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Introduction to Desktop Blog Editors

Posted By Darren Rowse 1st of August 2006 Blogging Tools and Services 0 Comments

LifeHacker ran a reader poll last week on what desktop blog editors bloggers are using. The results showed that just over 60% don’t use any. It was a close race after that with Performancing’s Firefox extension winning out with 11.7% and w.bloggar coming in second at 10.2%. Ecto, Qumana (I reviewed an early version of Qumana here) and Zoundry were the others but got only between 8.4% and 3.2%.

As a followup post Lifehacker has done a little introductory comparison between the editors and includes BlogJet and Flock’s blog editor in the wrap up.

Another one that I know some people use is Thingamablog (although it’s been a while since they updated). There’s also Blog Desk, Post2Blog and Mars Edit. There are others – feel free to let us know what you use in comments below).

Do you use a blog editing tool outside of your blog’s platform?

Why would you use a Blog Desktop Editor?

Here’s why I use ecto (for Mac) and can’t imagine blogging without it (the reasons I mention here would be similar to why most bloggers use different editors):

  • One Click Blogging – most blog editors have a way of publishing to your blog with one or two clicks from your browser. Ecto for instance has a bookmarklet that allows me to highlight text on a web page, click the bookmarklet and have what I’ve highlighted come up as a quote with a link back to the page. I can format how the quote and link looks as a default – add my own comments and then post publish.
  • Manage Multiple Blogs from One Point – at one point (a year back) I was blogging on up to 20 blogs each week. Many blog editors allow you to set them up to blog to them all without having to log into the back end of the blogs. It will also allow you to have multiple blogs on multiple platforms, so if you have TypePad, WordPress and Movable Type blogs you can edit them all from one spot. This speeds up your blogging. Many editors will let you set each blog up differently with it’s own defaults and settings.
  • Image Management – drag and drop images into the editor, resize them like you would a Word document, rename them, create thumbnails etc. While many blog platforms now allow this from within them I find editors slightly more functional.
  • WYSIWYG – again, blog platforms are headed in this direction but I find they they can be a little buggy in this mode. Of course you can always go into HTML mode also if you’d prefer to edit your posts that way.
  • Offline Blogging – one thing I especially love about using ecto is that I can head to my local cafe (where there’s no WiFi) and blog away to my hearts content in ecto. Then when I come home or hit a WiFi area I can simply publish my posts. Previously I had to type things up in a text file, copy them across, format them and then publish.
  • Backed Up Content – another reason I like to have a desktop editor is that it means I have a copy of my posts on my desktop for easy reference or backup purposes. I’ve never needed it as a backup but regularly look in ecto for old posts rather than search for them on my actual blog. ecto has a ‘search’ feature that will scan old posts if you’re looking for a word or phrase – very handy to see what you’ve previously written or if you’re on the road speaking somewhere and want to use an old post in your presentation
  • Spell Check – again, it’s built in to many blog platforms but having an as you go spell check is very handy – especially for me who is spilling challinged. If it could only do grammar too!!!
  • Integration – I can’t speak for other editors but ecto integrates with delicious, has tagging of entries built in, automatically pings different services and has a range of other automated features that make blogging a breeze.

Each editor will have it’s own feature set but in all I find desktop blogging editors to be an essential part of my daily blogging rhythm. They are especially useful for busy bloggers or bloggers who are managing multiple blogs.

Do you use an editor? Which one? Why? What features would you like to see in your ‘dream desktop blog editor?’

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Those features sound vaguely familiar …

    Regardless, I agree with you on all those key features. So you can read into that anything you want.

  2. Wooo ProBlogger is back up :D

    I have given a few desktop clients a try but have never stuck with them and they have yet to pull me away from the WP control panel.

    I have tried Ecto & Qumana, I like them and can’t complain one bit, I might given them a try another time to see if I can pull myself to using them, if Darren does, they must be good lol. I can for sure see the advantage of being able to blog to all of my blogs from one place.
    As for the WYSIWYG I don’t tend to use the WP one and prefer being able to see the code as this offers me some more control, and good old google toolbar with spell checker ;).
    Also from the WP admin I can view stats, google visits etc from various plugins, which always draw me to checking anyhow.

    The thought of off-line blogging is cool though :)

  3. Anyone with a blogspot blog will find the advantages of desktop editors somewhat limited because of the inability to upload images. It seems that the problem is with the Blogger API rather than the various desktop editors. Using images with a desktop editor therefore requires hotlinking images from other sites or adding them manually through the online editor after the text of the post has been written and posted. So that is why I primarily use the online editor, despite its clunkiness. The best editor for handling images with blogspot blogs is Flock’s, which allows easy integration with Flickr, but this too has inherent disadvantages to hosting images directly.

