So a few weeks ago, I decided to jump on the blogging bandwagon, and signup for a WordPress account. I must admit, I was impressed by how simple it was to install on a server (literally 5 minutes, like they said), configure, upload and select a theme and install plug-ins.
There was one thing that bothered me and I couldn’t ignore no matter how hard I tried … their editor.
Normally, I would have no problem with this, as you will see in my reviews below, that I want the ability to go in and manually edit the source. Using their HTML view however, is worse than using pico as a HTML editor.
I searched far and wide across the Internets for FREE alternative editors, and came up with 11 Editors, 7 of which I have tested and wrote about.
So without wasting any more of your time, here is my list of 10+ FREE Blogging Editors.
Blogdesk, just like their web site, is not too fancy, easy to use, and gets the job done.
- Simple and clean design
- Able to load up already existing posts from your blog.
- Insert Image has lots of features, such as resizing, Crop, Rotate & Flip, Shadows & Borders, and Alignment in Text.
- When they say on their download page that "you can install and run BlogDesk under Windows 98, NT, 2000, ME, XP and Vista", they fail to mention that if you’re running Vista, you first need to install the "DHTML Editing Control" (dhtmled.ocx). They do however, mention it in the FAQ.
- Again, another application that doesn’t include an "HTML" tab.
- To Edit a Category, you have to jump through hoops. Why not have the ability to add Categories under the "Blogs and Categories" section on the side?
- No auto pinging of service such as Technorati, IceRocket or PingOMatic.
Flock 0.9.1.2 (Blog Editor) is a "Social Web Browser", that is built on Firefox (the current Flock is based on Firefox 188.8.131.52). I have heard about this browser about a year ago or so on either Slashdot or Digg (or both), but never gave it much thought until I found out that it included a Blog Editor.
For the review, I only tested out the Blog Editor portion of the browser, with the Flock Blog Plus extension.
- Setting up your blog in the editor is a bit different than most of the other editors. With Flock’s Blog Editor, you click on your blog type from a list (Blogger, Blogsome, LiveJournal, TypePad, WordPress.com, Xanga, and Self-Hosted Blog) which would then bring you to the login page for that blog, where you would sign in.
- Finally, a Blog Editor that has an HTML/Source tab.
- Very clean and simple interface.
- "Blog this" option, which allows you to quickly write something about the current page that you are on.
- ScribeFire like feature which is built in, instead of being an Add-on, and also has a cleaner interface compared to ScribeFire.
- The Tag Plus side bar will suggest tags for your post. It also includes many other features that I have yet to try out.
- Dictionary/Thesaurus sidebar.
- Quickmaps side bar, which allows you to search for, customize, and insert a Google map.
- The contents of the Blog Editor is lost when switching to the ‘Lowerblog’ view.
- The Blog Editor’s ‘Lowerblog’ view is lacking features that are in the ‘Window’ view.
- Only basic HTML options are available (font style, font size, bold, underline, italics, colour, unordered and ordered lists, tabs, insert link and insert image). However, it does have that HTML source tab.
- If you have a new line, by pressing the enter key (and not by using a <br/>) in the Source view, the preview will show the new line. But when you go back to the Source view, there’s nothing in the HTML that is creating the new line.
- Not able to ping services (if it does, I couldn’t find it).
- Not able to save as a draft to your blog.
Post2Blog, made by ByteScout, has probably the ugliest web site out of all of them, which had me worried before I had a chance to test it out …
- Quick to setup it up with your existing blog.
- Simple & clean interface.
- Auto ping different services with each post.
- Skinning … although not a necessity, it does add a nice touch.
- Another one with an HTML Code tab. My faith has been restored.
- Ability to publish or post as a draft.
- Spell checker & Thesaurus lookup
- Insert an Amazon link.
- Firefox and Word add-ins
- Could of added a few more format and insert icons to the toolbar (Update: found more hidden under the Advance button in the toolbar).
- Can’t add Categories from the app. The Categories can only be retrieved from the blog.
w.bloggar comes in two editions, Internet Explorer edition and Firefox edition, which I believe has to do with how the pages are rendered in the preview. Unfortunately, you can only install one of the editions. For this review I installed the Firefox Editions.
- Somewhat quick setup (however the list of blog types to choose from really should be alphabetized)
- You can preview your post as it would look on your site.
- The interface has that mid 1990’s Html/WYSIWYG look and feel (remember ‘HomeSite’?).
- Lack of a WYSIWYG view.
- Using your site’s theme for previewing is more complicated than it needs to be.
- There’s really not a whole lot of good things to mention.
