SOFTWARE TOOLBOX

New Blogware Spans Simple to Sublime

Although Web logs, or blogs, have attracted a lot of ink and electrons, the keys totheir creation and upkeep remain a mystery to many Net surfers. That’s not to say that there aren’t minds at work in the electronic plasma ruminating on ways to encourage even the meekest Websters to try their hand at blogging.

For instance, the folks at Blogger.com, which is owned by Google, recently released Blogger for Word, a free plug-in for Microsoft’s word cruncher that allows aspiring Web loggers to post to their blogs directly from inside Bill Gates’ favorite word processor. Before you start using B4W, though, you need to set up a free account at Blogger.com.

After installing B4W, the next time you open up Microsoft Word, you’ll see a new toolbar with some new buttons added to the program.

Easy Buttons

One of the buttons, Blogger Settings, is where you store information such as the name of your blog or blogs, user name and password.

Once you provide the applet with that information, you can start composing your posting in Word. Text features like fonts, italic and underlining will be preserved. And so will the links you insert into the document.

When you’re ready to send your posting to your blog, simply click the publish button and away it goes. Alternatively, if you want to send the post to your blog, but do further work on it there, you can click the “Save as Draft” button.

B4W is a good idea because it allows novice bloggers to make postings from within the comfortable confines of an application they’re intimate with — their word processor.

For more sophisticated bloggers, though, the applet can be a bit problematic. If you’ve ever saved a Word document as a Web page, you’ll get my drift. The parser that turns the document into HTML creates some of the most bloated and convoluted code you’ll find anywhere. That can be a hassle if you have a custom template for your blog. If that’s the case, you’ll likely need to edit posts created in Word before publishing them.

Rocketpost

Savvy bloggers will appreciate a new program from Anconia Software that will give them a blog management system. The US$149 application, Rocketpost, supports all the popular hosts — Blogger, Moveable Type and Word Press — as well as plain old FTP.

As with B4W, you get WYSIWYG editing, but you can edit the HTML under it, too.

The program allows you to download all the postings from your blogs, store them on your computer and manage them locally.

It also supports publishing a single posting to multiple blogs.

Easy Image Uploads

Pictures can be troublesome for bloggers. When I include a picture with a posting, it involves uploading the image to my web space on the Internet and creating a hyperlink to it with some manual coding.

Rocketpost does that work for you. From within its editor, you can insert a photo from your hard drive into your posting. After formatting your text around the image, you can simply click Post and everything will be uploaded to you blog automatically — including the image.

The program is full of little extras to make a blogger’s experience easier.

Robust Application

It has a spell checker and word counter.

It lets you quickly turn highlighted text into a hyperlink with its Quick Link feature.

A “super clipboard” is included with the application. As you cut items in the program, they’re saved to the super clipboard. That can come in handy for stashing bits of code or an item you might use repeatedly in a post, such as someone’s last name.

While Rocketpost is clearly aimed at robust bloggers, tyros may find some of its features enticing. They can get a taste of the program by downloadingfrom Anconia’s Web site a free version of the application that supports only one blog on Blogger.com.


John Mello is a freelance business and technology writer who can be reached at [email protected].


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