Monday, May 31, 2010

 

Blogger on your site

Google recently announced that they no longer support FTP publishing in Blogger after May 1, 2010, citing low usage and the drain on engineering resources as the reasons. The article also cited reasons why people wanted their blogs published on their site rather than going for the hosted solution.

If you are one of the .5% of bloggers who for whatever reason published via FTP or the more secure SFTP, you were left with a choice of moving your blog to blogspot.com or a custom domain name, or moving to another blogging platform. Importing your blog into WordPress is easy, WordPress has some nifty features that Blogger lacks, and you will easily find professionally designed WordPress themes, too, but switching to WordPress means going with the hosted solution on wordpress.com or installing and maintaining WordPress code on your server.

For those who want to stay with Blogger and have Blogger integrated into the Website there are two options, both requiring some hacking and configuration:
  • Use the Blogger Data API to retrieve the blog in XML format and perform the rendering locally, most likely by processing the XML with XSLT stylesheets. While very flexible, this means losing the Blogger template capabilities.
  • Build a reverse proxy that translates requests for blog resources to the correponding URL on Google's servers. The proxy solution gives flexbility with URL formats and also allows for tweaking the generated HTML code before sending it to the browser.

The Blogger proxy solution

Here is how it works:
  1. Create backup copies of your blog in Blogger and on your server. The migration tool will update all previously published pages with a notice that your blog has moved, so you want to save the state of your blog first.
  2. Create a secret hostname for your blog in a domain you control, say secretname.example.com, and CNAME this to ghs.google.com. Don't limit your creativity, although the name really doesn't matter much. The migration tool checks that secretname.example.com is CNAMEd to ghs.google.com during the migration.
  3. Use the Blogger migration tool to move your blog to the new domain. At this point the blog will be up and running at secretname.example.com.
  4. Install a proxy script on your site which intercepts requests, rewrites the request as needed and sets a Host: secretname.example.com header, sends the modified request to ghs.google.com and rewrites the response to correct absolute links, and optionally tweaks the generated HTML code before sending the response to the browser.

  5. Configure the Webserver to invoke the script when no local content is available, for example in Apache

    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteRule ^$ index.html
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
    RewriteRule . /bloggerproxy.php [L]

  6. Google will eventually attempt to index your blog under secretname.example.com. To ensure a consistent appearance of the blog on your site, as the last step point secretname.example.com back to your Webserver and forward requests with that server name to your proxied blog using a 301 redirect.

Disclaimer: This solution is not for the faint of heart. It requires more changes and configuration than simply switching to a custom domain name, and isn't blessed or supported by Google. Use at your own risk.

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