    My experience has also been that what you see in the editor is not necessarily what you get once the post is published. There is a tendency for line breaks to get messed up, especially with blockquotes.

  4. I’ve always wondered, since you mentioned the picture thumbnail point, Darren:

    I see a lot of celeb-blogs that post pictures which actually goes to another page (with ads) like this example (click on a thumbnail to see):


    I wonder how this could be done? are they using a program which is possible listed above, or is it a plugin that they have there.

    What programs allow thumbnail-link-creation ?

    Thanks in advance,

  5. Darren, are you using Ecto with WordPress 2 blogs? For the life of me, I haven’t been able to get it to post images properly – I always get errors back from the server. I’ve also had a few text-only articles that simply wouldn’t post. I could never figure out the reason for either of these problems.

    I’m not some n00b that has no idea about how this stuff works, either – I’m a computer engineer. I’ve got multiple blogs, all set up exactly as described in the WordPress installation procedures, and all patched up to the current WP release.

    I don’t expect tech support from you, but since you’re a heavy user of Ecto on Mac I was just curious if you’d had any similar problems.

  6. I’ve had pretty decent luck with Zoundry. Granted, they do kinda push you getting into their own affiliate network and then pulling only a portion of the commision you deserve. That can easily be avoided though through doing your amazon links via the Amazon plugin which works pretty well. I even pull the code from the plugin and insert it as html in Zoundry to save time (and it beats logging into Amazon and doing it the old fashioned way). I tried Qumana, liked it, but I’m into free. Ecto looks interesting. I may have to try it out. Simple is better.

  7. I’ve tried Performacing’s Firefox plugin once just to post an ‘test post’ on my test blog just to see how it actually works and to get the feel of it. I was quite impressed but the inability to include photos turned me off.

    I wanted to give Ecto a shot but decided not to since it’s not for free.

  8. I forgot to mention. Writely.com now also supports WordPress and seems to work pretty well. Although, at that point, you might as well log into the admin panel.

  9. no i’ve had a good experience of it Darren. I’ve had some issues posting to MT blogs with it but that could be more my MT blog’s ongoing issues. Shoot Adrian from ecto a msg and I’m sure he’ll help you out.

    Allen – when I do that I do it manually although with ecto you can drag a picture in, highlight it and then use the ‘link’ function to hyperlink it. Not sure about other editors but I’m sure they can do it too.

  10. I’m with Darren on Ecto. Overall, it’s one of the best software purchases I’ve ever made. The benefits are probably most obvious if you blog several times per day, or maintain multiple blogs (as Darren said), but I also prefer the more word-processor-style feel of a good desktop editor. As a Mac application, Ecto’s hotkey support increased my blogging speed dramatically. Want to create a link to the URL currently in your browser window? Just highlight the text and click Command-Shift-U. I got so used to those shortcuts that I find myself reaching for them even when I’m using my blog’s web interface. It’s at least worth trying the free 30-day demo.

  11. Darren,
    Thanks for this great overview. Friends have recommended a variety of these desktop editors to me. So far, I’ve found that with the exception of offline blogging, WordPress offered me all of the features I have required. But, now that I’ve read your views I think I’ll give a desktop editor a try.

  12. I tend to use Qumana most of the time mainly because of its integration with q-ads. However with only the limited control over the ads selected plus some other issues i’m probably going to go back to using w. bloggar as it does the job fine ….

    unless someone wants to buy me a mac to give ecto a try ?

    No? Thought not!

  13. I’ve been considering buying a liscense for ecto — though I’m not sure if it’s worth the investment.

  14. Damien, I can only vouch for the Mac version which is great. The PC one I’ve heard mixed reports on although have heard it’s improving.

  15. […] Also, if anyone’s wondering, Darren at Problogger recently made an entry on desktop blog editors. Check it out if you’re curious to see who uses these things, and what flavors they come in. In the meantime, I’ll be taking full advantage of the demo of ecto’s current release… […]

  16. Well, luckily for me I work of a G4. :)

    Thanks for the vote of confidence — I’m trying out the ecto demo so far and it’s been great. $18 isn’t sounding so bad; though I’m considering holding off, the dev blog mentioined ecto 3 coming out soon, and I’m not sure if the liscense covers a major upgrade.

