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Friday, March 17, 2006

Create Blogger Categories with Labelr

Yet another post on ways to add categories to the Blogger template. I have posted on this topic several times before, while I experimented with and refined a hack involving Blogger's search function. Up til now, this has been the only workable solution (other than using Technorati or del.icio.us tags). I haven't been too happy with it, mainly because the matches produced were of poor relevance, despite all my tweaks.

I am currently beta-testing a new solution, Labelr, developed by Amit Upadhyay. You're seeing the results in the left sidebar. Give it a try. Click any category and matching posts will be displayed right in this blog, instead of in the Blogger search window.

Labelr is fairly easy to implement, though it could be better documented. It involves pasting a few short lines of code into your Blogger template and then assigning one or more labels to each post. Upadhyay has added some nice features, including a bookmarklet that lets you tag posts and manage categories on the fly.

There are a few minor issues yet to be resolved, but — so far — this appears to be an elegant solution to a vexing problem. (Note: if you use Norton Internet Security, you will have to disable its privacy settings to let Labelr work its magic.)

4 comments:

GB Shaw said...

Hi! I can't tell you what a great help your blog has been. Still trying to figure out the 3 column switch, but I've learned a ton already! I have a question, I know it's probably really basic, but I'm real new to this. I'd like to change font colors in my sidebar, but haven't a clue where to start. Can you help?

Thanks so much! George www.pomozeitgeist.com

Pam said...

Hi George. Thanks for the great feedback. Glad I could help. Re changing font colours, I don't know what template you're using and you don't say which style(s) you wish to change, but try opening up your template and locating the stylesheet section at the top. (Always start by copying the template to a backup file on your desktop, in case you mess up anything.)

Then just experiment with the styles. If it's the link colours you wish to change, you'll want to find the anchor tag style. It might look something like this:

a:link {color:#6600ff; text-decoration:none;}

a:visited {color:#ff66cc; text-decoration:none;}

a:hover {color:#ff9900; text-decoration:underline;}

Change the hex value beside the color label until you have something you like. You can use the colour tools I have blogged about before to find colours you like.

This may change the link colours throughout your entire site. To limit it just to the sidebar, you'll need to create or modify the sidebar style (I don't know what yours is called). It might look something like this:

#sidebar p {color:#ff80ff;}

This will format regular paragraph text purple, within the sidebar only. You can add similar contextual selectors to the sidebar for anchors, lists, ets.

Hope this helps,
Pam

Stuart said...

Pam,

One slightly problematical issue with Labelr. Let's say I click on a couple of category links - how do I move back through my browser history? My browser's 'Back' button is no longer functional! (Admittedly, this issue does arise with a few Ajax-powered solutions)

Labelr IS really quite neat, but we need to be careful when playing with user expectations - especially when it comes to browser behaviour!

Just something folks might like to bear in mind... :)

-Stuart

Pam said...

Hi all. Stuart's quite right. Labelr does break expected browser behaviour when it comes to the back button. It's a glitch that Amit is aware of and working to fix. I reported it to him, along with a couple of other minor issues.

In my (humble) opinion, these are minor annoyances for the payoff of getting lists of posts that truly are sorted by topic, rather than the loose match produced by the search hack I was previously using.

FYI .. Labelr could create another potential problem — one shared by many third-party solutions, including BlogRolling.com. If Amit's site goes down, Labelr could pull down all the blogs it hosts categories for. Amit is aware of this and working to fix it.

Pam