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Basically, in this three-part article by Alfonso Romero, author of Apache Roller 4.0 – Beginner's Guide, we shall:
- Learn to manage group blogs
- Use aggregators and blog search engines such as Technorati to expand your Roller blog's audience
- Configure Google webmaster tools for your Roller weblog
- Use podcasts in your weblog entries to attract visitors that use podcatcher software such as iTunes
- Use Google docs as a weblog client to publish entries in your Roller weblog
- Use Planet Roller to aggregate external blogs along with your Roller blogs
So let's get on with it.
Managing group blogs
Suddenly, your boss bursts into your office and shouts: "Well, let's give Roller a try for our company's blog!" And now, you have to enable group blogs in your Roller installation.
Time for action – creating another user
The first thing you need to do in order to enable group blogging is create another user, as shown in the following exercise:
- Open your web browser and type your Roller's dynamic hostname in the Address bar (for example, mine is http://alromero.no-ip.org). Now click on the Login link on your weblog's main page:
- The Welcome to Roller page will appear. Instead of logging in, click on the Register link in order to create a new user:
- The New User Registration screen will show up next. Fill in the fields for your new user, as shown in the following screenshot:
- Click on Register User when finished. If all goes well, you'll be taken back to the Welcome to Roller screen, and the following success message will appear:
- Select the Click here link to continue. Type your new Username and Password, and click on the Login button. The Main Menu page will appear:
- Click on the Create new weblog link, under the Actions panel. Roller will take you to the Create Weblog page. Fill in the required fields to create your new weblog. Use the following data for the Name, Description, and Handle fields:
- The Email Address field will already contain the e-mail address you used when creating your new user. Leave the default values for Locale, Timezone, and Theme, and click on the Create Weblog button to continue. The following page will appear indicating that your weblog was successfully created:
- Now click on the New Entry link in order to create the following new entry in your weblog:
- Scroll down the page and click on the Post to Weblog button to post your entry.
What just happened?
Well, now there's another user in your Roller server, how about that? Your boss is going to be proud of you and very happy, because your company will have a multiuser blog!
The next step is to invite other people to create user accounts and weblogs in the Roller blog server. If you're using Roller in your office, just start spreading the word to your colleagues. Or if you're experimenting with Roller in your home, you can invite some friends to blog with you, create a family group blog, and so on.
Have a go hero – inviting members to write in your weblog
Now that you've learned how other people can register and get a user account in Roller, it would be a good idea to start exploring the Preferences: Members page, where you can invite other Roller users to collaborate in your weblog by posting entries. Roller has three user levels:
- Administrator: Can create/edit weblog entries and publish them in your weblog. An administrator can also change the Roller theme and templates, and manage weblog users.
- Author: Can create/edit weblog entries and upload files, but cannot change themes or templates, and cannot manage users.
- Limited: Can create/edit entries and save them as drafts, but cannot publish them.
Go on and create several test user accounts, and try out the three Roller user levels by inviting the test users to collaborate in your weblog. To invite a user, use the Invite new member link under the Actions panel in the Preferences: Members page.
Enabling a front page blog
Up until now, you've been using your main weblog as the front page for your Roller blog server. Now that you've enabled group blogging, each user can promote his/her weblog(s) individually, or you can create a community front page to show recent posts from all of your user's weblogs. The next exercise will show you how to create and use a front page blog to show posts from all the other weblogs in your Roller blog server.
Time for action – enabling a front page blog
In this exercise, we're going to create a new weblog to serve as the front page of your entire Roller weblog server. The front page blog will show a list of recent entries from all your other weblogs, and from all the other users' weblogs in your Roller blog server.
- Log into Roller (in case you're not already logged in) with your administrator account, go to the Main Menu page, and then click on the Create new weblog link under the Actions panel:
- Type My Roller Community in the Name field, The best Roller blog community in the Description field, and frontpage in the Handle field:
- Scroll down the page until you locate the Theme field, select the Frontpage theme, and click on the Create Weblog button:
- The following page will appear, indicating that your frontpage weblog was created successfully:
- Now click on the Server administration link located in the Actions panel. The Roller Configuration page will show up. Scroll down until you locate the Handle of weblog to serve as frontpage blog field, and replace its contents with frontpage. Then click on the Enable aggregated site-wide frontpage option to enable it:
- Scroll down the page until you locate the Save button and click on it to save your changes. Now click on the Front Page link in Roller's menu bar:
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- Roller's aggregated front page will appear next, showing a list of recent posts from all the weblogs under the Recent Entries tab:
- Click on the Weblog Directory tab to see a list of all the weblogs in your Roller server:
- Click on the Main Menu link to return to the Main Menu page, and then click on the Server Admin link to go to the Roller Configuration page. Change the content of the first three fields in the Site Settings section, as shown in the following screenshot:
- Scroll down the page until you locate the Save button and click on it to save your changes, then click on the Front Page link in Roller's menu bar to see Roller's aggregated front page again.
