06 November 2007

[bloggage] Blog Posting Software

1092. This entry is being penned as a service to NaBloPoMo colleagues–I imagine that we all have our different workflows when it comes to blog posting, and no matter how famous or obscure your blog is, one of the reasons you like blogging is that the process itself is fascinating

Beyond the point of getting your own words up in the virtual public sphere to be read (or ignored, as the case may be) by millions, it is highly engaging. Sort of like crafts, but you're working with pixels, bits, and diaphanous digital objects of dubious existence to cobble together a public scrapbook.

Here, we use one of three modes to post our content. They are, in order of like-itude:

  1. Adobe Contribute CS3.
  2. Posting to Blogger through the Web-interface
  3. Bleezer

This post is being created inside Bleezer, for instance. Each method has its pros and its cons. First, the high points:

  • Adobe Contribute CS3 is the best by far at near-WYSIWYG publishing with the feeling of using a true word-processor. Contribute examines your connection and assembles a draft template for you, and this is called up when you connect and want to create a new entry. Thus, entries exist on your local machine before they get posted, where you can install links, add pictures, and style text just as though you were banging it out in Word, which is highly nifty, and why I continue to use it despite some signal drawbacks; the act of creating the written word becomes more that of creating and less that of "how do I achieve this effect?". Also, Contribute CS3 ensures that I have consistent leading throughout all lines of my posting. Contribute started out as a website tool for non-web-designers, and blogging is a late but very welcome development.
  • Bleezer is a program that run on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. It has a pleasant interface, very usable. Requres Java, but also allows you to compose, craft links, and style posts offline before uploading (or not uplading at all). It is free software and well-supported by its creator, Larry Borsato; when I originally downloaded Bleezer to try it out, the first version didn't run for some reason I've forgotten. A day (that's "A day", as in the number one) after contacting him by email he emailed me an updated version which ran acceptably. You can't beat customer service like that. And did I mention that it's free? And it has a word-processor-esque interface. And it will automatically ping for you. And it's free.
  • Posting Via Web-Interface is the method I bet most everyone uses. It has the extreme advantage of zero-installation–if you have a compatible browser, you have your posting software. The interface for Blogger, which the Times depends on, takes care of it all–styling, picture uploading and sizing, blog administration, everything. The "New" Blogger is provideing more and more of what the other kids are giving, now with email notification of comment follow ups, and the widgets allow you to put more fun things up in your Blogspot blog than ever before without having to know one lick of HTML
We have to take the good with the bad, of course, and the downsides of each include:
  • Contribute CS3: Slow to run–I experience wait times of 20-30 seconds to several minutes when adding such things as links to highlighted text and the first character of the Technorati tags int the tags box. Contribute also tends to FallDownGoBoom a bit more often than I'd like, and, as far as I'm aware, if you use Feedburner and redirect your feed there, Contribute won't let you edit any posts–it thinks you are trying to connect to a site you've not made a connection to (although that gives me an idea of something to try; I'll conduct an experiment and report back).
  • Bleezer, being Java and not OS native, exhibits strange behavior sometimes. Sometimes it will freeze, and sometimes changes will not be reflected in the typing window (there is an HTML pane that allows you to precisely position the cursor in case the compose window starts playing mind games with you, which it's done more than once in the course of this very posting).
  • Posting Via Web-Interface's problems hinge on the concept of compatibility. For my surfing experience I far and away prefer Safari; it's text-rendering and CSS support is just plain better than Firefox (which is my number 2 surfing choice). But Blogger's editing interface just refuses to play nice with Safari: pasting text into the Compose window fails really well (showing up in a blue box that erupts from the bottom of the frame) and Blogger will not let Safari cut and paste (and resize) pictures about. And forget about paragraph style control. Use one UL or blockquote, and all of a sudden all of your type is set solid. Bleachh.
Notably absent from this assemblage is WordPress, which I approve of (it's got mad features yo) but I'm pretty locked in to this URL (I've worked hard to carve a virtual niche and the thought of rebuilding it just causes me amazing despair). Blogger caught my attention because it was (and still is) free and setting up a new blog takes, as many of you know, just a couple of minutes, and some of the bloggers I admire most and who inspired me to start use it as a platform (and still do), and it's becoming easier and easier to customize–and with the addition of Labels, giving readers even a better way to search and the blogger to organize postings.

The one drawback the whole scheme has is that Blogger does not allow, at this time, uploading of graphics from a blogging client program. This means that, unless I do all my blogging via web interface in Firefox, I have to resort to a web browser apres-post to insert the pics (and that means firing up the Fox alongside Contribute and Safari–I usually have all three running at one point whilst blogging).

If there's any one thing I wish Blogger would fix, that would be it. It would be cool to be able to upload pictures from Contribute or Bleezer, but, regrettably, that's not going to happen right now. I know not of Blogger R&D, but I'm hoping they're working on that one.

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