Sunday, 19 May 2013

Off Topic: Offline Blogger Editing

Offline Blogging

This post is a little bit off-topic, in that it is about blogging, and specifically Blog Editors; rather than the main theme of this blog which is Sailfish.
But given that the SailfsihOS is only in alpha, the communication of ideas and help amongst the nascent Sailfish community is valuable, and blogs are a vital tool to enable that. Hence this "off-topic" post.
I tend to write the first drafts of posts to this blog in dead time; often on the train to and from work; or when we have bad weather of the Föhn is blowing, either of which render flying impossible or dangerous.
This means that I prefer to build up the bulk of the content behind each article off-line.
My first attempt was with MS Word, on the basis that I have it open any way. However I found that the resulting HTML in Blogger was polluted with lots of Microsoft specific tags; and as I found myself editing the Blogger HTML more than I like, this just made life much harder than it need be.
So I next settled on TextEdit, the OSX default text editor, which actually worked well in terms of trapping content. But of course I had to format everything in the online Blogger editor.
And that is not as nice as it should be. Headings and line / paragraph spacings are a real pain. Hence the need to edit the HTML.

Dedicated Offline Blog Editors

Then it occurred to me: Do offline Blog Editors exist? With that soft of sinking feeling "no they don't -writing one will become my next project distracting me from my current projects …) I googled.
With success. Many such tools; and sites recommending them do exist. In fact we are spoilt for choice.
Having browsed several "Best X Offline Blog Editor" pages I plunged for one.
In order to protect the guilty I will say only that its name starts with Q.
The first sin of this Editor was that it refused to connect to my blog, and googling produced no workable solutions. Very much a chocolate teapot.
The second sin was that if refused to quit (OSX dock / right click / quit), and had to be killed by means of "Activity Monitor", rapidly followed by Trash.
I next tried MarsEdit. It connected to my blog without any problems, found existing posts; and I am now using it to pen this article. (kind of bootstrapping: an post about off-line editors in an off-line editor.
What can I say during my first post?
a) unlike the Blogger preview, the MarsEdit preview lets me test links. --> good
b) all the options to format text are "hidden" under a drop down menu "Format" in the top right hand corner. This is great once you have found it, but maybe not intuitive. --> not so good.
c) round-trip editing (i.e using both MarsEdit, and later the on-line editor may not work so well. While a MarsEdit post looks great when posted; when opened in the off-line editor the default font changes from Arial to Times: This could be down to the HTML from MarsEditor being much less verbose (e.g. not explicitly specifying the font".
This is not yet an endorsement; several posts later when I have gained more experience I will edit this post accordingly.

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