Seeking an offline editor for WordPress (for OS X Lion).

With a need to write up additional notes on several projects, I’ve decided to search out some options for offline writing which could later be uploaded into WordPress.  Copy/paste is ok for occasional notes, but I’d much prefer a more robust solution.  I already have apps which do plain text which can be used to copy/paste a simple note into the WordPress web interface.  What I’d like is an offline app to do more advanced formatting, so blog posts look more like structured articles rather and less like random blobs of text.

Since I spend a lot of time working in Xcode, it needs to be a Mac desktop application.

Results of testing WordPress posts from some apps I already have:

  • Apple Pages – no export to HTML. No easy way to post to WordPress.  Leaves me back at the copy/paste situation.  I have previously posted content from Pages documents.  While it wasn’t as bad as a root canal, it required enough format re-jiggling to make it impractical for everyday blogging needs.
  • Apple iBooks Author – great application, but no export to HTML and only publishes to iBook store.
  • Apple Keynote – similar situation to Pages. Requires using copy/paste and re-working the results to appear correctly.
  • Seamonkey (a mozilla based editor) – this is the successor to the old Netscape Suite, and one of the components of the suite is Composer.  Composer is the only component of the Seamonkey suite that I use, so I’ve configured the settings to always open a new Composer document.  It’s a decent little HTML editor.  The “publish” options seem to accept the recommended settings for WordPress.  Composer’s publish operation shows a successful WordPress login and completion status; however, something doesn’t match up because the results never appear anywhere in my WordPress account.  In any event, Seamonkey’s publish feature is designed for updating specific webpages, so I’ll continue looking at other apps for a better solution.

Results of some apps found listed on WordPress:

  • Scribefire – mentioned on a blog entry about about WordPress editors.  It’s a browser plugin.  Versions are available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.  First things I noticed were mostly bad reviews and an extreme lack of documentation. I tested the Firefox version, and didn’t care for it.  It wasn’t clear where the draft posts were being stored, but the dialogs in the “export” option seemed to confirm work was not being saved in a document format that could be accessed without this plug in.  That doesn’t work for me.
  • Blogo – Website states Blogo won’t run on OS X Lion.  Reading their blog from July 2011 showed they weren’t even going to try updating for Lion.  Movin’ on.
  • Ecto – Website indicates “illumineX” bought the app from it’s developer in 2008.  Website seems to have been neglected since then.  A described iPhone app never materialized (was a pre-IOS app if it existed at all).  Their support forums shows a SQL crash error code and looks like it’s been neglected since 2007.  Despite all of this, I decided to download their trial version and take a look.  Download was a 5.9MB ZIP file containing a 12.4MB app file dated April 15, 2010.  Surprisingly the app launched, ran just fine, and was able to log in and download my previous WordPress posts.  After editing a draft via the web interface, Ecto detected and showed the difference between the local offline copy and the server copy.  Everything seemed to going quite well, I created a blog entry from the app and was able to adjust categories, tags, and other attributes.  But attempting to publish the post resulted in an error and a loss of all of the edits made in the app (despite enabling an autosave feature).  Showed promise, but not worth troubleshooting given the apparent lack of activity with the company.  And we’re walking…
  • MarsEdit – a $40 app available from developer’s website, or on the Mac app store. Website is up to date, shows plenty of activity, and developer’s blog shows he is working on learning/adopting Apple’s new app guidelines for the Mac App Store.  I downloaded the trial version from website.  Currently version 3.4.4 with a 6.6MB zip file containing a 15.2MB app file dated March 9, 2012.  First (simple) tests worked well.  MarsEdit finds existing posts from the blog, edits new ones, uploads to Publish or Draft, and saves offline copy in a Library folder than can be read with other tools if need be. Testing more advanced work such as text formats and image layout didn’t work so well.  It was easy enough to paste an image into the editor, but there wasn’t any way to adjust the image properties.  Additionally, the editor showed options for laying out the text around the image, but it didn’t work.  There were problems within the editor, and the layout was ignored when uploaded to WordPress.  Conclusion, MarsEdit would be great for “syncing” plain text notes into blog posts… but not at $40.  Unfortunately I don’t see $40 worth of editor/layout features in this app.

I’ll keep looking for an offline editor to use with WordPress.  But, in the meanwhile, it looks like I’ll stick with using Pages, Keynote, or Notes to write things up offline and then use copy/paste to post later.

For now it appears anything more than plain text will continue to require using the web interface to make adjustments prior to publishing a post.  I suspect the long term solution will be to get more familiar the WordPress HTML options and investigate whether some Themes are easier to work with than others.

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