Time out from drawing to test MarsEdit. This desktop blogging software ought to save time and make drafting WordPress posts easier. (It can also be used with many other blogging sites).
In this post, I will attempt to upload images and produce some links to MarsEdit information and then go online and comment on how well it worked and decide whether or not to buy it. There is a free 30 day download and then it costs around 30 euros to purchase. Updates also cost so it will have to prove itself!
Advantages of MarsEdit:
- it sits on the desktop and drafts can be added to easily as thoughts arise & time allows.
- easy upload from iPhoto, Pictures folder etc. AND size of images can be adjusted – will be testing this in this post!
- you can adjust the preview template to match the blog template; also typing window and blog template can sit side-by-side while you type so that you can actually see what the blog page looks like while you draft it.
- it is less likely to crash than a web browser.
- It is much more intuitive than a browser interface.
- Saving drafts is quicker – the “save draft” button is just above your text not down the bottom of the page as in WordPress online.
- On the MarsEdit menu go to “Install Bookmarklet” to add a button to your Safari toolbar that will allow you to grab links / content from the web and save it to a MarsEdit draft for later posting. See screenshot below:
These are the things that appeal straightaway – others will appear with use.
Adjusting the Preview Template: I followed the instructions at this link:
but there were a few hiccups, probably because I had not done this before and there is a lot of code! Once you have written a draft, these are basic steps in outline for adjusting the preview template so that it looks like your blog:
- Open a page of your blog in Safari.
- Click on the title to get the single page view.
- Go to the Safari View menu and scroll down to “View Source”.
- Highlight and copy the source code. (Click Preview on the draft toolbar. When it opens, click Edit Template at the bottom of the window.)
- Highlight and delete the code in the Preview Template and replace it with the Safari source code from your blog.
- Now the fun begins… you will see your published blog page in the Preview window. You will now change the template one step at a time until the text, title and tags match your draft text. All you are doing is altering a template by replacing details that are specific to one blog page with general placeholders that link to the title, content etc. in your current and future drafts. As you make changes, if they are the right ones, you will see them appear in the Preview window. If your changes do nothing, press “Discard Changes” at the bottom of the template and try again.
- Change the content by searching for the first word of the text on your published blog page. Highlight and then scroll down until the last word of the text. Click “Placeholder –> Body” and the content in the Preview window should become your draft text.
- Now change the title in a similar way. Search for “title”, highlight the title and replace with the Placeholder –> Title”. If this doesn’t work straightway, change all relevant titles throughout the code until you get a result.
- Follow the same process for the Tags and Categories.
My experience: Changing the body (main content) was straightforward but changing the title was more challenging and nothing happened until I changed it about half way through the code at a point separated by these symbols: <h1> your title <h1> ; highlight your title and change to the Placeholder –> Title.
The tags also required a bit of chasing through the code but were easier than the title, probably because I was getting the hang of it by then. Categories still defeat me. I found the part of the code that corresponds to the category of the post and deleted it successfully but replacing it with the categories Placeholder had no effect so the choice was between no categories or the wrong one(s). I have elected to delete the category from the Preview window to remind me that I need to add one!
Remember, you are only altering a template so that it resembles a future post but it is not the post! It is only a tool to help you see what your post will look like.
You control the content, tags etc. in the drafting window, which is what will ultimately be published. If you are unable to change, say, the tags in the preview template, you will continue to see the old tags from the published page that you used to adjust the template; but these will not be published when you publish your new post (unless they happen to be the same tags that you have entered for that post!).
If you do anything drastic to the template, you have the choice of discarding changes and starting again or living with it as it is. You don’t need to have the Preview in order to post: it just serves to give you an idea of the final appearance. However, it is a very useful tool and probably one of the reasons that you would choose to use this application.
You can also alter the settings of MarsEdit so that you receive reminders about missing title, tags etc. before you post. (Go to the Window menu –> MarsEdit and then click on Posts under the relevant blog – see the Screenshot below).
Next step: click on the Posting menu to change settings:
Here is another link that might be useful:
Links are added through the Format button on the right hand side of the draft window toolbar. You can also customise the formatting, changing alignment etc. there.
Media (though not yet video) can be loaded through the Media button on the toolbar. Uploads are shown above the draft so you can keep track of what you have added.
Preferences can also be adjusted and include the option of changing the background while typing. This doesn’t affect the final blog post but does help with typing – pastel colours are more restful when typing than white IMHO. Font style and size etc. can also be changed under Preferences.
So that’s it: let’s see if it works!
PostScript: it works! I’m sold on it! The tags and category appeared. The text, links and images are exactly as they were on my desktop and I haven’t seen any problems in the post yet…. You can upload it as a draft and then publish online after viewing it “live” or you can publish it directly – you are given the option in the desktop draft window. I opted for the draft the first time around and am adding this postscript pre-publication. The main drawback was that it took me (a novice) some time to set it up but now that it is ready, it will save time and make it easier to keep the online learning log going more regularly because I will be able to develop it offline and add thoughts / reflections / images / links as and when they occur to me and I have time. Better buy it today!
Free trial at this link.