June 2, 2006

Scavenger hunt

There are days when I just spend all of my time hunting for something. No, not the meaning of life :p I’d set my sights on a specific set of features for an app and then I’d go hunting. There’s a lot of interesting stuff such a hunt turns up but sometimes it ends up being just a waste of time :p

Following up on yesterday’s comments about a good blogging client which supports the MetaWeblog API, I launched a search for such a client. Sure, I found lots and lots of them but the question is, were they any good? :p Most of the ones I found, I’ve added to the list of clients provided at the above wikipedia entry. Not sure if that entry will remain as it is but if you’re interested, you can take a look there :)

Basically, I was looking for the following features – full MetaWeblog API support (including the uploading of images – no FTP!), should fetch the complete post (most of the clients I tested fetched only the first part of the post if there was a more … tag), should have a WYSIWYG editor, should fetch all categories correctly from the server and mark each post with the correct categories. Those were the major features. In the "nice to have" section you have, the ability to fetch and save old posts from the server and the option to fetch only posts made by yourself.

Most of the clients I tried out failed the "must have" list of features. Quite a few of them did not fetch the full post for some reason – I’m guessing that they implement the MetaWeblog API but don’t look at the text returned by the more part of the entry for some reason or other. And an interesting thing was that there were a lot of clients out there which use the .NET Framework – I guess apps using the .NET Framework are going to be as common as VB apps soon! Wait, what am I saying? VB now use the .NET Framework :p

Yes, all poking fun at the .NET Framework aside, I found all the apps using the framework to be rather clunky, glitchy and slow. Sometimes things would work and sometimes things just didn’t. It gave me a rather bad taste in the mouth after a while. But moving on, I found only a few clients which actually met my standards – BlogJet, Anconia RocketPost and Chrysanth WebStory. I must mention that BlogWizard appeared to be capable of meeting the standards but I could never get it to work well or reliably. I was able to look at a post it fetched by opening it in a text editor and the post had everything but the category info but I could never open the post in BlogWizard itself :p

As far as the successful candidates go, I don’t like the editing interface in BlogJet since it seems to be a bit minimal but it does seem to do the job very competently. RocketPost is the one with the most bells and whistles and the one I would call the closest to my ideal. It had only one issue that I could find – it consistently removes an HMTL comment tag that I placed at the beginning of each entry. This comment marks where the system would later insert a Google AdSense code and so it was irritating :p WebStory had a lot of bells and whistles as well but while it fetched the category list correctly from the remote server, for some reason, it wasn’t assigning them to the posts at all when it fetched posts. Besides, it seemed to have set limits on post titles when the remote server didn’t – this was annoying.

Unfortunately, all of my final choices are commercial apps and while I like RocketPost, I am not about to pay $99 for the professional version which supports multiple blogs. (The home version costs $37). BlogJet on the other hand is $40 and does support multiple blogs. Of course, given that I still can’t find something within my price range that has everything I want, I might be better off simply coding the features I want into Blog :p Though looking at all these new blogging clients has made me re-think the user interface in Blog. Hmm …

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Tags: Blogging, Internet, Software
Posted by Fahim at 7:24 am   Comments (0)