J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

New Look for Boston 1775

Boston 1775 looks different today because I've upgraded it to Blogger's "Beta" programming. Blogger will require all its content providers to make that shift sooner or later, and I decided to try sooner because I've always wanted to give visitors the chance to navigate through postings by "labels" (called "tags" if you're not the Blogger company).

Now there's a long list of labels in the column to the left, under the archive of past postings. They turn out to be especially useful since the "Search This Blog" function seems less precise in the new programming. I'm still refining the tags (“handcrafts” or “handwork”? Or “fiber arts”? "Continental soldiers" or "American army"?) and adding them to existing messages. I hope they prove useful.

Another advantage of the new template styles is that it's easier to add to lists of links. For too long I neglected to list the blogs, websites, and real places that I like to visit and might be useful for people looking into Revolutionary Boston. Again, I'm still working on those lists, and every hour or so think of another item to add, but at least they're there.

Blogger tells its content providers that the jump to a new level will preserve messages' basic formatting, leaving behind only one’s individual modifications. The changes are actually more significant, particularly for the template I'd chosen (called Scribe). Furthermore, a glitch in the overall coding affects line spacing in text after a blockquote or bullet points. That's why Boston 1775 now looks even more dense than usual.

The new template uses a different programming language, which I know even less well than the old one, so making hanging indents in the sidebar column, labeling the permanent link, adding the special Scribe headers to the lists, &c., was a wrestle of several hours. So now I shall go and put a cold cloth over my eyes.

ADDENDUM: Some versions of Internet Explorer cut off parts of the left side of the column to the left. Others do even odder things. Either I can fix the code or the giant Microsoft corporation will make its browser compliant. We'll just see who blinks first.

ADDENUM 2: Okay, so I blinked. But I also discovered the problem, which was largely of my own making, and I did that work in the course of hacking yet another new design for Boston 1775—now with three columns!

1 comment:

elementaryhistoryteacher said...

Well, I hope the head swimmies are over. I tried to investigate the whole beta thing yesterday, but apparently you have to have invitation on your dashboard before you can switch over. I didn't make the first cut I guess because there was no invite when I checked. Maybe later.....I like the idea of tags and just haven't had the time to figure out how to do it on my own.

At any rate I'm sure you'll get it all worked out soon.....keep the washcloth handy though. :)