Tag Archives: Blogger

Build a table of contents for your blog

Badge-BlogBytesAs we all know, a blog site presents its content in reverse sequential order. This is great for news or journal type blogs, but not the best for organizing a family history blog. Most blog platforms offer a page feature – the ability to create a page outside the blog’s sequential structure – which can be used to create your own table of contents.

Blogger page as table of contents

Blogger page showing page navigation at top of theme.

Blogger provides up to 10 pages (including the About page) which can be used however you see fit. In this example, I’ve created a page for my Chattooga County Barkers and added their family tree at the top of the page. I’m beginning to build links to specific stories already published in the blog. One of the beauties of building your own table of contents is that you don’t have to limit your links to your site. For example, I’ve got a family tree for these Barkers at WeRelate containing the genealogical details. Even though I don’t control that information (any WeRelate user can add to those pages), they are still the definitive resource for my family record so I’ll link each family group to their respective WeRelate page. Selected stories are posts I’ve written on my blog about specific family members, events or traditions. As I write more stories to “flesh out” a family’s history, I can easily reorganize these links into a different order to better present that family’s story.

WordPress users have the advantage of a complete paging system giving you the ability to build any number of family pages for each family you are researching and include some narrative while also using it as a table of contents for your blog articles and outside links. Pages have their own navigational system which can be displayed as top menus or sidebar menus, depending on your theme. And, best of all, WordPress offers nested pages which give you the ability to present your history in the traditional tree format.
WordPress pages editor

In this example, you can see that the Barker, Barrett and Gervais pages are children of the Family History page. The Gervais page serves as a parent of the South Carolina and Texas pages. My plan is to combine narrative with links on each of these pages. The view you see here is within the admin area of the platform. I can insert additional pages at any location within this structure when I have content to publish. For example, once I develop enough research to include a Mississippi “chapter” to my Gervais story (It was a long stop on the way to Texas.), I can insert it into it’s logical place between South Carolina and Texas.

Page AttributesCreating this hierarchy is simple. In the Page Attributes box in the right sidebar, select the page that will be this page’s parent and choose the order it will appear under that parent. In this example, I’m working on the Texas page which will be the second child of the Gervais page. When I’m ready to add the Mississippi page, it will become the second child and Texas will be edited to become the third. It’s that easy! The only drawback is that a page must be published before it can be selected as a parent. If it’s not ready for prime time, you can reset it to draft once you’ve made the connection to your child pages.

Even Tumblr offers pages although you’ll need to edit your theme to get to them. I’ve found that using a page to present a tag cloud – along with some text explaining what a tag cloud is – works almost as well as a traditional table of contents. This example is from my Genealogy 101 blog. You’ll find a tag cloud generator with instructions at heatherrivers.com.


Check to see what page options your blog platform supports and take advantage of them to spotlight your family stories while making them easier for your family to find.

Tech Notes – 16 Nov 2012

Cracker house on Moccasin Branch.

The turkey has been ordered but there’s lots of food shopping yet to do. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I’m ready to start celebrating. We’ll have a big crowd getting together just across the Creek at my cousin’s house – and they’re all great cooks! I can’t wait.


Great news for those who ordered the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ tablet! They’ve started shipping five days early. I’m looking forward to the reviews.

Evernote 5 for Mac was released this week and it is absolutely gorgeous. The entire interface has been completely re-designed and it is a delight to navigate. It’s hard to imagine how you make an awesome platform even better, but Evernote has done just that. Here’s a video tour of the new version.

Day One [iOS – $4.99] – the fabulous journaling app for Mac and iOS has just released v. 1.9 which adds search, tags (and hashtags) support and MultiMarkdown footnote support along with an in-app browser to view linked items without leaving the app. At this point, I only see the update for the mobile editions. Hopefully, the Mac app will be updated soon.

Camera+ users on iPhone and iPad have a significant update offering some very cool features. They’ve found a way to use the screen as a flash on the front-facing camera which could result in some amusing photos. The feature I’ll find most useful is the horizon level which will help me keep my photos straight. There’s a live exposure feature showing you exactly what settings you have along with many other improvements and bug fixes.

Mac users of Microsoft Office 2008 or 2011 should keep an eye out for several significant patches. These include both security patches and Outlook updates.

Blogger has updated their mobile app to include an iOS version. New features include the ability to compose in landscape view. The app is available at Google Play and the iOS App Store.

Flipboard  [iOS – free] – the news magazine app – has added the iBookstore as a source. It’s a delightful way to discover interesting books and you can purchase them from the iBookstore from within Flipboard. Even if you aren’t a big fan of Apple’s bookstore, this section is a great way to find something to read. I’d be delighted if they would also do this for Kindle, Barnes & Noble and other bookstores too.

Interesting Apps

Productive Macs has a $29.99 software bundle that includes TextExpander (normally $35) and iDocuments (normally $50) along with seven other useful apps.

Combine an iPad and the Wedding Booth app [iPad – $9.99] with some wacky accessories (funny hats, boas, oversized glasses, etc.) to create a fun guest book for a wedding. Just set the iPad up in front of a bench or some chairs and turn your guests loose. It takes 3 quick shots (photo booth style) and provides a place to write a note with your finger. I would love to see just a couple of modifications to give it non-wedding capabilities too, but just think how much fun you could have with something like this when the family arrives for Thanksgiving . . .


The Smithsonian blog has an interesting article on how to use Zotero and Mendeley to share your research in the cloud. I’m not familiar with Mendeley, but Zotero is the awesome – and open source – browser-based research assistant which helps you collect, organize and share your research.

MacWorld helps you restore your data from the cloud. You’ll also find useful articles on backup there.

That’s the tech news for this week. Have a great weekend!

Mobile Blogging

Badge-BlogBytesI’ve talked a lot about the Posterous blog platform where you post your articles by email, but you may already be able to do that with your current blog platform. Blogger, TypePad and WordPress.com offer email posting once you set up a special mailbox for your blogs. Like Posterous, the subject line in the email becomes the post title and the body of the message is the body of the post. All services accept rich text messages with images although they might “adjust” the underlying HTML to suit their posting format.

You can find instructions for posting by mail at the WordPress and Blogger support sites. TypePad has a comprehensive help system but it is behind the user login so I cannot provide a direct link.

As phones – and now tablets – offer more capabilities in the form of apps, you’ll find all kinds of apps to support your blogging. WordPress has built apps for both iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android devices that has most of the editing and organizing features you find in the online editor. They will also let you work in multiple WordPress blog sites [both hosted and self-managed]. The iPad version of this app is impressive and an easy adjustment from the online editing platform. These are all free apps.

TypePad offers an older mobile app for Palm OS, Windows Mobile 5 and Symbian Series 60 devices. They are free downloads from their site.

In the iOS market, you’ll find apps with blogging features. One good example is Mariner Software’s MacJournal – available for both iPhone [$4.99] and iPad [$5.99]. It posts to all the major blog sites. If you’re already a MacJournal fan using the desktop version, you’ll be right at home with the mobile versions.

If you’d like to browse the apps markets, you’ll find these sites useful:

Note that unlike the iOS market which is totally controlled by Apple, the Android market is wide open. You’ll find many sites in addition to the one listed above offering apps. There are many benefits to this, but also many concerns. Be very cautious when buying/downloading apps from unfamiliar sites. This is true for all desktop and mobile apps – not just Android.