In search of the perfect blogging tool

I’ve been hunting for a Mac equivalent to Windows Live Writer. Here’s my personal checklist/wishlist of what an offline blogging tool should do.

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Ecto
(Mac & Windows)

MarsEdit
(Mac only)

Qumana
(Mac and Windows)

Windows Live Writer
(Windows only)

Easy (mouse-free) way to add links by selecting text

+ [1]

+ [2]

+ [3]

+ [4]

WYSIWYG / rich text editing

+

+

+

WordPress categories

+

+

+

+

WordPress tags

+

+

+

Scheduled posting

+

+

+

+

Easy to add Flickr photos

+ [f]

+

+ [e]

+ [!]

Easy to add YouTube (etc) videos

+ [e]

+ [e]

+ [e]

+ [!]

Undo

+

+

+ [w]

+

Creates nice clean HTML

+ [u]

+

+

+

Post to blog as draft

+

+

+

File upload

+

+

+

+

Web preview mode (what will it look like on the blog)

+ [f]

+ [!]

+ = yes
= no (or if it’s there, I couldn’t find it)
[1] = ⌘+U (or Shift+⌘+U to use clipboard text and bypass the dialog)
[2] = ⌥+⌘+A (or Shift+⌘+A to use clipboard text and bypass the dialog)
[3] = Shift+⌘+L
[4] = Ctrl+K
[f] = with a little bit of fiddling
[e] = via HTML embed codes
[!] = really stupidly wonderfully easy
[w] = only in WYSIWYG mode, for some reason
[u] = Generally not too bad, but <span style=”font-style: italic;”> rather than <em>? Urgh.

Windows Live Writer is by far the best blogging tool I’ve ever used, but sadly it’s Windows only. It’s the benchmark by which I’m judging the others, but it would get big additional bonus points (if points were being given) for making it stupidly, wonderfully easy to insert Flickr photos and YouTube videos, without even needing to paste any HTML. Pasting in the URL for a Flickr photo / YouTube video into the editor is enough to make it do the right thing, which is a wonderful timesaving feature. The web preview auto-detects what your blog looks like, which makes an accurate preview trivially easy too.

Qumana is free, but a bit ‘monetized’ (there’s an Insert Ad button I have no interest in using, and the website says things like “Make money from your blog content by inserting the ads of your choice…”) but it’s nice enough. Each post automatically includes a “Powered by Qumana” link, which can be deleted by hand. The biggest problem with it is that alt+left/right doesn’t do anything, and instead you have to use ⌘+left/right to jump left/right by one word which is just wrong (or at least grossly inconsistent with every other Mac app I’ve ever used). Given my desire to use the keyboard for just about everything I do, this alone is a showstopper.

Ecto costs $17.95. Flickr support comes via a plugin, but sadly the output doesn’t follow the Flickr terms of service (the image should link to the photo page, but doesn’t until you add the link yourself). Rich text editing is nice though.

MarsEdit costs $29.95. It’s Flickr tab makes it very easy to add your own photos. No rich text editing but does have nice support for macros. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty with some HTML, it’s great.

Depending on whether you like hacking HTML or really need a rich text editor, you’ll probably prefer MarsEdit or Ecto respectively. I’m enjoying MarsEdit enough to stick with it for now. I still have yet to find anything quite as nice as Windows Live Writer on the Mac though. Have I missed any?

6 replies on “In search of the perfect blogging tool”

  1. Have you tried Wine? I don’t know how sneaky Windows Live Writer is, but it’s worth a try.

    Personally, I’ve always found the wordpress write page pretty good for composing, especially since the upgrade (easy upload of images and linking to flickr).

    Seems to me that some kind of firefox plugin might be the thing, to make embedding of videos and images really easy. I always liked the right-click “send to Xbox” menu item on youtube videos.

    Have you tried ScribeFire or DeepestSender? I understand that they aren’t fully featured, but they might be good to use for some kinds of posts.

  2. The WordPress page is good, but I do like having something entirely offline. I’ve not tried ScribeFire or DeepestSender, I’ll give them a go.

    And XBMC-on-a-Mac looks really interesting too. Thanks.

  3. Roo, I am yet to find anything on the Mac that comes close to Live Writer, or even BlogJet which is another cool Windows only blog editor.

    We need someone enterprising to replicate WLW functionality in an Adobe Air based app, so we can have the same cool tool no matter what platform we are on.

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