I’ve been searching for an easier way to edit my blog articles and I believe I found it, right in my own backyard, so to speak. I’ve been on this quest for a couple of weeks now and created blogs on some of the more popular free blogging sites all in an attempt to make writing articles easier. That’s been a main reason why I don’t have more articles – takes too much time to fiddle with the HTML.
My criteria was that the blog editor should have an easy way to include images, Flash SWFs, and source code snippets. Blogs came about because of computers and the internet and people have been blogging about source code since day one. So what’s the big issue with including source code? Yeah, it needs HTML tags, but why should I have to do that? I was using a WYSIWYG editor in 1984 on my original Mac.
However, it seems to be a huge challenge. Well, once I got the style set for the <pre> tag which surrounds the source code, I moved to the next hurdle: SWFs. Most of the public blogs let you include images and upload them to the same blog server. Your blog account has a limited amount of space, but that’s understandable. But SWFs, that’s another story. Come on, they’re moving images. They do require the use of an <embed> tag and that seems to be the crux of the problem. Some blog hosts just strip it out. Other blog hosts will allow the tags but you have to store the SWF someplace else. In both cases, a hassle for me.
I tried some third party blog editors which you can download and run on your computer. Like Contribute, they offer local editing and draft storage and then upload the finished article to the blog host. But there was always a gotcha in there. In one there wasn’t a way to easily insert source code or SWFs without turning to the HTML editor. No improvement for me there. In another there was a problem connecting to the blog host; nice tools (no SWFs either), but without a reliable connection it wouldn’t work.
I finally decided to try Contribute CS3. It connected right away to all of the blog servers I had set up. I could easily edit articles and create new ones. Adding in headings and source code was pretty easy, too. I can also drag and drop images and SWFs right onto the page. The problem then was uploading the SWFs. Only my current blog host at weblogs.macromedia.com (and the sister site, blogs.adobe.com) let me store the SWFs along with images and zip files.
In the end, I’m still on the same blog server, using a product Adobe makes. I’m pretty happy with this arrangement and I hope it fosters some more creativity.