I’m finally getting off my arse and looking for a decent blog tool.  What I’m finding is that after using the HTML editors I’ve worked on for the last 4 and a half years – first in VB, now in Java – we really do have one of the best editors on the market, it’s not just hype.

Some of what I’m experiencing is no doubt muscle memory and familiarity with a product I both develop and use internally every day, but after all this searching the main result is that the editors these applications use are just not up to scratch.

I want to sit here and say I’ll write my own, and with my knowledge of the public APIs in EditLive! for Java I could write a kickarse little tool, but in reality I don’t know if I want to spend the time getting it right for anyone except me to use.  I’ll make up my mind on that later, for now I need something to get me blogging again.

This post is probably going to evolve as I evaluate more tools over the next few days, but I want to get it up and out there for now.  The starting point (and first 4 editors I evaluated) came from a wordpress faq post.

 

What I want from a blog tool, in no particular order:

  1. Autosave while editing (the single biggest gripe I have with the built-in wordpress editor)
  2. Edit existing posts
  3. Save drafts on the server for later editing
  4. View drafts I have saved on the server, in my current wordpress template
  5. Save posts locally as a draft
  6. Take a draft I’ve saved using the built-in wordpress editor, and edit it
  7. Ability to insert images and have them uploaded to either the built-in wordpress hosting or flickr
  8. Spell checking
  9. Decent editor that at least compares to the functionality I get in ELJ (none I’ve seen so far give me everything I’m used to)
  10. List my categories to post under, and let me add / edit them
  11. Easy way of inserting technorati tags
  12. If it has to disable the entire application when communicating with the server, at least have the decency to grey out completely and not cause total UI lock
    • Ideally it would use a background thread, let me continue editing and pop up a message if anything goes screwy

Partway is not enough.  Either I get everything, or I make do and think about writing my own.  #12 in particular makes me think I’ll finally be installing a dev environment at home 😉

 

So now that I’ve spent far too long explaining my thoughts, here’s the list!  So far ecto is winning, but that’s mostly because it’s the only one with decent features that’s actually stable.

w.bloggar – uninstalled it in about 5 seconds flat. Seriously, I had seen screenshots of ecto so I knew I could get a tool that gave me item 1, and after a brief fling with the menu system and editor options it just completely failed to impress me.

ecto – loses points for not having “blog” in the spell checker, but has a reasonable interface and I got a nice surprise when it autosaved my test post.  It doesn’t autosave drafts to my blog, but it’s a start.  I’m finding it fairly well suited to my needs
If this turns out to be the best option though, I’m probably going to give more serious thought to writing my own rather than paying $18 – maybe I’m missing some options, but items 5 and 6 aren’t available and shouldn’t be that difficult.

qumana – seems a little buggy, doesn’t let me save drafts to the server.

RocketPost – This one looked promising, and indeed meets just about every item in my list plus more that I could use if/when I decide to host this blog myself.  Problem is, it’s buggy as hell. It crashed and the recovery feature doesn’t work which really, really REALLY pissed me off for the same reasons I hate the built-in WP editor.  And then I discovered that the recovery feature had in fact worked and saved about 80% of it, but due to a bug it looked like it was gone and none of my settings had been saved.  I recovered the post by opening the access database manually.
SIGH, the only real issue I had with it was that it failed to download my drafts (it did try though) – but with these bugs it’s not worth US$40.

 
UPDATE: After many ups, downs and debate, I picked ecto.

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