08 January 2008

[bloggage] The State of Blog Software

1236. As long as one of our main endeavors is going to be blogging, we'll continue to explore the ways there are to do it that exist beyond the browser interface. We love finding a better way to do it, and for us that better way may or may not include saving posts off line, but will definitely be something that allows us a whole lot of control as we type, for instance, pressing CMD-I changes us to italics, just like when we use our word processor.

It will also make the text look pretty after we post it – it will maintain contstant leading and space-after.

We've tried a lot over the past year or so, and we've blown through a bit. There have been obstacles; some of these will remain, but at this time, if our experience counts for anything, we can be happy about two.

First is our long time friend, Adobe Contribute CS3. It has the one thing that other blogging clients don't, and that is the WYSIWYGish interface. Each blog posting is composed in a window that simulates the look of the blog itself very closely. There are some things the editor does not reproduce faithfully, which is things like javascript, and once a template is developed it doesn't automatically pick up all changes – but the template can be updated.

The other one is our newer friend Qumana. Qumana is a free client (as in costless) and works on cross platform. It doesn't do WYSIWYG, naturally, but it has a powerful clean interface that's fun and easy to use. It runs fast and sprightly, and works well with Blogger, which is what I need. It also automatically pings services, which is good. The current version of Qumana, release 3, has some show-stopper problems with posting to Blogger, but I'm using a beta version (3.2.0b1) which posts without problems. There are some finishing touches that need to be added – the 3.2 beta doesn't allow access to Blogger categories yet – but if they keep improving this, it'll be a find addition to the toolkit. Qumana also allows you to integrate ads into your content – the Q Ads system provides for this. I don't advertise so I haven't investigated that too thoroughly.

There are some drawbacks to using these tools.

With Contribute, there are two very large irritations. First, Contribute CS3 runs sl-o-o-w for some things, such as inserting links. Sometimes, Contribute CS3 will hang for no apparent reason. The biggest fault I was able to find, however, had to do with editing Blogger posts, and if you redirect your RSS to Feedburner, as I do, you'll need to be completely aware of this; you will not be able to edit any of your Blogger posts. The access point is the Atom feed, and if there's a way to make Contribute repect the redirected RSS feed, I can't find it.

Qumana, on the other hand, edits blog posts regardless of Feedburner feed redirection.

Right now, I'm happily using Qumana. Being able to re-edit posts at will turns out to be very important to me, and I like having the true measure of my feed subscribers accessable to me. If you want to have this tool, and you also want to re-edit posts and you're on Blogspot, you'll want to go with Qumana (unless you can write the perfect post every time).

Now in fairness it must be said that there are limitations the Blogger API enforce on every blogging client. You cannot, at this time, upload any pictures to Blogger via any client – it's just not in the cards this time. This is an evolution that needs to happen at Blogger, apparently. You can resize and move around posts in the blogging clients, however.

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