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Speaking to various people, I came to notice that the Link field isn't known to the general public too much. And those who know it, don't use it as its intended purpose. That's a little strange, considering the power a variable which holds data outside of a post can provide. So I'm going to try and explain its intended use, its more rampant use, and a script which modifies its use for the common man.

Intended use

The link field, as intended by Blogger (explanation), was meant to hold external links to posts. Many times, articles are related to each other which span over different blogs. They can be linked via links in the post. But somehow, if an article is derived from another article, then linking to it in a big way makes sense. Enter external links. If you haven't modified your template from a Blogger default template, try and add a link to your link field, and do a preview (by clicking the preview link on the top right). You'll see your title of the post changes to point to that link. Thats exactly what it does even on your blog (unmodified template ofcourse). If you see the titles of a few posts on my blog, you'll see a ~ prefixed. That means its a link. Click them, and you'll see they're linked to a post which is related to that post. Its a very good way of keeping people linked.

Rampant Use

I have seen people use this not for links, but a way of categorising their posts. Kirk (Phydeaux3) does it. Avatar (Bloggeratto) also does it. Gaby made a whole new category system based on it. It seems to be the easiest way to achieve this, since the data is held in a Blogger tag which is post specific, yet not a part of the post. All they need to do is write in the category names, and create a script to run through them and display the ones it needs to.

Very smart, but again, it defeats the purpose of a linked web. The titles are seen first and foremost with any post, and links within posts might be missed. But ones in titles will not. Which is why they're preferred to be used with titles (Blogger default setting).

Hybrid Link Field script

The idea from this stemmed because I want to see people use the link field for its original intended purpose. I wanted people to put links in there, but not break their current usage pattern. So I present to you, the Hybrid Link Field Use script.

The way to use this is very simple. In your link field you put in two kinds of details. The external link, and the categories a post is filed under. All seperated by commas (,). For example: http://somewhere.com, category-name-1, category-name-2. Leave the rest, for this script! :) To implement it, do the following. Put this bit of code in a pair of <script> </script> tags in your <head> area:

function extlink_tags(text, job, title){
    text=text.replace(/\s/ig, "");
    var part = text.split(',');
var tags = new Array();
    var output="";

if(job=='title'){
      
    for(var i=0;i<part.length;i++){
    if(part[i].match('http')) {output='<a href=\"'+part[i]+'\">'+title+'<\/a>'; break;}
            else {output=title; break;}  
    }
return document.write(output);
}
else{   
        for(var i=0;i<part.length;i++){
    if(!part[i].match('http')){
            output+="<a onclick=\"javascript:tags_s(\'"+part[i]+"\');\" title=\"View posts filed under "+part[i]+"\">"+part[i]+"<\/a> ";
            }   
    }

return document.write('Posted Under: '+output);
}

}

If you use my ABCI script, this code will automatically create links out of the category names it outputs, so that you click them and it'll load pull in the posts which are filed under that category. Now, put this part where you want your post title to appear:

<BlogItemTitle>
  <script>var link<$BlogItemNumber$>="";</script>
     
     <BlogItemURL><script>var link<$BlogItemNumber$>='<$BlogItemURL$>';</script></BlogItemURL>
       
        <script>
         if(link<$BlogItemNumber$>=="") document.write("<$BlogItemTitle$>");
         else extlink_tags(link<$BlogItemNumber$>, 'title', "<$BlogItemTitle$>");
       </script>
   </BlogItemTitle>

You can enclose this whole bunch of code within <div></div> tags so that you can style it anyway you want. Assign classes to them, and then use CSS to do so. This bunch takes into account your previous posts which might not have anything in the link field, so you have to go retro-linking your posts. You can start using it from the next post you make, and it'll show the change in that. Your oldies remain as they are!

Finally, the place where you want your categories to display as - Posted Under: (category name), put this line of code:

<BlogItemURL><div class="categ"><script>extlink_tags(link<$BlogItemNumber$>, 'tags', 'tags');</script></div></BlogItemURL>

That's it! You're done! I hope to see people begin to use the fields as they were meant to be used! Blogger can be such a powerful platform, sometimes people don't recognise its potential! Happy camping!

[Update]: My greasemonkey script (Del.icio.us tag reference adder) works perfectly with this script! Give it a go!


2 Comments

ah, i found this post refreshing, using the link field for link and the categories is something great to have..

=D




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