I'm still in the process of deciding what software to use on my machine since my transition back to using a Mac. Today, I installed "ecto", a desktop/offline blog editor. If you blog and you haven't tried this type of software, you really should. As nice as the browser editors in blogging software has gotten, the desktop experience for creating blog posts is a even better.
A few of the high points:
- You don't have to be online.
Posts are created and edited "locally" on your computer with no need for an internet connection. While you could do this type of offline editing with a word processor that would mean having to jump through additional hoops later. With software like ecto, you simply hit a "Publish" button when you have a connection and are ready to send the post to your blog.
- Software on your computer move faster.
Browser based editors are decently fast but they have to communicate with a remote server which causes latency. These delays are usually minimal, but compared to software that is running directly on your computer it's a dramatic difference.
- Software on your computer behaves better.
The online edit pages for blogs try their best to prevent you from doing stupid things, but they are limited by the the functionality that's built into the browser they are running in. It's all too easy to select and delete text that you can't get back via "Undo" or to navigate away from a page and loose an entire post. The safeguards protecting you from yourself from this kind of behavior are more robust when using local software. They can't entirely prevent you from doing something stupid and loosing a bunch of work, but they are better at preventing it.
While there are other advantages, those are the main ones I've in the short time I've been using desktop blogging software.
Ecto is the second piece of desktop blogging software I'm trying out. The first one was "Mars Edit". The biggest difference right off the back is that ecto has a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get edit window. Mars Edit is a basically an HTML editor. While I'm a geek and can easily move around in code, when I'm making blog posts I much prefer a W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G. editor.
Writing and thinking about code are two different mental modes. Even if you are really good at both, having to switch gears imposes a state change cost on your mental processing. It's a great way to break concentration and kill a thought before you get it out.
Both Ecto and Mars Edit are commercial pieces of software which cost $19.95 and $29.95, respectively. While I'm a huge fan of Free and Open Source Software, I've got no problem paying a reasonable price for good software. Especially when there isn't a viable Open Source alternative. Just based on the W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G editor in ecto, I'm probably going to purchase it after the trail expires. It's well worth $20 to gain the benefits of as desktop blog editor.