Do desktop blogging clients offer any significant advantages over using the native web based WYSIWYG editors included with most blogging platforms or are they just an extra layer of fluff?
Being relatively new to this blogging malarkey, I hadn’t heard of desktop blogging clients until the other day when I was reading an article by a professional blogger Darren Rowse at ProBlogger on his “blog posting workflow“, in which he made reference to using a desktop blogging client called ecto (which sadly seems no longer available).
While ecto was originally a Mac only client, they did also a produce Windows version, however, it wasn’t free, and being a bit tight fisted I decided to scour the web to see what else was available for Windows.
After a bit of searching, I came across Windows Live Writer, a free blogging client for Windows from Microsoft. One quick download later and time to experiment…
So what does a typical desktop blogging client allow you to do?
Work Off Line
The key feature of desktop blogging clients is that you can write and edit your blog posts off-line and publish or synchronise them with your blog any time later.
If you are constantly on the move, writing your posts on a laptop where you may not always have an internet connection, then this is probably quite an attractive feature, probably enough to sell it on it’s own. However, if you’re always at home or in the office with a continuous high speed internet connection when you compose your latest literary masterpiece, then this benefit may be a little more circumspect.
If you write for a number of blogs, then the multiple accounts feature of most desktop blogging clients will be of tremendous benefit to you. Using this feature you can instantly hop between your different blogs at the touch of a button, writing and updating posts as you go.
If your blogs are running on different blogging platforms, then using a single desktop blogging client configured with multiple accounts gives you one consistent editing interface across all of your blogs.
Speed and Efficiency
No matter what speed of internet connection you have, web based blog editors inevitably suffer delays and latency issues. The more popular your blog is, the more this may be an issue, depending on the power of your web server. Or, if your blog is on a shared server which is being hit hard, this may also slow down your blog response time.
Editing your blog posts off line is so much quicker, as you only having to connect to the internet to publish your post or to synchronise your blogging client with your blog.
Integrated Spell Checker
While most web based blog editors offer some form of spell checking, these invariably aren’t as quick, integrated or as powerful as those found on desktop systems.
Having multiple blogs on different blogging platforms will also present issues with maintaining different spell checking databases, particularly if you often add custom words to your spell checking dictionary that may be commonly used in your particular area of expertise.
In this respect, having a common spelling dictionary for use across all of your blogs has got to be a major bonus.
- Work off line
- Handle multiple blogging accounts
- Support for different blogging platforms
- Consistent editing interface
- Integrated spell checker
- Quick and efficient
This is my first full blog post written on a desktop blogging client (Windows Live Writer) and I must admit, I’m converted.
I only have one blog to maintain at the moment, so the multiple accounts option isn’t really important for me, but being able to work with most common blogging platforms is good, as the system just integrated seamlessly with WordPress, my chosen blogging platform.
The speed of operation, particularly writing the post piecemeal (a bit today, a bit tomorrow), was a breath of fresh air, it all just seemed so much more efficient and instant. Gone were the delays waiting for pages to refresh in the web browser.
I found the WYSIWIG editor of Windows Live Writer to be absolutely brilliant. The screen looks exactly like the post on the blog by utilising the blog theme’s stylesheet, none of this pseudo WYSIWIG nonsense of WordPress’ native online editor, which I’d always found to be a bit irksome.
Adding a table is an absolute doddle, whereas this can be a bit of a mission in WordPress without having to resort to hacking in HTML or installing a custom plugin for tables. I’ve always found this to be a serious omission with the WordPress editor.
In conclusion, I think desktop blogging clients are definitely worthwhile, making the whole process much more efficient. So, if you haven’t tried one already, don’t take my word for it, download one and had a go for yourself. I’d be interested to see how you get on.
A Selection of Desktop Blogging Clients…
To get you started, here’s a random selection of desktop blogging clients:
SmartXBlog is desktop blog editor for both Windows and Mac, it has WYSIWYG editor, image editor, online news, image and video search, drag and drop option, bookmarks, RSS feed available from nearly 100 popular websites and you can even add your own RSS, pop up alerts of your comments and you can preview and publish your post directly to your WordPress account. Free trial can be downloaded from http://www.smartxblog.com/
Richard Farrar commented
Thanks for the link. It seems an interesting tool. It appears to do everything Windows Live Writer does, but the additional neat thing is the news research and bookmaking capability. The down side I guess is that it’s not free.