  17. I use Journaler which is great donationwear for the mac. but I am going to give ecto a try, it sounds good. Journaler has great iLife integration and is pretty nice to use but I would like better image handling I admit… I think using an editor makes sense if you use safari as many online WYSIWYG editors don’t work on Safari. HTML is fine but sometimes you just want to do it quickly.

  18. If you haven’t tried it yet, try Blogdesk, I’ve always been anti desktop blog editors prior to Blogdesk and in the 3-4 months I’ve used it I’ve never looked back, image editing and uploading…what more can I say…the newest version allows you to edit old posts as well…its just far and away the best of the best!!!!

  19. I never even though desktop blog editors existed :P
    I downloaded Performancings Firefox Extension and I love it! I really want to blog a lot more now. WordPress’ WYSIWYG editor always gives me issues.

    Great Post.

  20. For anyone interested in knowing a bit more about Flock’s built-in blog editor, I just ran a post at http://laurencetimms.com.

    I’ve been using it for a month, and it’s a neat tool. Not as feature-rich as, say, Performancing, but robust and very usable.

    I’m going to switch to the Performancing plug-in for a month or so and do a comparison.

  21. I had some kind of weird Java problem earlier this week and could get Qumana to work again. So I looked into other Destop Blog editors and I almost can say I downloaded them all.

    And I must say, that I was comparing them all with Qumana… W.Bloggar I didn’t even get to work and all the other ones seem miss one or two functions Qumana has.

    So I concentrated to get Q running again … it does now and I am very happy and will never ever think about fooling around with an other editor. Unless there is something better out there ;)

  22. Ecto for the PC was unsatisfactory several months back, I need tio give it another try. Performancing would be a really slick tool if it had spell checking … it is a good idea though to use the Google Toolbar with it … the central point of control for blogs and backup copies are important.

    Why or why, though, with all the talent thrown into making thousands of plugs and other useful tools, isn’t there a simple “Blog from Word” plug-in like Google gives away to Blogger users? In spite of the Open Source moaners and groaners out there, I earn my living with Word as do hundreds of thousands of people the world over … if I can blog a document direct into Blogger why not a WordPress blog.

    I’m hoping perhaps Writely may work for me, but I still have no account. They sent a ‘teaser’ email just a few days ago telling me they are working on the waiting list … which apparently is still very long.

  23. Hmm … it certainly pays to peruse Problogger. I wasn’t aware that Post2Blog had a full-featured MS Word plug-in. Giving it a try now, thanks all.

  24. […] Desktop Blog Editors Darren Rowse had a look at a poll that LifeHacker had up recently about desktop blog editing tools. […]

  25. ok! just had a play with Ecto and I love it! thankyou so much for mentioning it. It has the features I have been looking for. ability to edit posts, a good WYSIWYG handler and image uploading. I also love the built in tag manager. I am going to play with some of the templating features but I can’t believe how smoothly my first post went with it.

    Journaler is a great piece of software if you are after something to manage lots of different files, it’s a great manager piece of software but It isn’t that great for blogging if you want image functionality. still too many steps. I can see taking ecto much further.

    $18 seems quite reasonable as well.

  26. Well there’s one of the shortest review cycles on record. Downloaded, installed in Word, posted a test post, deleted from my machine. No need to go into details, Post2Blog is just not ready for production work at all, IMO

  27. For me, BlogDesk is THE tool. I tried w.bloggar, Qumana and others, none of which convinced me. Currently I’m playing around with flock and the Firefox extension Performancing, but it still feels like I like BlogDesk best because of its image editing and aligning features. Good support on the forum, too.

  28. After your review I downloaded ecto for my WordPress site and in only a few days I have really fallen in love with desktop publishing. Thanks for this post.

  29. it’s a pleasure Shawn. Glad you’re enjoying it as much as I am.

  30. I love ecto. I tried it reluctantly because I was having trouble easily integrating Technorati tags into Movable Type. I bought it because it offered SO much more than just easy tag integration. In fact, I’m quite addicted to all the little features now, and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what they can do for me. I also love the customer support forums–each time I’ve had a problem I’ve found the answer there, already answered and easy to locate.

  31. Joanna says: 08/12/2006 at 4:38 pm

    Potential blogger here, gearing up. Forgive the ignorance, but what is the difference between WordPress and a desktop editor?

    I was looking at WordPress, and wanted to begin using it–you know, a dry run before actually setting up my blog. I thought I would establish my blog locally, play with it and make mistakes before going live–this doesn’t seem possible though because it looks like WordPress needs to be set up on the host server–am I missing something?

    Why would someone want to use a desktop editor AND WordPress?



