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Keeping your blog content fresh

Photo: "Fresh Produce" by Lori L. Stalteri, licensed under CC BY 2.0.


For the last 2½ years or so, I’ve written a fair bit about SAP Cloud Platform Integration. Over that period of time, the product has seen a number of changes (it is updated monthly, after all). That’s not a bad thing! Quite the opposite, in fact; continuous updates are one of the strengths of cloud software. It does present one problem, though: Something I wrote about CPI two years ago may not be accurate today — or even correct.

I’d really like my content to remain relevant and useful to readers, and I definitely don’t want to steer anybody wrong. With those two goals in mind, I’ve been going through all my technical blog posts lately, making sure that they are as up to date as can be.

Some of the old posts, like this one, could not be salvaged. It discusses an approach that is simply no longer relevant. In cases like that, I’ve added a note at the top of the post, explaining the current approach:

Other posts discuss technical features, that can and will change over time (like, for instance, the supported XSLT version). Those I went ahead and updated to reflect the current version of CPI. I also verified that sample code still runs, and that screenshots do not show older UI versions.

Now that all my content is up to date, I’d like to keep it that way. To organise the effort a bit, I’ve set up a spreadsheet of posts, that need a somewhat regular checkup. When I have a bit of time on my hands, I can check it to see if any posts are nearing their sell-by date, so to speak, and revisit them as needed. Granted, this approach probably doesn’t scale to a back catalogue of hundreds of posts :-)

By the way, if you are going through your old posts anyway, you might want to make sure that:

  • They have a category
  • Their tags are still correct
  • They don’t reference outdated product names

I also took the opportunity to clean up all occurrences of “this blog”, replacing them with “this blog post” (hi, DJ Adams!).

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5 Comments

  • Jul 30, 2019 at 02:48 PM

    Good work, Morten! ;-)

  • Jul 30, 2019 at 02:55 PM

    Hi Morten,

    While I understand what you're trying to achieve by updating your blogposts, there are some things to keep in mind when you do this sort of "clean up," some potential downsides.

    People searching for information about older versions of software may actually need the old language/names in there to even find your posts, which may still be helpful to them as is, without updates. This won't always apply, but in cases where it does, you may be sacrificing one audience for another.

    I think of my older blogposts as information meant for that specific moment in time. (And this is one reason I don't like blogs out there in the interwebs that do not include publication dates.) As you stated about the post to which you added a note at the top, you left it there for historical value. That was a good way to handle that one, in my opinion.

    Something you could consider doing instead of updating an old post would be to write a new one based on the newer information and the newer version of the software, and interlinking them. That way you leave the older post available for those searching for information on legacy things, while making your insight and knowledge available also for those who have an updated version.

    • Jul 30, 2019 at 03:33 PM

      Ah, undated material on the interwebs... one of my pet peeves, too!

      It's a conundrum, keeping old blog posts up-to-date, vs writing about new things, especially when one barely has any time to write about new things. I like your approach, though, Audrey, about linking new and old, or, as Morten does here, putting disclaimers at the top of old posts indicating what might not be relevant for current versions of the software.

    • Jul 30, 2019 at 05:37 PM

      Hi Audrey

      With SAP Cloud Platform Integration - and indeed most *-as-a-Service products - there are no older versions. There are version numbers, sure, but they are inconsequential, since the only accessible version is the current one.

      Things are very different in the on-premise world, of course, where old software versions can remain in use for a very, very long time. Not so in the cloud.

      Regards,

      Morten

  • Jul 30, 2019 at 04:38 PM

    I agree with Audrey, adding a note and a new blog is a good way to handle this. Not sure if it applies to the Cloud environment (as you said, it's changing frequently by nature) but as someone working in an older system I frequently look for older blogs because the solution in the newer blogs might not be available in our system.

    As a reader, I'm always mindful of the posting date and don't expect the authors to go back and update their blogs. Just like I wouldn't go back to update the diary I wrote when I was 12 years old. :)

    It's nice of you to go through this effort though.

    P.S. I honestly do not understand why some people are so ticked about "blog" vs "blog post". It's pretty clear from the context that by "in this blog, I'll explain" the author means the specific post. Also if this was my personal web site then yes, "blog" could mean the whole website and "blog post" is a single post. But in the SCN context - what is even "the blog" then? It's not like I have a dedicated "Jelena's Blog", it all goes into the same pile. Potato-potahto...

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