paper.)

A blog is a "binary log", which is just geek-ese for "a diary you keep on the internet".   A blog can contain anything you want to write, for example:
  • a fantasy story that you made up, 
  • a factual account of your life, 
  • your opinions about politics
  • newsletters from a club you belong to
  • information about your business and the services you offer
  • and many many more

Blogger is a piece of software (ie a computer program) provided by Google, which lets you create a a blog.

A blogger (small b) is a person who writes a blog.  They may use Blogger, or various other types of blogging software (eg WordPress, TypePad)

A Post is the basic item that you publish onto your blog.   After you have been blogging (writing a blog) for a while, you blog will (usually) have many Posts.

Pages - AKA Static Pages

In regular websites, a page is roughly the same as a screen (at least as far as anyone who reads this article needs to know).

Until recently, most documentation about Blogger talked about Pages as through a Page was something that showed one or more Posts.  (More about these soon.)

However Google introduced a new feature, called Pages, into Blogger in early 2010.

These Pages were intended for bloggers who want some material on their blog which is slightly different from the rest:  it's not part of the usual material that they publish, and stays current and relevant in a way that older posts don't.   Typical pages content includes contact-details, frequently-asked-questions, or "about this blog" statements.

Pages are edited using a tool that is similar to the Posts editor, but they have some small differences:  eg they don't have a publication-date so they don't appear in the Archive.  (See here for a full description of the difference between Pages and Posts.)

Pages also have a gadget all of their own (called the Pages Gadget), which can be used to give a "menu bar" at the top, or bottom, or in the sidebar of your blog.   

A key difference between regular websites and blogs is that Posts don't go onto Pages:  all your Posts go onto what feels like the "main page", and the other pages are for reference materials only.   There are ways around this, eg using labels to categorise your blog, and making it look like you have put posts into pages by making a horizontal linked-list of label-search statements instead of the standard pages gadget, but even this isn't quite what many people expect.

Some people refer to Pages as Static-pages, to try to avoid the confusion.  I don't use that term because:
  1. It's not the term that Google/Blggger uses, and
  2. Some of the target information (eg contact details for a club) is not static - it could change many times over the life of the blog.

Templates and Collections of Posts

A Template is a control file that determines how a blog will look.  Blogs that are about different topics may use the same template:  their content will be different, but they will look very similar to a person who reads them.

I have recently started using Screen to refer the display that Blogger generates each time that someone looks at your blog.

A Posts Screen may show 1,2, 3 or even dozens of posts.   The number of posts shown is controlled by an option that the blogger sets using the Layout > Blog Posts tab, and by a Blogger-controlled feature called auto-pagination, which restricts overly large collections of posts, so that Blogger works more quickly overall.
If a blog has a Layout or Designer template (see Types of Blogger template), then there are links near the end of each screen for Newer Posts and Older Posts:  clicking them take the user to a new Screen, which shows a set of newer or older posts.

There are other types of Screen also:
  • If a blog has a Labels gadget, then clicking as option in it opens a List of Posts screen showing all published Posts in the blog that have the corresponding Label.
  • If a blog has an Archive gadget, then clicking an option in it opens a List of Posts screen showing all published Posts in the blog that were published in that time period.

Related Articles

Getting started with Blogger

The difference between Pages and Posts

Types of Blogger template

Using labels to categorise your blog

Making it look like you have put posts into pages.

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