Recently I did a review on Weblogging With Your Palm, however since I do the bulk of my publishing with programs on my laptop, I thought it might be good to do a quick run down of what’s available for Windows clients. This mini-review is focused on tools that work with Movable Type (MT). The listed apps may, or may not work with your chosen system if you’re not using MT. I’d suggest a Google search to see what other product are out there for your software.
Why Use A 3rd Party Client?
The MT interface is pretty straightforward and easy to use, so why use a 3rd party client? The short answer is spellchecking. 🙂 The long answer is that, depending on the client you’ve chosen, there’s a wealth of tools to help you with your post. For example having a WYSIWYG HTML editor, being able to compose offline, or being able to save your posts locally. You may not need these extra tools, but if you do one of these applications should fit the bill.
SharpMT is an offline weblog writer that is designed specifically for MovableType. Since it’s optimized for MT, it supports all entry fields: “Entry Body,” “Extended Entry,” and “Excerpt.” In the “Advanced” section, you also have access to all the MT posting options. Basic HTML tags are supported (bold, underline and italics) and you can save your posts locally. Personally, I like saving my posts locally for that off chance that I do something stupid and lose a post. 😛 There is also support for the WMP9 blogging plug-in, which allow you to add “now playing” information into your posts.
This app is the most basic of the bunch out there. There are some features missing that will hopefully appear in future versions. The biggest missing feature is SpellCheck. That is a must have in my book and without it, I simply can’t use this application. It would also be nice to have a little bit more advanced HTML Tag support, including custom tags that you can create.
Zempt is another weblog posting application that is designed specifically for MT. The program is currently at version .0.3, which means that it’s still “in the oven.” Most applications are not officially released until version 1.0, but developers are now tending to pre-release software so that bugs are at a minimum before released to the public. Is Zempt a beta program full of bugs? No, I have not found that to be the case, it’s simply early release software that doesn’t include all the features planned for the software. For example, the tagline for the software is that it will be multi-platform. Linux will be supported in version 0.4 and Mac support will be added by version 0.5.
Zempt has all the same features as SharpMT, but I prefer the interface of Zempt. It’s a little cleaner and easier to use. Zempt also has a built-in SpellChecker (which I found to be better than w.bloggar’s) and about the only other feature that Zempt has that SharpMT doesn’t is support for HTML alignment tags. Lastly, the Zempt website also has a Support Forum, so if you run into difficulty using the software, you have someplace to turn.
w.bloggar is probably the most popular weblog publishing application on the market. The focus of this product is to support as many weblogs as possible, so the user interface is a bit more generic than if it were designed specifically for MT. For example, there is minimial support for “Extended Entries” and no support for “Excerpts”. That being said, there is a bevy of other tools that more than make up for this one downside.
<img src="/images/posts/foo.gif" width="150" height="150" alt="sample tag" align="left" hspace="6" border="0" />
By typing Ctrl +F1 the following custom tag is inserted and then I customize it for the image I’m including. There are 12 slots for custom tags and I’m using them all. 8)
w.bloggar also allows you to post to more than one weblog in any number of formats. So if you maintain a Blogger weblog as well as an MT weblog, you can post to both at the same time. There’s also support for b2, Blogalia, and Nucleus.
After using it for a few months, there are a couple of negatives about this program that I’ve found. The first one I’ve already mentioned, which is the lack of support for “Extended Entry” and “Excerpts”. I use the “Excerpt” field in all my posts. The Exceprt is what is sent out in the notification e-mails that I send out with each newposts. So I have to log in to MT in order to manage this aspect of the weblog. The other glitch that I’ve found is the pull down menu system. The pull down menus do a wipe as they are rendered. If you move your mouse before the menu fully renders, then the first item is selected. Normally the result is minor, however, more than once I’ve gone to do a “Save As” only to have “New” selected. This results in me losing my current post entirely. :/
Other than those two negatives, w.bloggar is the most feature rich application out there, which is why I think it’s the most popular. Unless you have to be able to create entries offline (which w.bloggar doesn’t currently support), then this application is probably your best bet.
Out of all the applications I tried, I found w.bloggar to be the best of the bunch, however, should Zempt add support for custom tags, I’d probably switch. Regardless of the application you use, I’ve found that you still have to log into MT to make a few tweaks and or changes. Each app had one small issue or another, so don’t expect to never use the MT user interface.
The best part about all of these applications is that they are free. So trying them out isn’t going to cost you anything. Depending on how you weblog will determine a lot on which tool is right for you, so try them all out and let me know which you prefer. Also, if I’ve missed a program that works with MT, please let me know by posting a comment. 🙂
Nice work Mike! I should get myself on the ball and review Mac OS weblogging tools. 🙂
You can get the Extended Entry by simply pressing the F4 function key and typing between the resulting tags.
I assume that you’re referring to w.Bloggar and that’s a very cool trick that I didn’t know about. Is there another function key for the Excerpt Field? ???