After singing the praises of w.bloggar only a couple days ago (apparently to the astonishment of Teemu), I've now realized that all offling blogging tools suck. Okay, so "suck" is technically too strong a word, as many of them are actually quite good, but all have a frustrating Achilles heel. It would seem that all of them have about 90% of the required features of a good offline bloggin app, but fall short of at least one critical piece that one of the others have. There just isn't one that has everything. In an actual attempt to contribute something to the discourse on online blogging tools, I'll make a short summary. As it turns out, w.bloggar suffers slightly because of it's blog-to-allness. It supports not only Movable Type, but a wide range of other blogging systems. To be all things to all blogs, it understandably lacks a few MT niceties like fields for extended entries, excerpts, and keywords... not to mention a means of adding additional categories to entries. Also, the preview function is ok, but doesn't work perfectly in all cases as you can only specify a style for title and a style for entry, rather than full CSS layout of the entry.
SharpMT is only for Movable Type, so includes most of the features missing in w.bloggar, like specific entry fields for extended entry, exerpt and keywords. But there is no way to customize the styles for the preview function. Unacceptable, sorry. Also, in what seems a common problem, there is no way to edit existing entries. W.bloggar has some nice functions for retrieving and editing previous posts, but SharpMT is strictly for adding new entries.
Ecto is obviously a Mac blogger darling that has deigned to make a Windows port. At first glance, Ecto seems to have everything one could possibly ask for, include a luscious interface for editing all past entries and even messing around with categories and other MT niceness. But, alas it refuses to play nice with my Movable Type installation, complaining about some unreliable XML when it tries to read my existing entries. So its no good to me. It could be that it's completely my fault, but every other package I tried was able to interface amicably with my online blog, so I don't know what's up with Ecto. I'd gladly give it another chance if the Microsoft-hating programmers would take mercy on me.
W also have Zempt, co-created by a stalwart of the MT hacking world, Adam Kalsey. To tell the truth, it's what I'm using to create this entry, if only because it was the last (alphabetically?) one I installed. Now Zempt works great as an offline blogging tool, except for the fact that they take offline a little too literally. You see, I suspect there are many others, like myself, that are still online 99% of the time, but want an app that enhances their blogging experience with a few class trimmings. But Zempt lacks any real WYSIWYG previewing since it won't grab a stylesheet from the web, or give options for adding your own HTML/CSS formatting. Other than that, it's a pretty good package and I'm going back and forth between it and w.bloggar.
While this bloated entry (designed especially to enrage Teemu-- you see I don't sleep at night!) is calling out for a comparison table, I'll summarize with the following "must haves" for an offline blogging tool (damn, no bullet formatting function!):
- Separate entry fields for all MT entry parts: Main Entry, Extended Entry, Excerpt, and Keywords
- Full control over Category, and Secondary Categories, plus other entry functions such as Comments, Pings, Draft/Publish, etc.
- Ability to fully control preview formatting with HTML and CSS styles
- Editing control over previous entries from weblog