I have been, for long, a very happy tenant in the Linux world. I am not a Microsoft Basher but I prefer Linux to Windows anytime. For some years , I have been using Linux almost exclusively and have had no regrets – Well , so far.
As a recent entrant to the blogosphere, I am in strange situation where a tool in Windows is superior to those that exist in Linux (Shudder !!) . Yes, I am talking about Blog editors in Linux. A simple Google search convinces me that I am not the only person feeling that way.
Here is the context. I recently started a blog in WordPress and started to hunt for a good blog editor in Ubuntu (My findings apply to whole of Linux as well). I was shocked to find that even though there are many blog editors , many of them were reasonably good, none of them were as good as Microsoft’s Microsoft Windows Live Writer (WLW , for short).
Let me talk about the current blog editors in Ubuntu.
The best editor I could find is Blogilo (was Bilbo). It has lot of pros. It supports lot of targets (Blogger,Wordpress etc) . It has a decent WYSIWYG editor and has some basic support to set categories and other frills. My favorite feature is its integration with KWallet. But unfortunately , I am a GNOME fan which meant , I had to install all the KDE dependencies if I wanted to use it in GNOME.
Even though it works pretty well as a decent editor, I miss a lot of features. For eg the fact that I have to refresh every time to get any changes I made in my blog is crazy. (for eg if I added a new post/category via other means, it doesn’t show up automatically). It also does not support tags. But I think the biggest problem is that, while its preview is good, it is not as good as possible (for eg preview in WLW looks almost like the final result ). I have to admit that this would have been my preferred tool if I had not found MLW.
This is another decent blog editor. It is written in Python and it has a reasonable set of features. I wasn’t very comfortable with the UI and felt constrained by it.
Another decent blog editor although it looks like its development has stopped altogether (in 2006 !!) . I liked its simplistic UI , although its feature set is limited.
There are other suggestions like using Flock but still I am pretty much dissatisfied with them.
I think at the current scenario, the undisputed king (or queen) of blog editors in WLW.
It has an intuitive UI, excellent support for all the popular blogging platforms, good collection of plugins and best of all its free. The feature that I really liked is its preview which is almost authentic . WLW used all the images, css etc of my blog to give a fantastic preview. Kudos to the WLW team for that feature. It also uses the API’s of individual blogging platforms which is pretty sweet , (especially considering that this is Microsoft that we are talking about😉 ) .
Infact, I am writing this post using MLW using Windows 7 in VirtualBox. I had installed Win7 in Virtualbox to play around with it. But I have to admit , I really did not expect to use it to write my blogs in Win7 🙂 . Yes, I did try to install WLW using Wine but it would not even install. There were a couple of bugs filed for it although I don’t see any momentum.
Back to my rants , I dont see why there are no concerted effort from opensource to produce a high quality blog editor. The worst thing is that it is not even considered as high (ok atleast medium ? ) priority issue. Looks like some people have raised this issue in the Ubuntu Brainstorm but it is marked as implemented just because some half baked tools already exist. Grrr…. Its quite heartening to see Bloglio and KBlogger teaming up. I hope their effort produces a better editor. I am also baffled that Google has not produced a top notch tool in this space. It would definitely be a good way to get some more mind share.
One commenter in the Ubuntu Brainstorm idea page summed up my feelings nicely . “Allowing Microsoft free reign in this important niche market (important because it directly influences content makers and publishers) is terribly short-sighted. WLW is today more important than Outlook used to be a few years back”.
Exactly my point !! I only hope some better tools will emerge in 2010 !!