Blog Entry Editors: BlogDesk
This is the second of a weekly series of reviews of external blog entry supplements (see end for list of others reviewed). 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 BlogDesk?
BlogDesk is a free stand-alone that runs in Windows 98+. I reviewed version 2.8. You configure it with your blog’s details and you can easily make new posts without even opening your browser. You can also create new blog posts offline, a great plus for laptop users.
Installing was as simple as a Windows program install can be. Once downloaded from blogdesk.org, click the install file and it’s over quickly and you have a handy icon on your desktop. You can actually start using it before configuring for your blog, but configuration is the logical next step. You go to File > Manage Blogs, click New, then go through a few steps. In order to allow BlogDesk to access your self-hosted WordPress install, you will need to log into your Dashboard and enable the XML-RPC setting under Settings > Writing. I found configuration for my WordPress 2.7.1 blog was super easy. In additon to WordPress, you can post to several other blogging platforms: ExpressionEngine, MovableType, Drupal, Serendipity, dasBlog, Blojsom, Blogg.de, Myblog and Twoday.net.
BlogDesk offers a nice 34 page PDF format manual with all details needed. Freeware programs seldom seem to have that kind of documentation. This program’s so easy to use you almost don’t need it, but it covers all the features well.
The first thing I noticed was the familiar MS Office-style editing buttons across the top– and not a confusing number of them. It has all the essential editing tools, with no confusing jumble of extras. One little thing I like here are the easy-to-find buttons to change text color. Layout is simple and obvious: a large text entry window, a column on the right listing different blogs and categories, settings boxes, and trackbacks, space for the title, editing buttons and the menu bar.
I found text entry in BlogDesk a real pleasure– a word I’ve never used to describe WordPress’ entry form. Expanding the program window to full page gives you about 4 times the work area you have in WordPress. There is a nice spell checker, though it does not underline misspelled words as you go, which would be nice. There is no button for HTML view, but you can do this from the View menu. There is also an Insert HTML button brings up a dialog box allowing you to insert HTML code when needed. I found this worked fine for inserting embeds.
There are three tabbed work screens: Post, More, and Excerpt. You normally work in Post, but for some blogs, you will want to continue a longer piece on the next page. You can simply enter the remainder under More and BlogDesk will create a link to that. The Excerpt panel allows you to create an alternative to the usual first paragraph lift for your Archives pages.
A simple image insert button fetches images from your computer, a web address or directly from the clipboard (a very nice feature). This brings up BogDesk’s handy image editor which does a fine job with such basic tasks ast cropping, sizing and rotation. It features such fun perks as shadows, rotated snapshot-style and paper tear (my favorite).
Blogdesk also features a Notebook utility that allows you to prep text before copy-pasting into the blog. I probably will not have much use for it, but you might. The same goes for the unusual Frequently Used Phrases utility, but both are nice to have.
BlogDesk is a worthwhile alternative to the WordPress WYSIWYG entry form. Anyone seriously persuing blogging will find it far preferable. I liked it’s reliability and ease of use over ScribeFire, which I reviewed last week. While it lacks multimedia bells and whistles, it facilitates the basic tasks of typing and posting a blog very well. You may repost an entry to different blogs easily, though not multiple blogs simultaneously. The ablility to prep your blog offline alone is reason enough to used it for many bloggers.
Find BlogDesk and download it’s manual at blogdesk.org.
Previously reviewed Blog Entry Editors: