More on offline editors

by Lee Hopkins on April 20, 2006 · 31 comments

in miscellaneous

These are a few of my favourite things

A rather splendid online conversation with Dave Briggs has generated into us both thinking about and developing a wishlist of features the ideal offline blog editor would have.

So, taking the best from RocketPost (which I still attempt to use as it was my ‘perfect’ tool until it started crashing so badly and corrupting its database; they continue to post updates so someone must still be working at Anconia…), Qumana, ecto and BlogJet, the list is starting to look a little like this.

Now, I preface this list by saying that whilst I have downloaded the latest Windows betas of both Qumana and ecto, I haven’t installed them yet. So what follows may already be extant in their latest chunk of code.


  • It automatically inserts the url in the clipboard into appropriate dialog box fields when, for example, you create a text link;

  • It generates fully compliant code (even to the point of generating ‘normal’ paragraph tags instead of ‘div’ tags which my WordPress blog doesn’t like too many of);

  • It handles images and image captions (allowing you to put the caption either underneath or on top of the image) with ease;

  • It allows the creation and management of tables, including header, footer and caption tags;

  • It allows you access to the html code so you can tweak where necessary;

  • It reads and stores your css file so you can format your blogpost in accordance with the styles on your blog (useful for captions, pull quotes, etc);

  • It allows you to generate technorati (and other tools – e.g. delicious, furl, etc) tags with ease, and stores those tags for later re-use;

  • It cross-references to previous posts on your blog based on the tags you use (so, for example, if you use the tag ‘Dave Briggs’ on a post, it will also auto-publish a list of links to previous posts that have the tag ‘Dave Briggs’);

  • It allows you to select a list (such as this) and automatically add paragraph tags to turn the list items into readable chunks, rather than a huge block of text scrunched together with a few bullets at the side;

  • It also pulls in comments to previous posts and allows you to add further comments, or edit the existing comments, or approve a comment flagged for moderation, or mark a comment as spam, liaising seamlessly with whatever plug-ins you have and your blog admin area;

  • It cross-references its own saved list of posts from your blog so that when you reference a previous post of yours it automatically puts in a ‘title’ tag with the date and title of the post;

  • It allows you to preview the post, so that you can see what it will look like in ‘real life’ on your blog;

  • It seamlessly uploads and points to images (but not creating a ‘_new’ version of the image on your hard drive as RocketPost did);

  • It allows you to preview images in your ‘images’ folder, so you can choose whether to use one already stored on the server or else create/edit and upload a new one;

  • It stores previously used urls so that you can re-use them (in a similar way to how browsers cache urls);

  • It has an easy-to-access trackback screen that allows you to add trackback uris, and that clearly specifies how it wants you to input multiple trackback uris (e.g. separate with a comma, use [enter] to add uri on a new line, etc.)

  • [Addition:] It allows you to edit your ‘pages’ (WordPress) as well as your blog entries.


As I have said before, RocketPost was my ideal tool — doing everything I really needed really well. It just started crashing and crashing and crashing and corrupting its own database.

But since Dave and I have started down this path of an ‘ideal’ offline blog editor, please feel free to add additional features to the list – who knows, maybe a developer will read them and respond to us all.

  • http://da.vebrig.gs/ Dave

    A great summation of an ideal offline editor, Lee.

    Perhaps after the success of the International Association of Nobodies meme, we should start a similar organisation to promote our view of the ideal offline editor. But what about a name? could I suggest the Blogger’s Off Line League Of Content Kreation Systems? Spelling creation with a k will certainly add to our appeal to the kidz, though the acronym of this putative campaign may cause some difficulties.

    What do you think?

  • http://da.vebrig.gs Dave

    A great summation of an ideal offline editor, Lee.

    Perhaps after the success of the International Association of Nobodies meme, we should start a similar organisation to promote our view of the ideal offline editor. But what about a name? could I suggest the Blogger’s Off Line League Of Content Kreation Systems? Spelling creation with a k will certainly add to our appeal to the kidz, though the acronym of this putative campaign may cause some difficulties.

    What do you think?

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee

    Dave, methinks you are on to an absolute WINNER with this idea! In one phrase you appeal to not only the kidz (always a useful thing to do), but also to the radical and ‘young at heart’ of all of we more mature and emotionally stable members of the community.

    Whenever I next hear young men using the phrase, I shall instantly know that they are talking about offline blog editors.

    WELL DONE, LAD!

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee

    Dave, methinks you are on to an absolute WINNER with this idea! In one phrase you appeal to not only the kidz (always a useful thing to do), but also to the radical and ‘young at heart’ of all of we more mature and emotionally stable members of the community.

