One of the best ways to critique blogging software is to actually write the review entry within the software itself and document anything you come across as you go. In that vein, this blog entry is currently being written in BlogJet, a commercial desktop blogging application ($39.95) designed to help blogging productivity.
It’s been a long while since I last downloaded and played around with BlogJet. In its original form, it wasn’t enough for me to fork over the cash for a full license. Since then, it’s gone through an entire make over and is sporting a bunch of new features. So, how does it fair this time around?
- Intuitive user interface, with an option to change the look by choosing one of a number of available themes.
- Basic color coded HTML editor with error highlighting and tag auto-complete in code view.
- Word count, with an option to view character, word, and paragraph count .
- YouTube and Flickr content integration (if you’re into that sort of thing).
- Voice recorder (attachment) uploader.
- Tag support with a customizable URL, so you can link to internal tag pages as opposed to Technorati.
- Customizable ping list with trackback support.
- Supports FTP upload or API upload if your blog software supports it.
- Replaces certain typographic elements with their HTML equivalent, such as curly quotes or typing dash twice will yield an em dash.
- Auto replace. Great for the lazy typist (like me); words that you commonly type can be configured to be replaced automatically. For instance, I’ve set it up to replace _wp_ with WordPress.
- Thumbnail image support.
- No HTML code blocks. To insert a block of code, you would need to switch to the HTML editor, locate the position in the post where you want the code to appear, type it, then switch back to the WYSIWYG editor.
- No custom HTML tag support. Though nice to have, the auto-replace feature does not replace this.
- No way to strip paragraph tags in favor of line breaks before publication.
- Sloppy code if the blogger isn’t careful. Some of the afflictions included empty and unclosed paragraph tags, and random non-breaking spaces. (No idea why, did nothing out of the ordinary which would generate them.)
- Borks previously published WordPress entries. WP doesn’t use paragraph tags when it saves a post from the admin panel, therefore, when you download the entry into BlogJet, it lumps the content all into one giant blob with no logical divisions.
- Inflexible toolbar. Adding or removing options from the visible toolbar is not possible, and logical items (i.e. Save icon, Open icon, Font formatting, and so forth) are removed. Though shortcut keys are favorable, it’s still nice to allow the user to decide which lesser used icons should disappear and which oft used icons should be included in the toolbar.
- Randomly inserts the word “Array” into the trackback field in WordPress admin panel. (This wasn’t discovered until the post was uploaded for editing in the admin panel.) — See Dmitry’s comment
Of course, there are a number of additions that would, in my opinion, take this software leaps and bounds above most others. It should go without saying that this wish list is in addition to improvements on items listed in the “Quick Cons” section.
- Lightweight image editor which would allow you to paste an image from the clipboard as well as add a class or ID to an image when inserted.
- XHTML support with in line styles for font formatting as opposed to the font tag and support for all closed tags including horizontal rules and line breaks. (This is actually taking a step backwards as version 1.0 did output compliant code.)
- In line spell checker to underline any misspelled words while writing.
- Built in thesaurus. Nice to have, but certainly not a deal breaker.
- Save toolbar settings on close. Currently, the toolbar starts up with all the available toolbars visible, although I set only formatting to display.
- Auto Save. Anyone who’s written an extremely long blog entry then lost it due to computer error, human error, or just some random act of nature before being able to save it would appreciate this feature.
I like the software, however, it certainly doesn’t increase my productivity as much as it should for the price. If it takes longer to write an entry using a desktop editor than it would by logging into the admin panel and publishing, something is amiss.
In what appears to be a move to simplify the software, it seems to have been inadvertently over-simplified; many features that would be useful for a power blogger are missing.
The question then becomes, does BlogJet make blogging easier and quicker? For the most part, yes, but there is much left to be desired. Despite being outweighed by the pros, some of the cons (for me) are deal breakers. BlogJet’s a great tool for the average blogger, but it may not be worth the price for heavy-duty or technical bloggers who need a lot more flexibility and features.
Don’t take my word as gospel, though. Download it for yourself (there is a free 30 day trial) and decide whether it helps to improve your blogging. The only person it needs to please is you, so if it does make you more productive, then the license would be worth it.
1: The word count varies when switching between WYSIWYG editor and HTML views (intentional?). As of this writing, there are 1024 words in this entry, however, there are 1394 in code view.
2: Though you can change the tagging URL, this is not on a per blog basis, so you cannot customize internal links for your individual blogs.
3: While setting up the FTP upload, I was greeted by a slightly annoying bug. After testing my FTP configuration settings and receiving a successful confirmation, the disconnected window would not close; manually closing the window meant losing all of my changes and needing to re-configure my FTP information all over.
4: Would be a great feature if I could actually get it working. Despite adding some custom words to be automatically replaced and even closing/restarting BlogJet, it still refused to work. However, the default auto-replace words worked.
5: Adding these superscripts (along with the heading tags) were a pain in the rump which could have been avoided with custom HTML tags.
7: Another blow to productivity — needing to edit a blog entry after publication in order to clean up random problems created by the editor.
[tags]desktop blogging application, desktop blog client, blogjet review, blog management[/tags]