September 22, 2003

The Great Blog Client Roundup

Tired of your blog's default entry method? There's a great assortment of Blogging Clients for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and more, just waiting to be downloaded. What's a "blog client"? It's a program that lets you create, edit, format, and post blog entries remotely, without having to use your blog's normal interface. In some cases they give you additional and easier HTML formatting tools, to take some of the drudgery out of blog posting and generate more professional-looking results.

Many clients support a range of blogging systems and are freeware or open source. However, just as many are pre-1.0 version betas, which usually means that not all desired features are fully implemented and/or stable yet. Even so, they can make blogging easier. Read on to find a suitable client for you.

There's usually one main prerequisite of your blogging system: You'll find that many blog clients work through the Blogger API (a/k/a "XML-RPC"), which the de facto standard for remote blog access. Blogger, Movable Type, and TypePad are good examples of blogs supporting this, but I've read numerous reports that Blogger's system is having many problems in this regard.

Before I list them, there's one main problem most Movable Type bloggers have with these clients: When attempting to save a post with "draft" status, Movable Type's default "publish" behavior overrides this status and publishes it anyway -- thus serving the wine before its time. That's a problem for bloggers who like to upload their blog entries in advance for later editing and publishing.

The best answer is to set all of your MT default post preferences to "Draft" (both in the MT control panel and in any blogging client) and you must add the following line to the MT.CFG file: NoPublishMeansDraft 1 This may not work for all blog clients, but I've found it works for some, like w.Bloggar and Zempt, as long as you pay close attention to the "post status" setting before you submit it. You'll also want to verify the operating system requirements and blog software supported before installing any of them.

Without further ado, here's a list of blogging clients I've found. It's still a nascent software category and I don't claim it's a complete list. However, I verified that each site was there and had software available to download:

For Windows:

For Mac OS X:
For Linux:

The LawTech Guru's Experience:

As you can tell from my blog, I use Movable Type (MT). For Windows, I felt that BlogBuddy just didn't add much functionality beyond MT's own online interface. However, it was much more difficult to pick a clear winner between w.Bloggar and Zempt.

w.Bloggar's interface is clean, polished, and allows me to add numerous custom HTML tag sets. w.Bloggar amply tries to be all things to all bloggers, and comes very close. However, while it supports MT's Main Entry and Extended Entry fields (the latter supported indirectly by inserting the <more_text> tag around the extended text), it lacks support for other MT features I need.

That's where Zempt comes in. Zempt allows me to remotely enter text in the Main Entry, Extended Entry, Excerpt, and Keyword fields, and even lets me specify multiple categories per post -- something that many other blog clients can't do. Since I make extensive use of multiple categories and these extra fields, this is a big plus for me. Zempt's interface is not as polished as w.Bloggar, nor does it give me even half of w.Bloggar's convenient HTML editing features. For instance, when Zempt is set to display all of the MT entry fields, it becomes very cramped to enter text on the screen. Turning off a few fields gives me some much-needed working room, and I can then toggle the additional fields when needed. It's a little clunky, but it works.

So while Zempt is more dedicated for MT posting, w.Bloggar is the more robust and ergonomic formatting tool. As such, I find myself using w.Bloggar for more complex posts with subsequent multiple-category and excerpt field touch-up in MT. In contrast, Zempt is great for the simple posts as it give me access to better MT field and category support.

As I said, this is a budding software category, and none of the Windows and Palm clients I've tried have met all of my needs. As blogging grows in popularity, I expect we'll see even more competition and more robust blogging clients. But for now, these tools are definitely worth trying, and the price of admission is irresistable.

Topic(s):   Blogging Tips
Posted by Jeff Beard

Check out BlogPlanet, also a blog client for J2ME enabled mobile phones. Even supports photo blogging on selected devices.

Posted by: Dennis Luemkemann at October 27, 2003 11:14 AM