Creating a Sideblog

Having seen some great "sideblogs" across the internet (Christine's Crumbs, Movablog's Asides, and many others) I'm inspired to add a Sideblog to my own MT-powered blog. Anders created a short "how-to" for those who are not using php and it has inspired me to create a php version here.

What is a Sideblog?
First, I guess it would be important to understand the "what" of the whole Sideblog phenomenon. A Sideblog could have many purposes, but is generally used as a quick link repository. For me, if I see something that was really interesting, but I didn't feel connected enough to blog it – I would post it in the Sideblog. The Sideblog would then be included in the main blog.

How to create a Sideblog in MT
A Sideblog is basically a new weblog that gets included in your original blog. The steps are very painless. The creation steps are universal. The include steps presume you are using php. Anders has an SSI version of these instructions as well.

  1. Create a new blog in MT's main menu. I've called mine "Sideblog".
  2. Create a basic index template that shows just the html that you want to include in your main blog. I strongly suggest that you implement some type of limit on the number of entries displayed. For example:

    <MTEntries lastn="15">
    <MTDateHeader>
    <br />
    <$MTEntryDate format="%Y-%m-%d"$>:

    <br />
    </MTDateHeader>
    <$MTEntryBody$><br />
    </MTEntries>

  3. Exit the Sideblog and edit the main index template for your existing main blog. We want to include the index page from the Sideblog, so we'll use a php include. For example:

    <?php
    include("http://www.to-be-simple-just-use-full-web-path.com/sideblog/index.php");
    ?>

That's it! Now you can post to your Sideblog and (if you use the template I've shown) the 15 most recent posts will show up in your main blog.

How to use the Sideblog

There are a lot of variations on using the sideblog. Some people post the interesting link in the excerpt and use the extended entry to include a brief little message about it. I suggest posting the interesting link in the entry body and then any other comments I have on the link in the extended entry. That works for me in my testing. Your mileage may vary.

Variations
There are a lot of ways to "spice up" the sideblog. Since we just included the index template from the Sideblog into the main blog, all of our template tags are available to us. For example, Christine's Crumbs show the number of comments for each Sideblog post as a link to the Sideblog entry itself. This is a great way to allow your visitors to interact with your Sideblog. If we modify the template in #2 above, we can just add the following after <$MTEntryBody$> and before the <br /> tags to mimic Christine's Crumbs:

(<a href="<$MTEntryLink$>"><$MTEntryCommentCount$></a>)

You can additional spaces to separate the interesting link from the comment count or modify the code to include any detail you like. I like the way Christine's works, so I plan to use the comment count on my own Sideblog.

That's all there is to it. Again, we just include the MT tags directly from the index template of the Sideblog. There are other ways to accomplish this, but I think this is the simplest of them all!

29. June 2003 by Kevin Donahue
3 comments

Comments (3)

  1. Just to be 100% honest and offer "full disclosure", I want to say that I'm not using my above listed code. I decided I may want to use the Sideblog for other things down the road, so I've changed the directions just slightly.

    *I created a new index template called "sideblog.php". That's what I call in my php include over in the Sideblog.

    *Here is the full "sideblog.php" template I'm using:

    <MTEntries lastn="15">
    <$MTEntryBody convert_breaks="0"$> (<a href="<$MTEntryLink$>"><$MTEntryCommentCount$></a>)<br />
    </MTEntries>

    Everything is else is exactly as advertised. Sorry for the confusion!

  2. I'm thinking about making a separate blog for the movies I post about. I'll probably do something like this sideblog with it, but also have the new entries show up on my main blog index page using an MT plugin. Just thinking out loud… Thanks, Kevin! :)

  3. I have a "media" blog in addition to my "cookie crumbs" blog. I display the movies I've seen and the books I've read further down in my sidebar using the media blog. Personally, I think microblogs *rock* – mine was inspired by Anil Dash – I always find cool goodies on his!