Download QumanaAs this banner implies, Qumana's main focus is shielding the user from all that nasty HTML gobbeldygook. Unfortunately, this approach follows the WYSIWYG approach of Microsoft Frontpage to creating content for the Web. Frontpage has allowed many inexperienced users to create web sites (good!), but with horrible underlying code that they do not understand the basic workings of (very bad!). Although Qumana has much to offer, unless they shift more towards a Dreamweaver-like approach-- one that gives both WYSIWYG and full control of native HTML editing-- I fear many power users will stay away. From every indication I've seen so far, these Qumana guys and girls are really listening to the blogging community, so I'm pretty confident that concerns like mine will be listened to, and result in (finally) the killer app for offline blogging. Here's my summary: On the plus side:

  1. Interface and overall polish are top class.
  2. The company is clearly engaged in the blogging community and committed to developing this into the best blogging tool out there. So many others blogging tools look like they are the result of a bored programmer with some time on his or her hands.
  3. The DropPad idea is genius. Seemless drag-and-drop links and images is wonderful. I've been waiting for this all my blogging life without even knowing it.
  4. Technorati tags are great.
  5. The built-in spellchecker uses a common dictionary file format (Addictive Software). It doesn't seem to be documented, but its very easy to add other langauge dictionaries.

Suggestions for improvement:

  1. Ability to edit in native HTML mode. Absolute must.
  2. Ability to retrieve and edit previous posts.Ditto
  3. Too word processor-like (à la Frontpage). Power users want to be able to post straightforward text and let the stylesheet do the rest. New users shouldn't be led to believe in a blinking red 14pt Comic Sans WYSIWYG illusion, but rather proper separation of content and style.
  4. Expanded DropPad organization: ability to organize and save links and resources for mutliple future posts, saved history, etc.
  5. Ability to create custom tags and modify the button bar
  6. A more intuitive and context-sensitive interface. Double-clicking an image or link should bring up the property dialog for that tag. I only discovered by accident that this can be achieved by hitting the respective insert button, which allows you to change the properties of the tagged text or image that your cursor is within.
  7. Ability to assign MT fields such as Excerpt and Extended
  8. Ability to set posting status. For example in MT, whether the post is draft/publish/future, comments on, convert line breaks, urls to ping, etc.
  9. Ability to specify a default template for posts, and perhaps to even have a realtime preview of the final product by having a link to one's own blog's stylesheet.
  10. Just an idea, but when you drag-and-drop an image you should have the option to hotlink (link to image on the originating server) or automatically save to a temp folder and upload to a preset location. These settings could be specified in the preferences (either hotlink, upload copy, or ask each time). There are pros and cons for both hotlinking and copying someone else's image to your site. Users should be able to decide for themselves.
  11. The menu does not have File... New... to clear the current post and start a new one. Nor is there simply a File.. Save... to save changes over the current file

Tris Hussey of Qumana has already commented on my previous post/comment that they are ready to listen. On behalf of bloggers, I say we're ready to help you make Qumana all it can be. I hope this helps.

Update 01/09/05As I've just downloaded and installed Qumana 2.0 after taking their online user survey, I thought I would update my "review" to amend those features that have been added since I first posted this. Actually, there has only one item off my want list (edit previous posts) has been added. Despite the improvements, the lack of real HTML editing continues to be a deal-breaker for me. As much as I like Qumana, having to re-edit my posts inside Wordpress is just not on.

Posted on July 6, 2005 and filed under Blogging.