Atma Xplorer

Xploring Games, Computing, Photography

Software Review: Week 1

I took about an hour off from editing my paper on Feasibility Studies (*gasp* isn’t the deadline in 2 weeks!??!) to kick off a new segment for my blog. As you can grasp from the title itself, I will start posting reviews on applications on a weekly basis to provide some cohesion on content. I’ve been weighing out the option of providing codes or doing software reviews and decided on the latter so here’s for week 1.

Blogging can be somewhat boring using your blog’s default editor. Drawing from my experience on WordPress, Blogger, Multiply and Live journal, using the WYSIWYG interface can also be quite frustrating especially if you need to insert HTML codes not supported by the editor. Which is why I began looking for alternatives. I stumbled onto Blogdesk first, then Windows Live Writer then just awhile ago (basically the reason why I decided to post now).

Here’s a run down of the 3 Blogging softwares:

Blogdesk:

BlogDesk is totaly free of charge and optimized for the blog systems WordPress, MovableType, Drupal, Serendipity and ExpressionEngine as well as the bloghosters Blogg.de and Twoday.net.

Features:

  • Boasts a simple interface that even for inexperienced users can use.
  • A WYSIWYG Editor that you can switch to HTML view if you need to edit tags.
  • A tools for inserting images. The files are uploaded by BlogDesk, no extra work is needed.
  • Automatic thumbnail handling.
  • An option for saving your work online.
  • Support for categories for blogs like wordpress and drupal.
  • Spell-checker for 14 languages.
  • Features like Notebook (basically a feature where you can dump lines of text like in OneNote), Frequently-Used-Phrases and the Technorati-Tags-Generator relieve you from time wasting and recurring tasks.
  • Support for multiple and cross- blogging.
  • Posts can be saved offline.
  • Ping services for posts.

My Review:

I used Blogdesk for about two weeks before switching to LIve Writer. Frugal, is probably the best description that I can give because it supports only the essential features that a WordPress blog needs to work like tags (although not embedded ones as implemented in 2.3), Categories, a spell check function and basic image manipulation.

Adding your blog is a simple, 5-step process. Here are screens of the import system.

Blogdesk Import Blogdesk Import 2

The interface kinda feels like Open office writer because of the color theme. All the tools within the old WordPress WYSIWYG Editor are present on the toolbar so you won’t feel at all alienated with it’s interface. You can add Technorati tags, or drag Frequently used Phrases via the Extras Menu.

Blogdesk Interface Thumb Blogdesk Features 1

The best feature for me is the notebook because I can easily dump new ideas, what my next blogpost will include, some interesting urls, etc without opening a new program. Items you place in the notebook are automatically saved after you click close.

If you want to learn more about Blogdesk then head over to their site and download a copy.

Airpress:

Airpress is a new entry for blogging tools. It’s made was created via Adobe AIR and needs it’s runtime environment to run.

Features:

  • A unique interface which is powered by Adobe AIR.
  • Currently supports WordPress and dotclear engines
  • A basic text editor that has several basic functions like text alignment, font size and weight and a feature to import posts from text files.
  • Tools for inserting images, sound, videos and even records direct from your webcam. The files are uploaded by Airpress, no extra work is needed.
  • Support for categories for blogs like wordpress and drupal.
  • Support for multiple blogs although you can only access one at a time.

My Review:

I got introduced to Airpress from reading the RSS feeds from YugaTech and decided to add it to the review. My first impression was a bit dismal after reading that Airpress was made via Adobe AIR (which uses Flex, Flash, HTML and AJAX). I wasn’t far off my initial expectations. Although the interface is unique and attractive it’s performance will take a bit of a hit especially on low-speced PCs. Although it’s still in BETA, I expected a bit more efficiency from it.

Importing your blog is easy. Support for multi-blogging is still far off though.

airpress import

The interface is as minimalist as you can get which is good because it got most of the clutter out of the way. What I didn’t like was that there was no way to resize the window. You can move it around yes, but I like seeing more of my work when I’m typing.

Airpress Interface 3 Airpress Interface 1

Aside from the lack of features there’s still a lot of bugs that indicated that Airpress is far from prime time. I would have recommended it as a lightweight alternative to the WYSIWYG editor but then I got a taste of the said bugs. When I tried to edit one of my post using Airpress there were some discrepancy about what the post actually contained and what it displays. Just look at the text below and you’ll see what I mean.

Airpress Interface 2

Airpress still has a long way to go before it even matches the default editor but it’s on it’s way there. My advice is to wait until more features are added and several of the issues that plagued beta users like me have been resolved. You can download Airpress but you need Adobe AIR installed first before you can run the installer.

Windows Live Writer:

As a start, I’ve been impressed with the development going on with Live services as a whole. Live spaces is somewhat basic but it’s just right for newbie bloggers and the Skydrive, Windows online data storage service is one of the few things I really look forward to with MS. Live writer is probably the only MS branded software that I’m willing to do a review on because of it’s utter usefulness.

Features:

  • The Windows Live Interface which is probably going to be inherited by every other MS software like Live Messenger etc.
  • An advanced WYSIWYG Editor that has all the necessary tools you need for blogging. You can switch to HTML view or even the web preview to see how your post will look on your blog without actually posting it.
  • A tools for inserting images, videos, maps, tables. The files are uploaded by Live Writer, no extra work is needed.
  • Automatic thumbnail handling.
  • An option for saving your work online.
  • Support for categories for blogs like wordpress and drupal.
  • Spell-checker (not sure on what language it supports other than English).
  • Support for multiple and cross- blogging.
  • Posts can be saved offline.
  • Ping services for posts.
  • Support for external Plugins.

My Review:

At Beta 2, Live Writer introduces several new features that weren’t present in Beta 1 ( I won’t enumerate what because I got different lists from several “official” sources) and address some issues that users had experienced. I found out about Live Writer after stumbling into it while editing my Live Spaces account. There was a bit of fuss during installation because it required Automatic Updates to be enabled but after that everything was a breeze. Using it seem a bit heavy on resources even with the autosave feature enabled and I hope that it will be addressed in Beta 3 (which is out by the way, I’ll upgrade AFTER posting this because it’s being edited with the Live Writer).

Like Blogdesk, Live Writer allows you to import and manage multiple blogs by simply registering them to the software.

Live writer Import

The interface provides easy access to all the tools and features. For those observant enough though you’ll find that the multiple placement of links to tools can be redundant. For example, you can insert images via the toolbar, the main menu and the sidebar. I know it’s meant to provide easy access to them but 3 instances is too much. As stated in the features list, you can switch views from the WYSIWYG to HTML or the web preview mode. Categories, post slug, excerpts and other stuff can be added or edited via the Property toolbar which can be accessed by pressing F2.

Live writer Interface Thumb

What makes Live writer so useful is it’s support for plugins. They provide additional functionalities to the Writer itself like a delicious bookmark manager or interactivity with other Microsoft services like a Blogthis button on Internet Explorer.

If you want to learn more about Windows LIve Writer then head over to Live Writer Spaces. You can use this link to download Windows Live Writer. Plugins are available for free from the Windows Live Gallery.

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  1. alones October 1, 2007 Reply

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