|Last updated: 8/20/2002; 9:19:51 AM|
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Radio Userland Part 2: Starting to Grok
When Parking Brakes Fail...
Beginning to Grok
Given that I am learning a new application, the picture seemed appropriate. Getting started with any new product is a "NASA we have a problem" type of thing. Still, Radio is fascinating and I am beginning to get it. Here's some more on the process.
What's It Do?
At its core, Radio produces a regularly updated web page, a weblog. Think of a home page you update every single day. This I understood – its why I downloaded it.
After you download and install Radio, you go to your Programs menu (I'm on Windows) and run Radio. This _should_ bring up a window like that below:
Note that I said should. I am running two machines and on one it does and on one it doesn't. I've been known to do more than my share of multitasking and perhaps that why – corrupted browser issues.
Now, when it doesn't pop up, here's what to do. Click on the Radio Icon in the bottom right tool pane.
Now choose the Home Page option.
Disclaimer : Sorry about the slightly munged text in the picture above. Jasc's Paint Shop Pro 7 doesn't paste as well as Paint Shop Pro 5. That's one of the reasons that I didn't upgrade yet and probably won't.
Analyzing this Window
So, what do I do first? How do I get started. Lets take a look at the picture below. Please note that some of the red items are linked to text below.
In my first essay on Radio, I was confused about the term "File" menu. That was because Radio is, at its core, a browser based application. Don't worry about that now – in a conversation with Dave Winer, I learned that where I had gone was advanced user stuff. And, with understanding, it makes more sense. Anyway…
Wait! Halt! My Radio Doesn't Look Like Yours!
Probably the first thought out of your head was "My radio looks different". It looks something like this:
That would be correct. Yes, indeed. Since Radio is based on a "theme" architecture, you can change what the actual publishing tool, Radio itself, looks like. Its easy to do this, its fast and it just looks great. I switched to the "Transmitter" theme to take on the Yellow/Orange look and feel from the standard blue and white. Don't be thrown by this, the same features are presents in all the themes and they seem to be in the same place so I think that my examples will still hold.
So, the first lesson, is that your weblog can look however you want it to AND you can get professional designer quality for no extra cost. Don't want to wait and learn how? Click the "Themes" link on the bar of links across the top of the screen.
I'm a long time software guy. When I hear the term "menu", I automatically think of a drop down menu. The menu in Radio is actually a set of hyperlinks across the top. I'm going to come back to this menu, under "Revisiting the Menu", in a bit but lets first talk about "Your First Post".
Your First Post
So you want to post to your weblog, do you? Here's what to do:
- Type some text into the big white area. "My First Weblog Entry" for example.
- Click the Post to Weblog button.
- You're done.
How do I Know that it is Posted?
This is actually a very good question. It almost certainly did but you want to be sure. There are two ways that your information could have been posted:
- An automatic post to the radio.weblogs.com web site and stored as your user #
- By FTPing it to your own web server. If you knew how to set this up then you probably know how to find it.
So, how do you view your post? It turns out that Radio has very intelligently included a link to it right on the home page. Take a look at the right hand side of the screen as shown below.
When you click on this link, you be taken right to your weblog and then new content should just be there. Now, this is where I took a wrong turn during my first download of Radio.
Danger Will Robinson. Danger.
Radio is a browser based application. This means that the browser DOES NOT save your information. If you have text typed in the Editing box and you move away from it by clicking on that link OR any other link, that text just goes away. Given that everything that controls Radio is a hyperlink, its surprisingly easy to lose content.
This brings us to the obvious question – How do I save my weblog without publishing it?
Saving Without Publishing
The Post to Weblog button below the editing panel both saves your content and publishes it. This basically forces you to always go live with things that might not be ready. The solution is to set your Radio preferences to have both Post and Publish buttons. Follow this sequence:
Choose the Prefs link at the top of the screen in the row of command links, the "menu".
Under the Weblog grouping, click on the Three buttons or one option
UNCHECK the checkbox for one button
Click the Submit button
Click the Home link at the top left of the menu
You should now see something like this:
The Post button saves the material to your local database. The Publish button makes it public and the Post & Publish button does both.
Revisiting the Menu
This is probably long enough now but just to close with the promised section "Revisiting the Menu". The different menus are:
Home – Jumps you back to the main editing window
News – Radio has interesting features with respect to News. I don't understand it yet. More later.
Stories – Essentially longer essays but written in the Radio environment. For example, this probably should have been written as a story but it was faster for me to use FrontPage.
Folder – Browsing the radio server layout so you can see how the data is stored
Events – Tracing what Radio does behind the scenes
Themes – Change the look and feel of your weblog with two clicks!
Tools – Utilities within the Radio environment
Prefs – Configuring Radio and how to make it function. For example, setting Radio to FTP to your own web server.
Help – Documentation
Radio is a _very_ sophisticated product under the hood. Trust me on this. It is just powerful. Still, if all you want to do is write a simple web log then you really only need to worry about the Main screen (which we already talked about) and the Themes section since making your weblog pretty is cool. Don't get confused by all that's there. Most of what you need is actually pretty easy.
Russ Lipton has actually written more than I have about Radio. You should really read it. I'm doing this more to teach myself Radio than anything else.
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