    Whenever I next hear young men using the phrase, I shall instantly know that they are talking about offline blog editors.

    WELL DONE, LAD!

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee

    Dave, after the PR success of the IAN campaign on FIR, I will happily promote BOLLOCKS in my report this week. Stay tuned!

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee

    Dave, after the PR success of the IAN campaign on FIR, I will happily promote BOLLOCKS in my report this week. Stay tuned!

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  • http://bluereign.blogspot.com/ stephen

    New visitor to your site. Already enjoying and utilising all you have to say and offer.
    Have downloaded the “The Netwriting Masters Course” PDF – will be printing for ongoing reading shortly.

    Comment:
    The only additional extension I would like for a blogging editor is that the ‘buttons’ for bookmarklets we all use (technorati, del.icio.us, etc are bloglines, etc) can be directly implanted into its toolbars, rather than my browser.
    Maybe it’s possible now – but I’m still using blogger until an easir offline editor is available.

    I am interested in anything you have to say or suggest about my writing style and content, or any other suggestions.

  • http://bluereign.blogspot.com stephen

    New visitor to your site. Already enjoying and utilising all you have to say and offer.
    Have downloaded the “The Netwriting Masters Course” PDF – will be printing for ongoing reading shortly.

    Comment:
    The only additional extension I would like for a blogging editor is that the ‘buttons’ for bookmarklets we all use (technorati, del.icio.us, etc are bloglines, etc) can be directly implanted into its toolbars, rather than my browser.
    Maybe it’s possible now – but I’m still using blogger until an easir offline editor is available.

    I am interested in anything you have to say or suggest about my writing style and content, or any other suggestions.

  • http://www.qumana.com/ Tris Hussey

    Hi Lee,

    Great wish list! As you said in your post you haven’t tried Qumana yet so I can tell you that Q:
    uses p instead of div (fully compliant code)
    let’s you tag your posts with a click
    allows you to manage your posts (for all your blogs) — delete, copy link, re-edit, open to cross-post
    access the HTML code
    seamlessly upload images (no extra copies on your HD)
    manage trackbacks and comments

    We’re WSYIWYG … but not tied to your CSS … yet.

    We also let you insert keyword-based ads into your post and we’re free!

    We are working on your other wish list items … stay tuned!

  • http://www.qumana.com/ Tris Hussey

    Hi Lee,

    Great wish list! As you said in your post you haven’t tried Qumana yet so I can tell you that Q:
    uses p instead of div (fully compliant code)
    let’s you tag your posts with a click
    allows you to manage your posts (for all your blogs) — delete, copy link, re-edit, open to cross-post
    access the HTML code
    seamlessly upload images (no extra copies on your HD)
    manage trackbacks and comments

    We’re WSYIWYG … but not tied to your CSS … yet.

    We also let you insert keyword-based ads into your post and we’re free!

    We are working on your other wish list items … stay tuned!

  • http://www.zoundry.com/ Pidge

    Lee,

    Very nice wishlist. Our application (Zoundry – http://www.zoundry.com/software.html) has most of the items you mentioned – but not all. So, something for us to consider for future point releases.

  • http://www.zoundry.com Pidge

    Lee,

    Very nice wishlist. Our application (Zoundry – http://www.zoundry.com/software.html) has most of the items you mentioned – but not all. So, something for us to consider for future point releases.

  • http://da.vebrig.gs/ Dave Briggs

    Lee – another one for the list: as a WordPress user, I want to be able to write pages in my offline editor as well!

  • http://da.vebrig.gs Dave Briggs

    Lee – another one for the list: as a WordPress user, I want to be able to write pages in my offline editor as well!

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee

    Excellent point, Dave — in fact, something I was thinking about this morning because I needed to update one of my pages and had to go online to do so, whereas being able to edit offline and then publish would have been fantastic.

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee

    Excellent point, Dave — in fact, something I was thinking about this morning because I needed to update one of my pages and had to go online to do so, whereas being able to edit offline and then publish would have been fantastic.

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  • http://nathanbaron.wordpress.com/ Nathan

    Hi Lee,

    I’ve been listening to your comments on FIR and have appreciated your frustrations with offline blog editors.

    Too bad that you are such a die hard windows user, because there is a software package that can do almost all of the things in your list.

    Tinderbox, http://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/, is marketed as an “personal content managment system” but has amazing on-line integration for blogging. It integrates well with most online blogging services and manages all of your RSS feeds for you.

    This is life changing software for a knowledge worker like myself.

