Monday, September 19, 2005

Easy Categories for Blogger Users

Probably the most annoying things about using Blogger to run your blog is its lack of categories for your postings. As usual with technology, a big company's failures (Google in this case) means users need to create workarounds.

After getting asked this question a number of times, I decided to develop a solution which is easy to use once set up and requires less time or knowledge than other solutions out there which rely on Technorati, Delicious, or both.

All of these solutions work but to me they weren't complete. If you wanted the categories not to turn up results from other blogs when readers clicked on their links, you had to sign up for a Delicious account and manually bookmark your postings. If you avoid Delicious (many do), then you're stuck with generic Technorati tags. Plus if either of those sites go down, your categories are useless.

To solve this dilema, I decided to rely on Blogger's built-in search engine to create the categories. That way, if people can read your blog, they can use your categories. Plus, you can have as many as you like without worrying about organization.

Installing Blogger Categories
  1. Make sure you're using Mozilla Firefox as your web browser. If not, download and install it from
  2. Once you have Firefox, make sure the Bookmarks Toolbar is enabled. Check this on the View > Toolbars menu. If it's enabled, you should see a toolbar right beneath the address bar with some icons. Look at the screen in this picture right underneath the web page address bar. The toolbar with the red dinosaur is the Bookmarks Toolbar.
  3. Next, drag the following link onto a blank space on the toolbar:
    Categories: ';for(var i=0;i 0){a+=', ';}if (checkplus=='-1'){a+='
    '+tr[i]+'';}else {var chat='';var plus=tr[i].split(' ');for(var q=0;q'+tr[i]+'';}}a+='';prompt('Copy this code, press OK, then paste to your blog entry:',a);})()">Blogger Categories
  4. In the code box below, replace my blog's URL with your own. If your address is, look in the box for (it's in there twice way over on the right side of the box). Erase my URL and put yours in the box. Make sure to use no spaces.
  5. Click inside the text box, press Control+A to select all the text. Then copy it to the clipboard with Control+C.
  6. Finally, right-click on the icon you made in step 3, choose Properties. Erase everything in the Location box. Paste in the text you copied in step 5. Press OK.
Using Blogger Categories
  1. Write up your posting. When you're finished, press the "Edit HTML" button.
  2. Click inside the editing box, then move the cursor to the end of the file. Press the "Blogger Categories" button on the Bookmarks Toolbar.
  3. Follow the instructions on the box to assign one or more categories to your posting. Make sure to copy the code you get to the clipboard.
  4. Once the box is gone, press Control+V to paste in your category code. Push the "Compose" button to make sure everything is good. Publish as normal.
Code Box

Technical Info
  1. Blogger doesn't immediately update its search database. Therefore, your most recent postings will take a little while to show up in the categories list.
  2. If you haven't updated your blog for a while, your blog may not be indexed by Google's software.
  3. For best results, make the words you use for categories just a bit different from the words you use in your postings.
  4. My category hack also will make Technorati tags for any categories you create.
  5. Tip of the hat to "A Consuming Experience" for the basis of this code.

UPDATE 2006-07-11: I notice several comments on this post which I didn't see since I don't have time to check it repeatedly. If you want help, drop me an email!