Was just looking for another blogging tool to help me blog from my XP machine (as opposed to my former iBook). Yes, again. Turns out Microsoft just started a beta test for their own blog client, “Windows Live Writer”
Writer Zone: Introducing Windows Live Writer
(It was listed on WordPress.org along other blogging tools.)
That tool is really meant for non-coders. Most, if not all, blog editors are meant to be somewhat WYSIWYG. Microsoft’s WLW follows that principle quite directly and emphasizes ease of editing, not advanced features. As such, it’s somewhat similar to Apple’s iWeb but, as CNET writers and readers keep pointing out, with a wider range of publishing options.
Of course, there’s a range of blogging tools out there. Several of them are free or quite inexpensive. Most of them do support several APIs. In fact, WordPress is supported by a good proportion of blogging tools. Didn’t realize it until today but the open-source LiveJournal editor Semagic does support WordPress if you change server settings (doh!). Other standalone blog editors (free of charge) like Qumana, JBlogEditor, Blog Writer, and Post2Blog Express all seem rather decent. Browser-based solutions like Flock and Performancing work for some people but kind of defeat the purpose of a blogging. And Mozilla-based browsers don’t support “spell as you type” underlining, unlike Safari.
So far, ecto has been my favourite. It’s inexpensive, cross-platform, seems stable, easy to use. As a blog client, ecto not only lets you publish new blog posts but really helps maintaining multiple blogs. Fortunately, ecto does have multilingual “spell as you type” underlining. The main thing missing for me is on-the-fly WordPress categories. It seems that WordPress.com’s web-based editor is the only tool which allows for such a feature. But ecto is scriptable and accepts Technorati tags (which WordPress.com’s categories doubles). A del.icio.us-like tagging function would work well too. Another feature it could have is an integration with your browsers’ histories so you can easily enter links instead of copy/pasting them. Maybe in ecto 3!
Just started trying out Opera 9 (it was announced on the Buzz Out Loud podcast yesterday). It does have several nifty features (as Tom on BOL said) but it does have its quirks.
For instance, thee WYSIWYG mode here on WordPress doesn’t seem to work. Although items in Mac OS X’s Services menu aren’t greyed out, they don’t seem to work.
Most of the nifty features are approximate equivalent to Firefox extensions. For instance, the “Notes” feature is rather nifty, especially when you want to keep text, but it’s not nearly as useful as Gomita’s Scrapbook extension for Firefox and Flock. The session manager seems to work in a similar way to the “Session Manager” Firefox Extension, especially when combined with the trashcan feature, but it seems a bit less powerful.
Opera 9 seems a bit slow overall, especially with more dynamic (e.g. AJAX) features on some pages (including categories here on WordPress).
Look and feel is ok and Opera might be more customizable than other browsers. Still, that’s not a very important thing for me.
Opera does have a “community” which reproduces or emulates several things that have been popular elsewhere on the Web (for instance, Digg-like community rating). In that sense, it’s an integrated version of several community features. But the browser doesn’t really make the community aspects very prominent.
Opera’s website has a rather elaborate presentation/animation based on some characters representing user types. That presentation looks pretty much like ads in early issues of the Launch magazine (on CD-ROM). It seems like an obvious attempt at generating hype but it doesn’t really carry through as interacting with the animation only leads to very simple information (the accountant/blogger likes widgets…).
It might still work. Opera 9 has a lot of things that people might like and it’s quite possible that some will jump right in. But, at this point, our browsing habits are probably entrenched enough that it’s hard to switch to a new browser and not feel like something is missing in the new one. Safari, Firefox, Flock, Opera, IE, lynx, iCab, Netscape… Each of them has interesting features and you often wish one combines them all. It’s all about workflow. Once you start getting efficient in one browser, there’s a lot of inertia preventing you from switching. In my case, switching from Safari to Firefox has been something of a bumpy ride. Still wish Firefox had some of the features of Safari (especially those provided by OSX’s Services like “check spelling as you type” and shortcut to Nisus Thesaurus). Switching from Firefox to Flock has been quite easy, especially now that some important extensions (like Scrapbook) are readily available in Flock versions (concurrent with the beta release). Still wish Flock had some more Safari-ness, but Flock does have some neat features for bloggers. In fact, at this point, for me, the browser and the blogging tool should be as integrated as possible. My choice still goes for ecto but a blogging browser could eventually be a better choice.
Browser choice is quite similar to the whole OSX vs. XP thing. Yes, it’s possible to switch from one to the other. But like translating poetry with automated tool, it’s kind of missing the point.