Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Something blew away half my template for this blog

This happens once in a while when I am getting the weblog template for one of my blogs hosted on Blogspot.com.

It has happened once or twice before tonight. Tonight, it happened to three blogs, all one right after another.

I was editing each one of their templates in a different tab of the same Firefox 1.5 web browsing window.

I do not know if the fault was a flaw in Firefox, a flaw in Blogger.com, or a transitory communications glitch. Right now I am not leaning toward believing it was the latter. It has never happened when I am using Safari to edit the template, though - I know that for sure.

I do know what the error was: a good chunk of the last part of my template for each blog just disappeared!

The failure, of course, I noticed when my published blog contained nothing but a command bar across the top, or not even that and just a little garbled Bloggerish-HTML.

My response to the problem was simple - though left me with a tragic loss. I lost my entire list of handy links (i.e. Blogroll) in the sidebar in two of my blogs, one of which was this one.

I was lucky that I had a browse of one of the blogs open in another browser before this blog apocalypse happened. I was able to clip out and save that one's sidebar definition directly from the HTML of that page.

Fortunately, Blogger does provide a way chose a new template - and you can use that to restore an old one to its factory-settings.

This problem has hit other people. I have seen it in the Blogger-help newsgroup, so I know I am not the only one. Having been hit by it 4 or 5 times on 2-3 occasions, I can attest it is a bear when it happens.

If anyone from Blogger ever reads this, here is what Blogger does not do, and what it appears it should do, in order to prevent problems like this in the future.

  1. Include marker comments or better yet blogger tags at the very beginning and end of the document
  2. Make sure those marker comments/tags are there BEFORE replacing the old copy of the template.
  3. Validate the blogger tags. If the last bunch of them are empty, do NOT just overwrite the template without asking first, showing the user the BEFORE and AFTER version of the template, and getting them to fix-or-confirm the change before proceeding.

People who write blogger.com templates and people who write Blogger.com template editors should study this advice and decide if they can help with this or not.

The morals of the story are:
  • have backups
  • do not panic, you might still have a copy of something in an editor/viewer buffer or on disk
  • consider your recovery options carefully
  • use whatever information the disaster did not destroy to help recover

I should have my page looking almost as good as new shortly. Although, I did not have a backup, things mostly broke my way on the other 3 points.


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