Friday, September 23, 2005

Introduction: Sams Teach Yourself Blogging in a Snap

The text below was to be the Introduction element to the book, but in the "In a Snap" series there is no Introduction page. So, here is the introduction you would have read. I think I'll just keep it here as a sticky post!


Welcome to Sams Teach Yourself Blogging in a Snap! This book is a compendium of short lessons covering a wide range of topics related to blogging with Google's blogging platform—Blogger. Whether you're a beginner who has never blogged before, or an experienced blogger looking for tips on extending the presentation and features found in your blog, the modular, task-based format of this book allows you to jump in anywhere and learn something new.

Over the course of this book, you'll learn how to create and maintain a blog using Blogger, including how to use HTML and CSS to personalize your posts and blog template. You'll also learn how to extend your blog with third-party tools, and how to blog on the go using mobile blogging and audio blogging tools. Also included is information on content syndication, blog-specific search engines, and social bookmarking—while not specific to Blogger users, this information will help you to participate fully in the blogging experience.

The ultimate purpose of the book is to provide you, the reader, with easily digestible lessons for all of the tools and tasks that make up the art of blogging with Blogger, so you can spend your time blogging up a storm without getting bogged down learning a new tool.

Who Should Read This Book?

This book is geared toward a reader new to blogging, or one who has been blogging for some time but hasn't taken advantage of all the bells and whistles available to them. The only requirement is that you understand how to use a Web browser and navigate the World Wide Web. Everything else you need to know to start blogging with Blogger is discussed and described in both text and images.

At the beginning of each topic, pre-requisites are listed for completing the tasks that follow. For instance, you won't be able to do anything in Topic 6, "Configuring Basic Blogger Settings," unless you have already registered with Blogger and setup your first blog. Similarly, each topic will have references to other, related topics where appropriate. For instance, several topics regarding the placement of third-party items in your Blogger template refer to topics in Chapter 5, "Working with Blogger Templates."

Additionally, no HTML or CSS knowledge is assumed, and you can maintain a blog for years by relying on the Blogger post editor to handle all your formatting for you. But for those who want to learn the specifics and move past the basic formatting available to you, topics and appendices on these subjects are included but not required.

How This Book Is Organized

This book is divided into four parts, corresponding to particular topic groups. The chapters and topics within each part need not be read one right after another, but if you are new to blogging you should definitely read Part I first and its chapters in order. Given the modular nature of the content, you can then skip around to whatever topics interest you—just be sure you have completed pre-requisites where applicable.
  • Part I, "Getting Started with Blogging," provides you with an overview of the concept of blogging and how to be a good citizen in the blogosphere. Following this introduction you learn how to setup and configure a blog using Blogger, and how to create and maintain your blog entries.

  • Part II, "Fun With Blog Layouts," contains topics about using HTML within your blog posts, inserting images into your blog posts using one or more online image management services, and how to work with the Blogger template editor and the underlying blog template that controls the overall display of your blog.

  • Part III, "Extending Your Blog," contains a wide range of topics geared toward making your blog a lively place to visit—these topics include how to implement commenting and trackback systems, how to moblog and audioblog, how to post to Blogger from outside the management interface, using RSS and much more.

  • Two appendices are included at the end of the book, one for HTML and one for CSS. These appendices are short reference guides for using HTML and CSS, which you may want to do within your posts as well as your overall Blogger template.

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