Blog Editor Review: w.blogger
This is the third in a weekly series of reviews of supplementary external blog editors. These programs can be used in place of the Add New Post editor. They allow you to create blog additions externally on your own computer, then load them into WordPress (or any of several other platforms). At first there might seem little reason to do this, but some of the advanced features in these editors make them worth consideration.
What is w.blogger?
w.blogger is a specialized word processor for creation and posting of blog entries. It a stand-along Windows program that allows you to prep your WordPress (or other) blogs offline or on for upload later. It is available in three different versions: full versions for Internet Explorer and Mozilla and a “portable version” you can keep on a thumbdrive. This is nice option.
Installing w.blogger is not quites as intuitive as some blog editors. I had to double back a couple of times, but install completed OK. To allow the program access to your self-hosted WordPress install, you make sure you have enabled the XML-RPC setting under Settings > Writing in your WordPress Dashboard. It will install an icon in your system tray by default, but you can remove this in the Options settings if you don’t want more clutter down there.
This program can post to a greater number of platforms and services than any I’ve seen: In addition to WordPress, w.blogger will post to MovableType, Nucleus, b2, b2 evolution, Blog:CMS, .Text, BlogWorks XML, Drupal, LiveJournal, pMachine, Xoops, E-Xoops, PostNuke, blojsom, Roller Weblogger, Domino, YACS, Xaraya. Also, it posts to services: Blogger, MSN Spaces, TypePad, BigBlogTool, Blogalia, TheBlog, Blog-City, EraBlog.NET, Upsaid, UBlog, SquareSpace, BlogWare, DearDiary.Net.
There is no manual for w.blogger, but it does have a help topics feature that only appears in the full install version. With the portable version, you’re on your own, but for the experienced blogger, it’s not difficult the figure out.
The first thing you notice is the full-width text entry area, which is nice. The text area has threee tabs: Editor, More and Preview. Unlike any other blog editor I’ve seen, w.blogger lacks a WYSIWYG entry interface. Your only option for text entry is an HTML view, which can be hard to get used to for those who are used to seeing actual bold text, italics, etc. instead of code tags during entry. The default text size it 8pt, which I found a bit small, but that’s easily changed in the Options settings. The Preview tab serves well enough for checking how the code will come out, but I miss WYSIWYG.
A nice selection of editing buttons are positioned at the top. I especially like the inclusion of the Undo/Redo arrows, not always found on these editors. There is also a Custom Tags button that allows you to set up special code tags, such as those specific to your blog system. You can also drag the lower row of buttons to the top for a larger work area. W.blogger includes a spell checker and separate buttons for upload as a draft or to directly publish. Just be careful not to hit them by accident, since they are not buffered by a dialog check.
Image insertion is a bit odd. The Image Insert button brings up a dialog requiring you to enter the address of an image already on the web. However, there is a file upload button that will allow you to find an image (or other) file on your computer, then upload it to your server. It also will automatically insert the file at the cursor point. This method looses points for intuitiveness, but works well enough. Also, any positioning of the image after placement will have to be in code.
While everything works smoothly and ample editing features are included, I would only recommend w.blogger for the hardcore coder who prefers to avoid “sissy” WYSIWYG interfaces. While there are merits to seeing the exact code that will go to your web page, I prefer a blog editor that comes close to the MS Word-style I’ve used for years. I can’t say as I would give up BlogDesk for w.blogger, but try it if it sounds like your style.
W.blogger is available for download at wblogger.com