It’s not a trivial task to set up a blog! At least it wasn’t for me. I’m sure there are plenty of nice tutorials on this out there, but unfortunately I couldn’t find them, so I thought I’d summarize what I did.
At the other end, I needed a blog hosting service. Blogger and TypePad are the big ones, and both of them support custom domain names. Blogger is free and TypePad is not. But Blogger requires web hosting, which doesn’t come for free if you want some decent quality of service, and no commercials. TypePad comes with better features, too, I think, so it got my final vote.
This is what we do when we develop software, too, right? Making the obvious "big" things fixed (the architecture), possibly doing some investments in that (domain registration fee!), and then we’re just supposed to fill in the rest, and if the architecture was a good one, there shouldn’t be any big problems. So, were these choices good enough?
First, let’s look at my requirements for setting up the blog.
- I want to be able to change the blog hosting service at any time.
- I want to start out small and cheap, but with the possibility of growing, in size, capacity and features.
- I want the blog to be a subdomain of drakengren.com, named blog.drakengren.com.
So, to satisfy all these, now we just need to configure the DNS at GoDaddy to direct my subdomain to the blog at TypePad, right? Not so simple. As far as I can tell, GoDaddy only supports redirecting requests to a subdomain to an URL, and at best, I could "cloak" the destination URL with my own subdomain. Then, who could be so kind to direct my subdomain to my TypePad blog?
Finally, I found the service Zone Edit, which provides free DNS hosting for low-traffic sites, with nice scale-up options for later (but not for free; hm, I forgot to check the pricing for those). With their service, I could map the CNAME record (don’t ask me what it means!) to point at my TypePad blog address. Some hours later, when the DNS data had propagated on the Internet, the mapping was complete! Just don’t forget to follow the instructions at the TypePad site for setting up a domain mapping.
So it turned out that the initial architecture was good enough, we just had to add another component. Perhaps I could have found another domain registrar which supports subdomain DNS mapping, but it’s not obvious that this would have been the better choice. We would have gotten rid of one possible point of failure, Zone Edit, but perhaps we would have lost the stability of a big, well-known domain registrar. And it is indeed possible to change this solution if GoDaddy will introduce better support for subdomains. So I’ve got a nice, evolvable architecture for my blog!
I made this process look pretty deep, didn’t I? 😉