  32. […] I’m a Mac guy so it’s not something I can give you any recommendations on but it’s a blogging tool (in a similar class to other desktop blog editors) with most of the features that I’ve seen in other editor including WYSIWYG authoring, photo publishing, map publishing etc. It’s compatible with most main blogging platforms. Keep in mind it’s still in beta. […]

  33. […] Actually Windows Live Writer is not the only blogging client software out there. There are many other software as highlighted by Darren Rowse in his post early this month. The bad news it that there is no software that dominates the blogging software market. That makes it more difficult for us to choose the right software. […]

  34. […] I have been checking out different desktop blog editors to try and streamline my different blogs and posting. I like something with tags integrated and image uploading included. I am currently testing Qumana. which is quite interesting so far. I have also tried ecto and journaler so far. Problogger has really helped me find different utilities. Testing the different products is interesting. I take my blogging quite seriously so it is important to get the right system for my needs. […]

  35. […] Problogger has really helped me find different utilities. Testing the different products is interesting. I take my blogging quite seriously so it is important to get the right system for my needs. […]

  36. […] Introduction to Desktop Blog Editors (tags: blogging editors freeware) […]

  37. […] Introduction to Desktop Blog Editors (tags: blogging editors freeware) […]

  38. […] PayPerPost took the Honor of buying part of performancing and thus Nick Wilson had to rename the most used blogging editor (survey done by Problogger.net) to ScribeFire from Performancing for Firefox. Nick Wilson (the founder of Performancing) has already mentioned this in his personal blog that it is not the full performancing which will be sold, only some part of it is sold to Payperpost. […]

  39. […] ScribeFire is the new name for Performancing (Performancing for Firefox) after the Performancing got acquired (but not completely), which has been declared as most used blogging editor. […]

  40. I utilize Thingamablog on the desktop. Nothing beats the flexibility of managing multiple blogs from anywhere via a USB stick. Am looking at BlogDesk and ScribeFire as well.

  41. […] I was using Performancing for Firefox all this while, but wanted a change and also a tool which doesn’t run in the browser but is a standalone application. My biggest grudge was that I wasn’t able to keep Performancing open and also browse at the same time. I had to keep two Firefox windows open to do this. If there is some plugin which can help me run Performancing as a Pop-Out from FF, that would be great. So, I started trying out different desktop blog editors and it started with a look at what problogger recommended. […]

  42. Kename says: 04/03/2007 at 8:47 pm

    “Why would someone want to use a desktop editor AND WordPress?’

    WordPress is just the software on your server to manage the blog posts. It happens to have a very nice built-in editor. The problem is, you have to be online to use it [usually]. Enter the offline, desktop editors which allow you in many cases to create, edit, save, backup, post and repost your …um… posts. :)

    Thus even when I’m on the road, I can write up posts and when I hit a WiFi spot or home, it’s all posted to the blog without a care or concern [usually].

    [Usually] = Your mileage may vary as with anything involving different platforms, setups and users. :)

  43. Darren,

    I know you wrote this a year ago but I am in the same situation writing 20 blogs and performancing is great for WRITING to multiple blogs but it does not manage them what so ever. Do you know of a program that will show me when I last posted to a certain site…maybe a summary etc…a REAL manager for multiple blogs and sites.


  44. […] für beide Gattungen (Bloggen aus Browser, Bloggen in Anwendung) noch weitere Beispiele, die sich im Internet finden […]

  45. Thanks! I’ve been looking for Mac compatible clients for some time. I used WLW and loved it on PC…but switching to Mac I really missed it. I’m going to check the Mac ones you’ve linked to.

  46. […] achieves? well you can get answers to all your questions over at this nicely written blog “Introduction to Desktop Blog Editors” at […]

  47. I personally like MarsEdit, and do all my posting from it. When I’m on a PC, I like using Flock’s blog editor, its built-in to a great web browser. :) The WordPress administration gets a little boring, even with those extra WP-Admin themes. Desktop Blog Editors are the best!

  48. …the idea of blogging while not connected, wow! but i don’t think i want to shell out $18. I’ll use the ff extension for now. Lesson 9.

  49. I’m new at blogging and I’m researching every topic that deals with blogging including looking for a feed reader and a desktop editor. I’m having problems using “ecto” with my Mac, and I’m trying out MarsEdit. I’m not opposed to paying for an editor if I can understand how it works.

  50. Thanks to all of you for giving your insights and experience with these. Being a blog noob myself this thread taught me a lot. I’ll go download an editor now.

    Thanks again!

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