Making a test-blog for template changes

This article is one of a series about preparing to change the template in Blogger.  It looks at how to make a template-test blog.  

Other articles in the series - coming soon - tell you how to use this template to plan your template change so that you don't lose any key features that you've installed before.

Steps to make a template-test blog:

1  Check your blog's post-template

Go into Design > Page Elements > Blog Posts (edit), and change one of the ticked items (just temporarily).    For example, show reactions or un-show an item that is currently shown.   Save this change, and check that it appears on your blog.

If the change is ok, then you can un-do it, and move directly to the next step.

But if they change doesn't show up, then you have a corrupt post-template.   You may want to re-set the post template and be sure that your blog is showing the items you want before moving on.

2  Create a new blog to work with:

Find out what template your existing blog has.

Go to the Dashboard, and click Create a Blog.  Give it a name and URL like "testing-YOURBLOGNAME"

When Blogger asks which starter template to use, choose your current template, (if it's on the list shown), or just any template.

After the blog has been created, press Start Blogging,

Go to the Settings / Basic tab and set
  • "Add your blog to our listings?" = No
  • "Let search engines find your blog?" = No  
3  Give it the same settings as your real blog:

In this step, you need to make your test blog have the same structure as your current blog.   This doesn't mean the same contents, just the same widgets and other background settings that affect how the blog looks.   The particular things you need to check include:

  • In the Settings / Basic tab, set all the other options (except the ones at the end of the last section) to exactly the same settings as your real blog has.
    • In the Settings > Formatting tab, do the same thing.
    • In the Settings > Comments tab, do the same thing.
    • Go to Design > Template Designer and choose the SAME template that your existing blog has.
    • Go to Design / Page Elements / Blog Posting, and give your test blog exactly the same settings as your main one:  this includes their position on the page, as well as whether or not they're displayed.
    • Go to Design > Page Elements, and use the Add a Gadget function to give your test blog EXACTLY the same gadgets that your main blog has. 

      This step is tedious if you have  a lot of gadgets.  But there are no shortcuts:  uploading the downloaded template would apply the template customisations as well as the gadgets, which defeats the purpose!   And even though it's a lot of work, it's worth it if your blog has a lot of "weight" (visitors, authority etc) an so you don't want to risk having it fail.
    If you have done any structural change to your template (eg I added a footer sectionto the Blogger-Hints-and-Tips blog), then you will need to do the same structural change to your test-blog as well.   This is ok, because you most probably will not be needing the same structural change in your new template. 

    If there are any gadgets on your main blog that you've been planning to delete anyway, it would be good to do this now - it saves having to re-create them in your test blog

    Technically you should apply any header images and the same fonts and colours too: I chose not to do this when I was preparing to move BHAT, because I didn't want to accidentally make an update to the test-blog which should have one to the real blog - having the colours and header look different reduced the chance that I would make this sort of mistake.

    3  Get some posts to test with:

    Choose whether to import all your existing posts into the testing blog, or just copy some individual posts. Or you may choose not to test with any at all (at this stage).

    Note:  Any links in your posts WON'T be re-directed, so when you are testing, you will find that clicking any internal links in your posts will take you back to your main blog. If you are moving all posts, you could avoid this by opening the export file with a text-editor, and doing a fine/replace to change the main blog's URL to the testing blog's URL in any links.

    Depending on what kind of tests you want to do, you may not need many posts.   Personally, when I was preparing to move BHAT I just did two.

    Related Articles: 

    Adding a footer section to your Layout Template blog
    Making a shadow-blog  for testing with

    Copying all your existing posts into a new blog

    Copying some posts.


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