Arie (arie) wrote in lj_userdoc,

Proposed Free User Override FAQ

I have discussed with several customization privs, including macheide the need for an override FAQ that covers the very basics of the override system, below you will find my proposed FAQ for this topic.

The need for something that would be a suitable accompaniment for requests that deal with complex overrides or overrides not covered by a more specific FAQ is fairly well established.

This also goes with a general trend toward education of the user rather than simply providing cut and paste overrides.

An educated user benefits both the support system and the user, as the better the user understands the system the more informed their questions will be. It would also cut down on repeated requests for overrides with each simple change the user wishes to make and provides a centralized location for the user to gain further information on overrides.

I understand that S2 is "just around the corner" but that does not change the fact that something like this is very badly needed in support. Currently the only even remotely reasonable FAQ reference to include with override requests that are not covered by an specific FAQ is the "How do I modify the look of my journal FAQ?" which is not adequate or even relevant to override requests.

Until S2 is actually implemented the user still needs a reference to turn to when dealing with overrides. Such a reference would help free users, volunteers, and anybody interested in working with the current customization system. This FAQ could also very quickly and very easily be edited to support S2 once it is available.

My goals in creating an override FAQ are:

  1. To provide some very basic information about how overrides work.
  2. To give support volunteers an FAQ to reference when offering users override assistance that specifically educates the user on the form and functionality of overrides.

    Examples where this FAQ would be useful for that purpose:

  3. To give the user a place to turn when they receive overrides from other locations such as HowTo and specific FAQs
  4. To address only the most basic elements of the override structure.

The goal of the FAQ is for the user to come away from it with the following skills:

  1. The ability to correctly format an override with opening and closing tags.
  2. The ability to modify an existing override, such as the background override, to only apply to one view.
  3. The ability to determine if the system style they are using supports the *_HEAD override.
  4. The ability to find specific overrides to use in their journal.
  5. The ability to determine if a paid account and custom style would be better suited to their needs.
  6. The knowledge that they may combine several elements into a single override.
  7. The knowledge that due to the potential complexity and diversity of overrides that official support for specific override codes is limited.

Free user override FAQ - What are overrides? How do they work?

Overrides are sections of code that can be used to modify certain parts of your journal. They are inserted into the Styles Override box near the bottom of the Modify Journal page (

They are used to set exceptions to the system styles and as such involve limitations and complications. If you are interested in dramatically changing the appearance of your journal style you can much more easily and thoroughly accomplish such changes through direct use of the style system ( via a paid account (

The variables that you can use overrides for are the *_HEAD, *_TALK_READLINK, *_TALK_LINKS, *_OPT_ITEMS, *_DATE_FORMAT, and *_WEBSITE.

When you create an override you also define what view the override applies to by using LASTN (for the most recent entries), FRIENDS, DAY, CALENDAR or GLOBAL (for all four page views) in the variable. Only the *_HEAD variable can make use of the GLOBAL function.

Each of the variables available for overrides corresponds to a particular part of your journal.

The *_HEAD variable is used to add to the <head> section of your journal and can be used with the LASTN, FRIENDS, DAY, CALENDAR and GLOBAL functions. Examples of elements of your journal that are part of the <head> section are backgrounds, font face and size, changing the browser title, and the default text alignment.

Not all system styles support the full functionality of the *_HEAD override. The *_HEAD override can be used fully with the Clean and Simple, Disjointed, Generator, Magazine, Refried Paper, and Tabular Indent system styles.

The system styles that have limited use of the *_HEAD variable will not allow you to override certain elements as noted below.

Default: You cannot override the browser title or default text alignment.
Punquin Elegant with Sidebar: You cannot override the browser title.
Webley Boxes on White: You cannot override the browser title.
The *_HEAD variable cannot be used for any overrides in the Notepad system style.

The *_TALK_READLINK variable is used to change the wording of the link to leave a comment and can be used with the LASTN, FRIENDS, and DAY views.

The *_TALK_LINKS variable is used to change the wording of the link to read your comments. It also controls the format and appearance of comments links. It can only be used with the LASTN, FRIENDS, and DAY views.

The *_TALK_READLINK and *_TALK_LINKS variables will only function if you have chosen to have message boards enabled on your journal. (

The *_OPT_ITEMS variable is used to indicate how many entries you would like to appear in a view. It can be used with the LASTN and FRIENDS views and the number of entries cannot exceed 50.

The *_DATE_FORMAT variable is used to define the way the date and time is formatted in entries. It can only be used with the LASTN, FRIENDS, and DAY views.

The *_WEBSITE variable is used to define the link to your personal website. It can be used with the LASTN, FRIENDS, DAY and CALENDAR views. A *_WEBSITE override will only function properly if a website is defined on the Personal Information page (

An override contains three sections; an opening tag, a section of code that defines the override, and a closing tag. For example a *_HEAD override that affects all four page views would use the GLOBAL function and look like this:

The code that defines the override would be inserted here.
It is important to include the <= in both the opening and closing tags.

If your override will fit on one line then you do not need to use a closing tag. For example an * _OPT_ITEMS override that limits your most recent entries view to 10 entries instead of the standard 20, would look like this:

You may only use an exact variable once in the override box once. However, you may combine several elements into a single override by inserting and merging all sections of code you would like to use between the proper variable tags.

There is more information available on overrides, as well as tutorials for using overrides, in the following locations:

For basic tutorials:

To learn how to change your font:

To learn how to insert a background image:

To learn how to set the number of entries that appear in a view:

To learn how to change the wording of your comments links:

There are a number of ways to use the override system. The above links describe only some of these ways. Due to the potential diversity and complexity of all available overrides it would be impossible to officially support them all.


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