    Look it up, you may find yourself wishing for a mac.

    Keep up the great work, really enjoy both this blog and your various podcast offerings.

  • http://nathanbaron.wordpress.com Nathan

    Hi Lee,

    I’ve been listening to your comments on FIR and have appreciated your frustrations with offline blog editors.

    Too bad that you are such a die hard windows user, because there is a software package that can do almost all of the things in your list.

    Tinderbox, http://www.eastgate.com/Tinderbox/, is marketed as an “personal content managment system” but has amazing on-line integration for blogging. It integrates well with most online blogging services and manages all of your RSS feeds for you.

    This is life changing software for a knowledge worker like myself.

    Look it up, you may find yourself wishing for a mac.

    Keep up the great work, really enjoy both this blog and your various podcast offerings.

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee

    G’day Nathan,

    Thanks for your kind comments re my report for FIR and this humble blog. True, I *AM* a died-in-the-wool Windows user… been with it since Win3.0 and always been scared of Macs because they only had the one button on their mouse.

    I know that they’ve gone to two buttons now, but there’s so much software that is written for Win first, *then* Mac, that I still choose to stay with Mr Gates’ incarnation, incredibly frustating as it can be sometimes… :-)

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee

    G’day Nathan,

    Thanks for your kind comments re my report for FIR and this humble blog. True, I *AM* a died-in-the-wool Windows user… been with it since Win3.0 and always been scared of Macs because they only had the one button on their mouse.

    I know that they’ve gone to two buttons now, but there’s so much software that is written for Win first, *then* Mac, that I still choose to stay with Mr Gates’ incarnation, incredibly frustating as it can be sometimes… :-)

  • http://nathanbaron.wordpress.com/ Nathan

    You’re up very late!

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those fanatical people that bash Mr. Gates just because I use a mac. (I use a PC at work as well.) I guess I just follow the tools that work. :)

    One of the great things about Tinderbox is that the developer, Mark Berstein, is very involved in user discussions and is very responsive to his customers. I just love dealing with small developers as the care and love that they put into development means that prodeucts develop more quickly and are more adaptable to changing standards and additional services in main stream blog platforms.

    In the end, tools are tools, and you need to choose the ones that are best for the job. Good luck in your search for a tool that works for you.

  • http://nathanbaron.wordpress.com Nathan

    You’re up very late!

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those fanatical people that bash Mr. Gates just because I use a mac. (I use a PC at work as well.) I guess I just follow the tools that work. :)

    One of the great things about Tinderbox is that the developer, Mark Berstein, is very involved in user discussions and is very responsive to his customers. I just love dealing with small developers as the care and love that they put into development means that prodeucts develop more quickly and are more adaptable to changing standards and additional services in main stream blog platforms.

    In the end, tools are tools, and you need to choose the ones that are best for the job. Good luck in your search for a tool that works for you.

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee

    G’day Nathan,

    It IS late, true! I should really be off to bed (1.38am here) but there’s soooo much happening on the internet sometimes I get scared I’ll miss the best stuff! :-)

    I know that Doug Johnston over at http://www.DIYPlanner.com, http://www.douglasjohnston.net and http://www.astudyinsherlock.net has raved about Tinderbox before, but as you know, being a Win user precludes me from some of the coolest toys! Mind you, I don’t know what I’d do without my MindManagerPro and OneNote!

    I am rapidly falling for Zoundry (yes, it has button problems) and now use it as my blog tool of choice. As far as I can tell they are a small development house and so the personal service I’ve received so far has been fantastic — they’ve gone out of their way to make sure I love their product (which I do).

    But I can’t help feeling that Adobe/Macromedia and Microsoft must be close behind with some sort of blogging tool…

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee

    G’day Nathan,

    It IS late, true! I should really be off to bed (1.38am here) but there’s soooo much happening on the internet sometimes I get scared I’ll miss the best stuff! :-)

    I know that Doug Johnston over at http://www.DIYPlanner.com, http://www.douglasjohnston.net and http://www.astudyinsherlock.net has raved about Tinderbox before, but as you know, being a Win user precludes me from some of the coolest toys! Mind you, I don’t know what I’d do without my MindManagerPro and OneNote!

    I am rapidly falling for Zoundry (yes, it has button problems) and now use it as my blog tool of choice. As far as I can tell they are a small development house and so the personal service I’ve received so far has been fantastic — they’ve gone out of their way to make sure I love their product (which I do).

    But I can’t help feeling that Adobe/Macromedia and Microsoft must be close behind with some sort of blogging tool…

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