Wednesday, 28 November 2007

TIP - Polls in a Post

Time to get 'down and dirty' with an attempt to include a "Poll in a Post".

If it works, at least David is going to be a happy turkey!

Here goes ...


1. Backup your old template!


2. The object of this exercise is to let the Blogger engine do all the work and for us to simply copy and paste the result into the space (the Post) that we want to use it in. With that in mind, it is time to generate a Poll that Blogger will happily build for us and stick in the R/H panel wherever we choose to put it.



3. Here is the Poll, displayed in all its glory in the sidebar of the page. It is necessary to actually 'publish' the Poll to have the code generated, but it won't remain here for long, so where you place it is quite irrelevant:



4. Now comes the cunning part. Right-click anywhere on your page and select 'View Source'. The resulting HTML code will be shown to you in your text editor, probably Notepad, because you've not taken my advice previously and downloaded EditPad Lite. "Leading a horse to water ..." is the phrase that springs to mind but hey, each to his or her own!



5. Do a search for Poll1 (if you already have Polls on your page, then this might be different, i.e. Poll2, or Poll3, or Poll4) in the text editor (much easier if you're using EditPad Lite!) and when the required 'word' has been found, you will see almost exactly the same code as I've displayed in the screencap below. I've highlighted a couple of areas in green and yellow as they become important a little later, but for the moment just remember that this is the Poll ID that Blogger has built for you.

Copy the code from the first "<div" to the last "</div>" of the area I've highlighted in the screencap (no, no, NO ... not the screencap ... your text editor!) and paste it into a new page (much easier in EditPad Lite because of the tabbed display!):



The next image is for INFORMATION only. It shows how the same code looks in a Blogger template and if you have an interest in this stuff, compare it with the HTML above to see how 'Blogger-speak' works:



6. Here comes the 'fiddly' stuff!

  • Go to the piece of code you saved in the last step.
  • Add this line of text at the top (copy/paste if you wish)
    <div align='center'>
  • Change the height to '160'. This depends on the length of your question and answers, so check the display and increase it if necessary, or you will end up with a vertical scrollbar.
  • Add a final </div> at the bottom.



7. Pay attention at the back! We're nearly there.

I will assume that the majority of readers of this article compose their 'Posts' using the 'Compose' or WYSIWYG editor. Unfortunately, this is where you have to dip your toes into the muddy waters of HTML. If you are using the 'Compose' method, stop wherever you wish to insert the Poll and switch to 'Edit Html'. You will be able to see where you stopped typing, so all you need to do is insert a couple of new lines, copy the text from your text editor (the stuff you've been hacking in the previous steps), and paste it into the editing window. It's as easy as that!



8. When you're satisfied with the 'Preview' you can hit 'SAVE' (you're saving it as a 'draft'), because you aren't finished - yet!

BTW, the 'Preview' almost always shows you a distorted view of your Post, or rather, it displays differently on your page than it does in the 'Preview'. You have been warned!


9. Finally! Go to Template | Page Elements, select 'Edit' for the Poll you created earlier, then select 'REMOVE PAGE ELEMENT' in the 'Create a poll' window that opens up. You're done with this one, and if you don't remove it, the one in your Post won't appear!


10. Time to take a look at how the Poll displays when it is posted:


Q. Test Question



Ahhh, satisfaction! The colours aren't exactly what I want, and if this was a 'real' Poll for my site I would tweak things a bit further, but I am sure you are able to do this for yourselves.

Now, sit back and wait for the feedback to your Poll ...

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TIP - Polls (apart) ...

From: David McMahon
To: Terry Fletcher
Subject: Polls in a Post ...

El Tel

Off the top of your head, can you remember the icon that produces a poll in New Blogger? Having done so many all those months ago, I'm scratching my head because I want to embed one in a post!!




Another hot potato!

Why? Because, although I know about the 'Poll' feature introduced by Blogger, I'd only ever tried it out in the side panel where it is automatically lodged if you elect to run a Poll on your page.

How does one add a Poll to a Post? "Piece of cake," was my first thought on the matter. I figured I'd add an <iframe> and insert the code for the Poll into the <iframe>, and that would be that! Yeah, sure! You can try that approach and see how far it gets you.

So, it was off to "Google-Blogger-Land" to see what solutions were on offer. I stumbled across one or two articles about Polls, hundreds commenting they couldn't even find the feature on their site and others, who were able to find it, asking for the feature to be rolled out to include the ability to insert a Poll in a Post. Of course, you've probably guessed by now, most of these discussions were based on NEW-Blogger Beta, at the time that Polls were added as a 'Nice-to-have' feature. Sometimes I despair.

The current state of affairs is that the Poll feature has been rolled out as a 'widget' that can be accessed via the 'Page Elements' of your customization menu. It is a simple "click and accept" feature and, as far as it goes, it works fairly well. There are a few limitations, but it appears that nothing is going to be done to enhance the feature further.

What about a "Poll in a Post"? Tough! This feature is not available, and there isn't any clue as to whether it ever will be. Does that mean it can't be done?

Absolutely NOT!

But it currently calls for a bit of HTML and Template fiddling, and most casual Bloggers will probably not be interested in implementing something that isn't a 'click-and-go' feature.

For those that think it is a 'cool' idea to occasionally add a Poll to a Post, I shall roll out a 'tute' with screencaps in my next offering.

Watch this space ...

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