Blog Editor Review: Zoundry Raven Beta
This is the forth in a weekly series of reviews of 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 Raven?
Zoundry Raven is a free program that expands the capabilities of a blog editor to become more of a multi-blog management system that allows you to create new entries, edit existing entries, and manipulate your blog in various ways. Though it’s useful for managing a single blog, it can easily manage multiple blogs– you can even publish a new entry to a several different blogs at once. This feature alone makes it worth using for many web business bloggers. Unlike any other blogging tool I have seen, Raven is based around a Windows Explorer-like “Account Navigator” interface that makes the basics of blog management a snap.
Raven is currently available for Windows 2000 and later. During the setup process, Zoundry Raven gives you a choice of a normal Windows install or a portable install, normally to a thumb drive. This way you can carry your blog settings and not yet uploaded entry files from computer to computer. With a self-hosted WordPress install, you will need make sure you have your XML-RPC box checked in your Dashboard under Settings > Writing. This enables external control of of the blog. Setup will take you directly to configuring your first blog, which I found very easy. You may add additional blogs by clicking the Add Account button in the Account Navigator. In addition to WordPress, Raven can be configured for Drupal,TypePad, Xaraya, Live Journal, Movable Type, Blogger, and several other platforms and services.
Upon install, you find yourself in Raven’s Account Navigator, which features an Explorer-style file tree down the left column and on the right a list space at top with a preview window below. The tree seems to distinguish a WP blog’s entries from pages as separate “blogs”, but this doesn’t seem to matter. At first you find the “Zoundry Raven Raven Dashboard” occupying the large right panel, with three links allowing you to create a new blog account, change settings or set up media storage.
The Account Navigator divides an individual blog into Posts, Links, Images, and Tags. Clicking any brings up a list on the top-right window. The Links view is interesting. It organizes all the links on your entire blog site into alpha order. Clicking one shows you every location of that link on your site. Double clicking a location allows you to edit the pages/entries. Unfortunately, there seems to be no way to edit the links alone so multiple entry editing is not necessary. This would have been a nice feature. You can also view all images and tags. Tags are displayed in colors and sized according to use. I found the image viewer useful for locating hidden image files that had sneaked in with links.
Double-clicking a blog entry title in the Post view downloads the entry for editing and brings it up in a separate editing window. I found this window a more than adequate word processor for blogs and far preferable to the WordPress stock editor. Multiple entries can be up at once with convenient tabs to switch between. Using the “+” button on the right allows you post a single blog entry to an addition blog. I got it to bring up spaces for a total of 3 blogs, even though the Navigator had me set up for 4. Still, that’s a nice feature. You have a choice of working in three views: Design, XHTML and Preview.
The XHTML view color code tags and separate paragraphs, which is handy. I found the Preview view superfluous, since it looked exactly like the Design view. The Design view offers about the best blog entry experience I’ve found. It has a reasonable selection of editing buttons, including Undo/Redo. Image insertion is very easy. You can align the image to left-right-center and see it aligned in the Design window. Publishing just takes pushing a button.
Be Sure You Read This
Here something important to know about Raven: In order to generate revenue for Zoundry, by default all of your product links (Amazon, etc.) are converted to affiliate links benefiting Zoundry. To disable this, go to the Account Navigator Tools > Preferences > Affiliate Links and uncheck the box. I suggest doing this whether you intend to post your own affiliate product links or not. The presence of affiliate links in your website coul be a hinderance to your search engine ranking. Sacrificing ranking or site revenue could make this a very expensive blog editor, indeed.
I like it. It adds great ease and utility to the blog writing experience, with great control over multiple blogs and blog files. The abilty to post to multiple blogs at once could be quite useful. If you are blogging for income, however, certainly remember to disble the link-switching, though.
Zoundry Raven can be downloaded free from zoundryraven.com.
Previously reviewed blog entry editors: