Friday, October 19, 2012

A New Domain for my Blog

Earlier this evening, I took care of something that I have been wanting to do for quite some time:  redirect a sub-domain on my web site to my blog.  I do not think there was any specific reason for it except to begin to "unify" some of my content (a lot of which is out of date, I might add).  As it turns out, the set-up was relatively straight forward and my blog remained where it has always been (on blogger).  There were four rather simple steps I took to get this working:

1.  Create a sub-domain

My first step was to create a sub-domain on my web site that can redirect to my blog on Blogger.  Since I was not sure if I would want to add other blogs outside of the software domain in the future, I chose the somewhat cryptic "swblog" as my sub-domain.  The URL for my blog, therefore, became http://swblog.jimkile.com instead of http://jimkile.blogspot.com with that one decision.

Note:  A step like this is very much hosting service dependent.  My web site is hosted by Modwest (and has been since 2003), so I merely used ssh to access my account and create the appropriate directory.

2.  Verify my new sub-domain with Google's Webmaster Tools

I confess that I did not do this step in the order in which I have it here, but I found out that it was a necessary step to complete the process.  All I had to do was add the new blog URL, place a small HTML file in its root directory, and let the tool validate the address.  Not doing this caused an error when I updated the blog address in Blogger, so take my advice and do it first.

3.  Forward my sub-domain to Blogger

Once I had my new sub-domain, I had to tell the Internet's domain naming system (DNS) that one part of my web site would be hosted elsewhere (in this case, Blogger).  That required me to add two CNAME records to my web sites's DNS settings, but finding out what to add meant I had to start the process on the Blogger side first.  I did that by going into the basic settings for my blog and beginning the process of setting the new blog address using the advanced version of that option.  I added my new blogger URL (A) and then selected the settings instructions link (B) so that it would give me the information I would need to create the CNAME records.

Blogger's Advanced Blog Address Settings

Once I had the CNAME information, I added the two records to my web site's configuration.

Modwest's DNS Configuration Settings (Fragment)

3.  Save the Blog Address in Blogger

After I made my changes to my DNS settings, I merely saved the Blog Address I had started to get the CNAME information.  In theory, that should have been it except for the next step, which was the hardest ...

4.  Wait

I added this step because at first things did not quite work.  After about 20 minutes, though, the redirect seemed to be consistently working.  In fact, it should take about 24 hours before the name changes propagate throughout the Internet's DNS system, so 20 minutes was pretty good.

Other Changes at the Same Time?

Perhaps one thing that I changed that I probably should not have was the layout of my Blog.  In retrospect, had I known the results I probably would have left well enough alone for the time being.  While the blog is now using one of Google's new "dynamic" templates, the color scheme is currently rather bland.  When I had customized the background and colors, I found that they did not appear consistently across browsers and platforms.  For example, the background picture I selected was visible in Google's Chrome, but not Safari or Firefox (all of these on Mac OS X).  I will have to play with the settings and perhaps send some feedback to Google after some research to find out how to make their new templates play well with all browsers.
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