Windows Live Writer (Beta 3), formerly known as OnFolio Writer (it was consumed by Microsoft when they acquired OnFolio in February of 2006), is Microsoft’s desktop WYSIWYG blogging editor, and is now part of their Live collection of applications.
This was the third blog editor that I tried before writing this post, and is the one that I’m currently using.
- It can publish to Windows Live Spaces, Sharepoint, and any other blog that supports RSD (Really Simple Discoverability), the Metaweblog API, and the Movable Type API, such as WordPress, Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad, Moveable Type, Community Server, Drupal and many others.
- The Web Layout allows you to edit your post while using your blog’s styles.
- The Web Preview allows you to view your post as if it were on your site.
- Inserts, Inserts and more Inserts. Not only can it insert the usual hyperlink, picture or table, it can also insert Tags, a Virtual Earth map and Video.
- The plug-in feature is a nice touch. It allows you to either add additional plug-ins from the Live Gallery, or create your own through the SDK.
- It can upload images that you have inserted into your post.
- Auto Ping Servers, however they must manually be added.
- Installation was a bit annoying. For starters, it forces you to install the latest version of Live Messenger, and then just sits there, looking like it’s busy, but instead it’s waiting for you to do something, without letting you know.
- Lack of a Find & Replace. This might not seem like a big deal, but just imagine having a long list of items, and you want to switch the tag that you are using for the titles (from say <strong> to <h4>), or change their inline styles (from <h4 style="font-weight: bold;"> to <h4 style="font-weight: bold; border-bottom: 1px solid black;">)?
- Can’t edit multiple posts or pages at the same time.
- Lack of a Source Code tab or button Instead, you have to either click on the View drop down and then select HTML Code, or press SHIFT + F11
- Seems sluggish at times, when switching between the Web Layout view and the HTML code view.
- Using the Insert Picture tools hangs while trying to load up the image for preview. The picture preview might seem like a good idea, however when adding a lot of images, this just wastes times. This should be optional.
WriteToMyBlog described as "Free Web Word Processor for your Blog", is one of two (the other being Google Docs) web based blog editors that I came across. Overall, I was quite impressed with it.
- It probably has the easiest of all setups.
- Standard and Advanced toolbars. Customization of the toolbar is said to be coming soon.
- Easily add Flickr Photos or YouTube Videos.
- Text/Html tab.
- Save as a Draft, or Publish as New or Edit.
- The editor is too small.
- Doesn’t store your blog info, so if you go to another computer, you will have to go through the quick setup all over again.
Zoundry Blog Writer is one of two (the other being Qumana) blog editors that allows you to sign up with their ad service, and include those ads into your posts through the editor.
- Automatic blog discovery
- Simple, clean looking interface
- It has an (X)Html tab.
- Comes with Tidy and XHTML validation.
- Can add tags for Technorati, Del.icio.us, IceRocket, Flickr, Zooomr, Buzznet, Riya, 43 Things and LiveJournal.
- Allows you to preview your post while using your sites styles.
- Allows you to place affiliate product links (Zoundry Service) into your post.
- One "small" complaint about the interface that I don’t like, and that’s the Html icons, they’re too small, and are on two lines when they can easily all fit onto one line.
- Image properties have to be applied after inserting the image, and can’t be done while inserting (minor complaint).
- Can’t ping services when you publish your post.
Other editors that I haven’t had a chance to review are:
- ScribeFire: An add-in for Firefox, that either sits in the bottom of the browser window, or can be opened in its own window.
- Google Docs: Part of their "Office" collection of web applications. It includes the ability to save to your blog.
- Thingamablog: Sorry, couldn’t come up with anything good to say about it, even if its free.
- Qumana: I did have a review written for it, but somewhere along the line while creating this post, it disappeared. Its a pretty decent all round editor.
Coming into this review, I thought I already had a for sure winner. I even had something ready to write for this spot long before I was finished going through each application. The application that I speak of, is Windows Live Write.
That was until last night, when I installed Flock and tried out its Blog Editor. Almost immediately I knew that this was the one, and again I had something thought of to put in here.
But today I tested out a few more editors, Post2Blog, Zoundry Blog Editor, WriteToMyBlog and BlogDesk, and my final decisions has once again changed.
As of right now, I would have to Post2Blog as my favourite from the list. Its a well polished application, with lots of good features, and very few things to complain about. No, it doesn’t have the ability to insert maps or videos from the get go, however it does come with the ability to insert an Amazon link, and comes with snippets that you can define (there is an Adsense example), which will make it easier to insert whatever you would like.