I listed a set of features that I think I require for using off-line or desktop blogging tools. Here is my first round-up of test results, if nothing else is noted then these tools are Windows based. This first round will be focusing on free tools and if I can’t find what I am looking for then I will start checking the commercial tools.
I’ll summarise at the top so you don’t have to read the entire post if you don’t want to. The only two tools of the 9 that I have tested (10 with w.bloggar) that nearly meet my requirements are Zoundry and Lycos-Qumana both of these tools have the following problems for me: no support for <H4> tags which I use as subheadings and it doesn’t seem possible to create new categories from within the tools. These are minor problems to say the least, at the moment I am using Zoundry for posting but I think I am going to have to try out Lycos-Qumana some more.
A free Java based editor with big name backing (Lycos) this is easily the tool that I have the highest expectations for, download here. Auto configuration of blog settings means it is super easy to get started. Pinging, tagging and trackback support built in. Spell checker with instant underlining of misspelled words of you want that. It is easy to manage existing posts and drafts but I couldn’t find how to add new categories and there is no built in support for rmy <H4> headings. There is no custom preview with the sites style sheet but image uploading is supported. The user interface is not as intuitive as it could have been. Tested version 3.0
Zoundry is a free editor with an intuitive interface and easy access to draft and existing posts. Spell checking support, image upload, tagging, pinging, trackback style sheet preview, XHTML support and source view. Zoundry pretty much has it all although I have had difficulties getting trackbacks to work since you don’t get notified if they were accepted or not. My only problem with Zoundry is that I have to add my sub-heading formatting manually since I want to use <h4> and there is no support for that. There is also no support for creating new categories.
Bleezer is a free Java based so is available for multiple platforms. It’s a bit rough around the edges but was simple to configure for my dasBlog. It adds “Powered by Bleezer” to the end of posts. I don’t like being forced to support Bleezer with a link every time I post, it should be an option as it is in some other tools. There is basic text formatting support but the interaction between the editing pane, which is a plain multi-line textbox, and the preview was difficult to master. The spell checker doesn’t understand HTML formatting so has all sorts of ideas about what I am trying to spell with my <h4> and <p>. Also the HTML editor has no contextual help or tag completion. There is basic category support but no support for creating new categories. There is support for pinging, tagging, uploading over ftp and previewing with a custom style sheet, but no trackback management. Downloading existing posts for editing should work but I couldn’t get it to play nicely with dasBlog. There is no list of unpublished local posts, you save them as files to disk and have to manage them manually so I feel that it will require quite a bit of manual work to use Bleezer for managing ongoing writing. All in all this looks like a promising tool but it has nowhere near the feature-set that I require for blogging. Tested version 0.9.5.6
The first thing that strikes me with blogBuddy is the clean and simple interface. Unfortunately it just makes me feel like all of the features that I am looking for are missing… Connecting to dasBlog was no problem, neither was getting existing posts and editing them. Again there is no list of ongoing work and I couldn’t find a way to save unfinished posts without posting them to my blog as unpublished work. Text editing and formatting is very basic through a textbox with HTML code support either from the tool (<B>, <I>, <U> and <A>). The spell checker and some other parts of the GUI returned developer errors. No preview, upload function, pinging, tagging, categories or trackback but it is free. Tested version 0.5
Initially this looks promising, while downloading BlogDesk I read through the feature set and it seemed to cover most of my requirements. Connecting to a blog is a breeze with the help of a wizard, there is even an option for dasBlog as the blog type which makes it easy. The connection wizard tests all the functionality too if you want: uploading, getting categories and so on. After the wizard has run you can go into a tabbed dialogue and change all the details. Editing is done in a WYSIWYG pane but can also be done in HTML so you can make sure that the tool hasn’t messed up your formatting. Unfortunately switching between normal (editing) mode, preview and source (HTML) is done through a menu so multiple clicks are required although there is a keyboard shortcut the interface doesn’t feel intuitive. Spell checking seems to work and there are options for additional languages and custom dictionaries. It appears that there is some kind of trackback support but I couldn’t figure it out and there is no mention of it in the included help file. Managing draft posts and existing posts was relatively simple although it required multiple clicks through a menu so switching between posts is not something that you do with a single click. New categories could be added through the blog configuration interface and using them was as simple as checking them in a list. Contextual menus everywhere made it simple to find the more advanced setup issues. Technorati tags are supported but no automatic pinging. This free tool contains many of the features that I am looking for but in the end it is not intuitive enough for me to use regularly and some of my main features are missing. Tested version 2.6
Another free Java based blog editor touted as a very simple Blog editor. It has the typical Java application feel which I personally don’t like at all. Unfortunately I couldn’t get it to connect to dasBlog at all. Tested version 0.7
Free Java based blog editor, JBlogEditor is a giant download (15,4 MB) which either means that it is really good or that it has loads of pointless features. The first thing that happens when I connect to my dasBlog is that the application crashes, a Java error log has been created so I can see that it is a real crash whether it is a fault in my configuration or caused by my previous Java editor test I don’t know (and don’t care). Simple switching between different drafts and published posts but that crash really puts me off the tool. There is no formatted editing mode, its just HTML editing with tool support and a preview pane. No tagging, pinging, trackback or uploading really means this is useless for me. Tested version 0.6
IMHO Instant Blogger is a sourceforge project so it is free and open source, there is also a plug-in architecture and a couple of formatting plug-ins available for download. Setting up my connection to dasBlog returned a developer exception caused by a missing http:// Once connected there are many features missing: creating categories, tagging, pinging, trackback management, editing existing posts. In addition I hate the user interface, there are no menus and you don’t know where to go to find functions that there are no buttons for. Tested version 1.3.2106
I couldn’t get this to work at all for dasBlog, the blog setup was so difficult to understand that I don’t know if it just doesn’t support dasBlog or if I didn’t get the configuration right. Tested version 2.4.3