I like to write blog posts. What I don't like is: (1) Losing part (or all) of my brilliant musings when a word processor crashes, or the Compose Post screen of a blog hosting service decides to do something weird.
(2) Wasting time on formatting a post because the above-mentioned Compose Post editor is based on buttons that must be clicked to italicize, boldface, underline, or whatever, instead of using keystroke controls like word processors do.
A couple of days ago I decided to help get the economy back on track, and also soothe my financial crisis'ed soul, by purchasing a freshly redesigned MacBook.
I love it so much, I can't count all the ways in this post. So that'll have to wait for another day.
One of the few worries I've had about my new Macintosh relationship is the effect it'll have on my blogging. I've been writing posts in Word 2007 on a PC with Windows XP.
There's a lot not to like about Word 2007 -- such as the new and not-improved menu system -- but one feature is marvelous. You can write fully formatted blog posts in it, then publish them with a single click (either as a draft or "live").
The only down side has been how buggy the blogging feature has been on my computer. I haven't had problems with normal word processing. Only with blog posts does Word 2007 crash, which happens with distressing regularity.
Sometimes even after I've clicked "save," but before the saving.
So I've learned to copy into memory what I've written before I save a post, just in case Word decides this would be a good time to test my Buddha-nature by losing my carefully crafted prose. (To its credit, Word 2007 has a generally reliable crash recovery feature; that's good, considering how often I've needed it.)
The Macintosh version of Word doesn't offer this blogging feature, I'm pretty sure. Anyway, Office 2008 for the Mac has gotten such atrocious reviews, I decided to skip it and go with Apple's iWork suite.
Good move, but now I was stuck with using TypePad's Compose Editor on my new MacBook. I gave it a try last night and found it frustrating for reason (2) above. It took me much longer to write a post that way, compared to using a real word processor.
That led me to Google and a further search for some way to easily write and publish formatted blog posts. I'd already learned about the usual Macintosh suspects in this area: MarsEdit, Ecto, Qumana, and a few others.
I'm sure they're good programs. And I resonated with the opening MarsEdit sales pitch:
Browser-based interfaces are slow, clumsy, and require you to be online to use them. While your blog's web interface struggles to perform the simplest of tasks, MarsEdit uses the power of your Mac to provide an amazing blog editing experience.
Well, right now I'm online using Google Docs to write this post. I don't see that as a big downside, since I need to be online to publish to my blog and with DSL there's no penalty to being connected to the Internet (admittedly, with dial-up there usually is).
On the plus side...
-- Google Docs is free.
-- It's basically a scaled down Word, with undo and redo, plus all the other features I normally use in blogging (italics, boldface, quotation indent, insert URL, spell check, and such).
-- It saves the document automatically, and often. Nice. I've had zero glitches while writing this fairly lengthy post, but it's good to know that I wouldn't lose much if a problem occurred.
-- Publishing to a blog with Google Docs is easy (caveat below). Here's how you do it.
I ran into the caveat because TypePad, the blog service I use, isn't one of those on the Google Docs drop-down list. However, after I contacted TypePad support I learned the secret to making Google Docs work for me.
All another TypePad user has to do is substitute their personal info in the "Existing Blog Settings" boxes. If you have more than one blog with TypePad, be sure to include the exact name of your blog you're posting to.
Like life, the Google Docs way of blog posting isn't perfect. So far as I know, there's no way to publish a draft. Thumbnailed photos and HTML code (needed for a YouTube video embed, for example) need to be inserted after the post is published.
That's no big deal, if you attend to it right away to avoid making your readers wonder where the stuff is that you mention in the post. And a category also has to be inserted via a visit to TypePad.
On the whole, though, I'm happy with Google Docs. It's much easier to write a post with it than to fumble my way through TypePad's Compose Editor. The line spacing between paragraphs is a bit larger than it was in Word, but maybe there's a way to fiddle with this. [Update: well, maybe not.] Again, no big deal.
So bloggers, give it a try. I bet you'll like it as much as I do.