- Now type virtualbox in the Search for blogs field and click on the Search button:
- Roller will search in all your weblog's posts for the virtualbox term. The Search results page will show the entries found:
What just happened?
Cool! Now you have a weblog community just like blogs.sun.com! And all thanks to Roller's Frontpage theme! If you feel adventurous, you can use the knowledge to edit your frontpage template. You can add flash animations, images, change the Roller logo to match your company's logo, and do anything your imagination comes up with! Now let's see how to promote your Roller weblog on the blogosphere.
Aggregators and weblog pings
In this section, we're going to talk about promoting your weblog in Technorati—one of the most popular aggregators/blog search engines available today. There are several other blog search engines and aggregators besides Technorati that you can register with in order to promote your blog such as Digg, StumbleUpon, and Delicious, among others. The process for registering and pinging is basically the same for all aggregators.
Registering with an aggregator
Technorati is a very popular aggregator, and you can use its services to promote your Roller weblog, but first you need to register an account. I'll show you how to do that in the next exercise.
Time for action – registering with Technorati
Now I'll show you how to create an account in Technorati and claim your Roller blog; this way, every time you post a new entry in your weblog, Roller will ping Technorati and your new post will show up in this aggregator's list of recent posts.
In the blogging arena, a ping is a mechanism used by your weblog to notify an aggregator such as Technorati that its contents have changed. Everytime you post a new entry in your weblog, Roller pings all the aggregators you designate so that they always have your blog's most recent content to show to their viewers.
- Open your web browser and type http://www.technorati.com in the Address bar. Locate the Join link at the upper-right part of the page, and click on it:
- Fill in the required fields, type the two reCAPTCHA required words, select the two checkboxes, and click on Join to continue:
- The Verify email address page will appear next. Check your e-mail, type the confirmation code, and click on Verify to continue:
- The My Account/Claim a new blog page will appear. Now you need to type your weblog's URL to claim your blog. Open a new tab in your web browser, log into your Roller weblog with your administrator account, and go to the Main Menu page:
- Right-click on the link of the weblog that you want to claim on Technorati, and select the Copy Link Location option from the pop-up menu:
- Now go to the Technorati: Claim a New Blog tab, paste your weblog's link in the URL field, and click on Begin Claim to continue:
- Technorati will show you a code that you need to paste in your blog to complete your claim. Copy that code, go to the Front Page: Main Menu tab, and click on the New Entry link in the weblog that you want to claim in order to post a new entry.
- Type Test entry in the Title field, and paste the code from Technorati in the Content field.
- Now scroll down the page until you locate the Post to Weblog button and click on it. Go back to the Technorati tab in your web browser and click on the Complete Claim button to finish the blog claiming process:
- Technorati will now start checking your blog to see if the confirmation code shows up and you are the legitimate owner:
- Once Technorati confirms your blog, it will appear in the Claimed Blogs tab:
- Don't close your web browser because we'll use it in the next exercise.
What just happened?
Technorati is one of the most popular blog search engines, so you definitely need to be included in there! Once you've registered and claimed your blog, Technorati will be ready to receive your pings each time you post a new entry or update your weblog content.
If you have read this article you may be interested to view :
- Advanced Blog Management with Apache Roller 4.0: Part 2
- Advanced Blog Management with Apache Roller 4.0: Part 3
- Creating a Roller theme from scratch using Apache Roller 4.0
- Working with Templates in Apache Roller 4.0
- Velocity Model and Data Objects in Apache Roller
- Spicing Up Your Blog: Uploading Files and Images to your Weblog using Apache Roller
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About the Author :
Alfonso Romero is a freelance computer consultant and translator from Mexico. He's been working with Linux and open source software since 1999. He started operating his first web server (Apache) from a PC at home, offering free hosting services to experiment with Postfix, Squirrel Mail, MySQL, Apache, Tomcat, and Virtual Hosting. Since then, he's been working as a computer consultant for several clients in Mexico – writing Java, C++, and Web applications. Since 2000, he has worked for Pearson Education in Mexico as a computer books freelance translator and consultant. His latest book translations are the Spanish versions of Java How to Program, Seventh Edition, from Deitel & Deitel, and C++ How to Program, Sixth Edition, also from Deitel & Deitel. Al enjoys writing tutorials and teaching about Java, C++, PHP, the Apache Web server, Tomcat, MySQL, Web applications like Apache Roller, and all of the wonderful open source applications used today, and when he's not experimenting with new trends in Open Source applications, he enjoys playing his electric guitar.