Make Blogging Easy with MarsEdit

Let’s face it many of us plan to blog way more than we do, at the very least it applies to me and this blog (well me and all the blogs I have). The original plan was to have something out each Tuesday but life, stuff, StarCraft II, seem to get the way. Since I started using MarsEdit I’ve been doing a bit better and I figured I’d review the software and tell you why it’s helping me.

The Why

As I said in my previous run down of my OSX Setup, I used to write all my blog posts in TextMate. At the time TextMate was simple and I already owned a copy it. I typically write my blog posts in HTML anyway so why would I need some other fancy blogging client?

So if TextMate was the cats ass why did I switch to a blogging specific software? I often found that with TextMate I’d start thinking about some of my development work and then start getting distracted by coding, when I should be blogging. Also since I never found the blogging bundles and set them up I always had to do a bunch of cut/paste to get the article onto the site.

Along Came MarsEdit

Then I found/remembered MarsEdit and figured I’d give it a try.

The Good

One of the features I love about MarsEdit is that it lets you pick if you write in HTML mode or WYSIWYG mode. I write HTML all day so I don’t have any trouble reading or writing it. I’m also picky about what my code looks like (I am a programmer) so having direct control over it is awesome.

When I’m doing the final read of a post I do like to just read it as the user would see the text. MarsEdit has an beautiful preview window. No clutter just your text black on a white background. It makes reading easy.

MarsEdit Preview Window
MarsEdit Preview Window

My fulltime job is to design and build WordPress sites so of course I run my blogs on WP and have to have a desktop editor that works with both WordPress and WordPress Multisite. MarsEdit does both with no extra configuration needed for Multisite installs. I’ll admit I’ve only tried it on domain mapped Multsite, so let me know if it’s any different for installs that are sub-directory or sub-domain.

MarsEdit lets you edit not only local documents but also the post and pages on your live site. It even saves them in the local draft on edit so you can make some changes on a few pages then publish them all at once (or nearly at once since it’s one after the other as fast as you can click). It did take me some time to find the menu item for creating a new page (seriously why isn’t it an option when you create a new post to just make it a page instead?) but it’s there down at the bottom of the main MarsEdit window. Yup that tiny plus is where you can add a page.

Room for Improvement

Like I said above I’m a WordPress based blogger and while I know that not every blog is powered by WordPress but if your blog is powered by something else your wrong. Seriously I’d love to see MarsEdit add support for featured images in WordPress. It’s been around for a few versions and it would be nice to see.

Probably one of the biggest things that annoys me about MarsEdit is the fact that you can’t eliminate local drafts by blog title. Like many people I have a few blogs kicking around and I write down ideas for posts in MarsEdit. Well all local drafts just go into one pane sure you can enable a new column with the blog title in it but I’d love to see folders under local drafts that represent each of your blogs. Lets just get some of the distraction of lots of drafts out of the way.

MarsEdit Post Drafts
MarsEdit Post Drafts

Yeah this is totally a bit whiny but isn’t doing a bit of public whining what blogging is really all about? MarsEdit imports all your categories (and lets you add new ones) from WordPress but it doesn’t have any knowledge of hierarchy. All categories are displayed as top level categories and when you add a new one you can’t designate it as a child category of anything. The fact that they are displayed as top level categories has no effect on how WordPress actually works though so just remember which ones are really children and you’re good to go.

Update: Check out the comments where Daniel fixes one of the minor issues I had with MarsEdit. Two last things that bug me just a bit are the fact that I can’t figure out how to set the defaults so that any new post is a draft and that trackbacks are off by default. Since I can’t set a featured image (or schedule publish date) I post the content as a draft then finish off those last two items. Unfortunately I need to remember to set the post status to ‘draft’ for each new post.

That’s It

Sure there are a few minor things in MarsEdit that bug me but overall switching over to a dedicated blogging application has helped me focus when writing so I’ve got way more writing done. It’s not perfect but it’s dang close. Update I seriously can’t say enough about the support provided by Red Sweater. See the comments for Daniel helping me with one of the minor issues I had with MarsEdit but also check out their forums and see how fast and quick Daniel is when answering questions from his users. This is what a software developer should be like.

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