So here’s part one of my comparison of a few Offline Blogging Tools.
First off, what’s an offline blogging tool? Well, it’s a piece of software that allows you to write entries for your blog while not connected to the Internet. When you next connect to the net, you simply hit the “publish” button (or equivalent) and the software posts your blog entry to your site.
Why would you want to do this, when you can just use your chosen blog script’s own interface? Well, for one, if you’re on dial-up, you tend to want to be connected to the net for as short a time as possible. So you would write your blog entry while not connected, then only connect once you’re ready to post – disconnecting again afterwards. Kinda like using an e-mail client while offline.
A second reason for doing this, would be because most web-based blog writing interfaces suck balls. Why use a clunky web-based interface, when you can use a smooth and sexy OS native interface?
So on with the comparison. In this entry, I shall be talking about #MT (SharpMT), from RandyRants.com. Each comparison post will be written using the relevant piece of software, so naturally, this post is being written in #MT.
#MT is a .NET based client for MovableType, written in C# (hence the name). As such, you will need to download the .NET framework from Microsoft, if you don’t already have it installed – beware, as the framework is over 22MB.
The client has many of the features and options for MovableType built into the interface – more options than generic blogging tools the likes of W.Bloggar (see its own post, for more info) have support for. Everything from multiple categories, turning comments on and off, allowing pings… it’s all supported.
Firing up the software for the first time, presents you with a simple, if rather cluttered interface. The toolbars are nice and simple, cleanly laid out, but the entry writing interface is rather cluttered. There are 3 main text areas – Entry Body, Extended Entry and Excerpt. Although the programmer has tried to make them each a good size, they are ultimately too small. To be usable, I had to fullscreen the software.
Entry Body is especially too small – a mere 8 lines tall at fullscreen on a 1024*768 laptop screen. If, like me, you only ever use the main entry body in your blog posts, then this is woefully inadequate.
In other softwares that I will be reviewing, it is possible to turn off the text areas that you don’t need which makes the other areas bigger. It would be a massive improvement to #MT if it had this feature.
As far as actual editing features, #MT seems a little lacking. Although you can easily hand enter HTML code, a lot of the other softwares I will be looking at offer some form of tools and features to insert HTML automatically for you. #MT merely provides the basic bold,italic, underline and link. Also included is a Windows Media Player/Winamp plugin that will insert details of the current track you are listening to and an image upload facility.
Along the bottom of the writing interface, are three tabs: Main (the writing interface); Advanced (set options such as whether to post as draft or publish) and Preview, which does as you expect and gives you a simple preview of your post (though not using your sites stylesheet). Preview displays all of the text areas whether they are filled in or not.
To be honest, I’ve been using #MT all day and I still haven’t “clicked” with it. It seems a bit too limited, despite its wealth of options for MovableType. The interface isn’t wonderful, the editing toolset is maybe a bit too simple and the fact that it requires an extra 22MB download so that it works, all work against it. On the plus side, it’s multi-platform due to the .NET architecture; it’s simple and fast and it offers a wealth of options for MovableType that other Blogging Tools don’t have.
Personally, I wouldn’t use it, but if you’re looking for a fast blogging tool specifically for MovableType, then certainly give it a try. You can download #MT (SharpMT), from RandyRants.com.