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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Site Crashes Can Be Caused by Third Party Utilities

Man! I feel like I just slid back down to the beginning of the blogging learning curve. The polls are back (at the bottom of the left-hand sidebar, if you want to experiment with them). These little utilities were not causing the hanging problems experienced with this site today. I was too quick to blame and did not investigate carefully enough.

When my blog began hanging and refusing to publish today, I wrongly assumed it was because of the polls. I had included that code in the Blogger template recently, but I also created a blogroll (auto-updating list of favourite sites, for those newer to this than I) around the same time.

My blogroll is hosted at BlogRolling.com. It was a snap to create and install in the Blogger template and — until today — it was working like a charm. I was delighted with the ease with which I could not only create a blogroll but also add new sites on the fly, with a click of the mouse. Infinitely better than hand-coding a bunch of links.

Now, I'm having second thoughts. The BlogRolling.com site is down today and that unhappy circumstance brought my site down too. I'm not just talking about a delay in the site loading, but a crash that produced all kinds of nasty error messages and prevented me publishing at all.

The fix, once I figured out what was happening, was simple enough: First, back up your template. Then, instead of assuming the cause and rushing to delete the suspected offending code, as I did, comment out blocks of code and re-test until you have identified the culprit. As soon as I commented out the BlogRolling script and tried re-publishing, Blogger stopped hanging and behaved itself.


Karen said...

I had the exact same thing happen to me yesterday due to a blogroll hosted through a third party. My blog came up, but all of the entries had simply vanished. When I was finally able to access the dashboard (through the back door, I might add), I removed the code and everything popped back into place.

Javascript "blinkies" also cause problems sometimes.

Having cutsie stuff is fun to have, but they can cause problems sometimes.

Love your blog, keep up the good work!

Pam said...

Thanks for the kind words Karen.
I don't know if I'd classify blogrolls as just "cutsie stuff," though. When they work, they're a really useful tool that saves a ton of time. The ability to add new entries on the fly, AND have them automatically appear on your blog, sorted any way you want, is brilliant.

Think I'm going to make backing up this blog a priority though!