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Offline Blog Editor?

I just started writing a blog.  I am not a blogger nor do I intend to be.  But, I do write Race Reports for a few of my key Ironman races each season.  My current process for writing race reports is cumbersome.  I create the report in MS Word until I get all the content in and organized the way I want it.  Then, I copy and paste it into the Atlanta Triathlon Club forum where I edit it for format and pictures and get it the way I want it to look.  This is not ideal.  First, it is time consuming and duplicates a lot of effort.  Second, the local copy and the online copy eventually become very different and out of sync and I use to local copy to publish or send to other places – usually in PDF format).  Third, the look and feel dont really turn out the way I want and Finally, all my reports are unorganized and kind of all over the place.

Paul IM New Zealand Finish Chute

So, I figured I would start using a blog for my race reports.  Seems like everybody is using one, so it seemed to be the way to go.  I also wanted to use an offline blog editor for several reasons

1.) Offline Editing.  I wanted to be able to edit while not online and not dependent on an internet connection.  This was very apparent when flying Air New Zealand since they do not have any Wi Fi on any flights and I was in the air for about 17 hours on the way home from New Zealand.

2.) Saving Drafts and preview before publishing.  It takes me a while to write a race report and I want to edit it and preview it multiple times before I publish it.  My initial blog was on blogspot since I had one from my google account I didn’t even know about.  Doesnt seem like ou can edit and save without publish.  In wordpress you can edit and save before publishing but you still need tool for offline editing.

3.) One post multiple publish sites.  My idea was that I would write my report once – including all formatting – and then just publish it to any blog site or forum that I wanted it to be.  AT a minimum my blog, and the Atlanta Triathlon Club forum.  I was hoping to write once, publish many.

So I figured with a blog and an offline editor, I would get what I needed for my race reports and they would be all neat and organized in one place.  I could write them once and not fiddle with them every place I wanted to publish them.  In addition, I could post other things if I wanted (like this document).

I use a MAC.  So, I did some google searches for MAC offline blog editing tools.  (NOTE: I do have parallels on my MAC for some of my software development tools that only run in windows, but I prefer native MAC apps for sure).   The highest rated ones that I found were MarsEdit, eCT and Desk.  They are all paid for apps, but MarsEdit and eCT had free trials .  I could not get MarsEdit nor eCT to work with my blogspot blog at all.  There was one more I downloaded but when I went to install it, it wanted me to install a Java 6.0 to get it to work so I just cancelled out of it – I realize that isnt a big deal, but I didnt want it.

So I tried the ones I downloaded.  Marsedit would just error out when trying to post anything with a picture in it.  eCT would not allow me to post anything with a picture either due to some flickr authorization thing.  I spend a couple hours fiddling with these and trying to get help but had no luck.  I probably could have found a solution eventually but I needed something that was simpler that I did not have to spend a lot of time just trying to get it to work.  Given it was that much effort and it still wouldn’t publish, I decided those two products were not worth the headaches – if something so simple didn’t just “work” I am certain I would encounter other, more unreasonable issues.  I was unable to get tech support for either.

So, in one last effort, I tried Desk that I had to get from the app store – I will now be applying for a refund.   Desk seemed to work right away and was easy to use.  But after using for editing my New Zealand Race Report, I found that it basically corrupted my document.  It went a little crazy.  It took chunks of my document – text and pictures – and just made copies of that chunk into a bunch of different places within my post – i.e. it wrecked it. Luckily I noticed it fairly quickly, but it took me an hour or so to fix.   Also, it messed up HTML tags.  So, I cleaned my post up and edited it completely on blogspot site online.  It still has some HTML errors but I don’t know how to find and fix them – it does not show me where specifically the errors are.

So, I gave up on MAC offline blog editors.

While searching, I consistently found rave reviews about Microsoft Live Writer.  It is free from Microsoft but only runs on windows.  I installed it in my Parallels VM and started to use it.  It works.  I integrated it with BlogSpot and WordPress and was able to retrieve and publish to both.  For now, it does not seem to mess up HTML – the first time you access or publish to a blog, it reads the theme from that blog and uses it for those blog posts.  When you switch blogs, it automatically switches the theme of your document to match your blog.  Its nice but not perfect.  I still find some – very minor – things that need tweaking but for the most part, I write once, publish many and it is working – for now.  I will follow up later in this doc if it stops so as not to mislead people.    One of my posts had a ton of messed up HTML (put in there by eCT, desk or Marsedit) that was showing on the end.  Live Writer “sort of” exposed it and I was able to delete that bad HTML from the document (in the online wordpress editor).  What happened was Live Writer sent the doc to wordpress and the doc on wordpress showed all that bad HTML as text on the doc itself so it was easy to find and delete.

Happy Training