Travelvice Realignment: Blogger-Free Travelogue
I'm imprisoned by the limitations and changing (in)stability of Blogger no longer—welcome to the new Travelvice Travelogue.
I really fell for the WordPress blogging engine while developing the Compendium for this site a few months ago, and made it a point to reduce my reliance on Blogger as much as possible, as early as possible, in the New Year.
The visual redesign isn't radically different from what regular readers are accustomed to seeing on Travelvice, but brings with it a much-needed harmony between the content-specific sections on the site. The recent site-wide realignment has allowed me to enhance what I've learned works over the past few years, and what doesn't.
The redesigned travelogue has a larger font, fancy content subheadings, captions under inline photos, and no sidebar. Its linear, minimalistic style has been designed to reduce on-screen reading distractions, encourage (and reward regular) comment submission, and steer visitors more effectively after their finished reading. Advertising will take a backseat on the travelogue and snapshots gallery, as I channel my efforts into creating more content for the Compendium, not adverts on existing pages.
My ties to Blogger haven't been completely severed, though. I made the decision to retain all content published using Blogger, with Blogger. Although it's possible to migrate from one blogging system to another, retaining search engine placement for transferred pages (among other numerous complicated details) will keep me from doing so.
A Few Favorite Highlights
More than anything, I'm excited about the new commenting system. No one likes to have their typos published for all the world to see, and a great feature in place is the ability (for only you) to make edits shortly after your submission. Other goodies include the removal of the pop-up window to compose a comment, on-screen avatars, comment country of origin, and no moderation queue for repeat commenters.
The URL structure has changed (for the better). Gone is the archival year and month data, replaced instead by a much more contextually important address hierarchy: A "travelogue" subdomain with the country the post was written in. As a result, the URL looks cleaner, and is more informative in its raw form.
Lastly, I'd like to note that having both a Blogger and WordPress blog running concurrently presented an interesting problem regarding the archive list and RSS feeds. I was quite pleased when I finally succeeded in merging archive of both systems together (with real-time commenting counts).
But comments are left all over the travelogue, not just on the recent stuff, and it quickly became obvious that I had to figure out a way to blend both the comment feed from Blogger with the RSS feed from WordPress. This is where Yahoo Pipes came into play.
Yahoo Pipes allows you to do all sorts of interesting RSS filtering, merging, and sorting, and it didn't take long for me to establish a new stream to point at FeedBurner, the RSS distribution engine that works in tandem with Travelvice. Additionally, I was able to hack apart the WordPress RSS script to incorporate the post's title, location, and publication date alongside the content (it's always been a problem figuring out when/where I was from within a feed, as I occasionally postdate entries).
The real beauty of all this is that the feed(s) readers have been subscribed to will still be the same, regardless of the crazy stuff I'm doing behind the curtain. No changes for you are necessary.
Well, there you have it. This final piece of the realignment should keep Travelvice current for quite a few years.