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# Saturday, 08 July 2006

Well, I've finally settled on the software I'm going to use to write my blogs as well as read them.  I'm pretty picky about UI these days, and most of the software out there is just not that great when it comes to that.  But of course, I also need it to integrate and minimize the time it takes to set things up and the time I have to spend jacking with it on a regular basis. 

Authoring
For authoring, I've decided to go with WB Editor 2.5.1 by Yiyi Sun.  I like the UI.  It currently uses the webby L&F, which when done right has a pleasant, light feel to it.  One thing that immediately strikes me as nice is that when I save a post for the second time, unlike BlogJet, it just saves to the same file I saved before and doesn't prompt me to pick a new file and then, when I select the same file, ask me if it's okay to overwrite it.  That really bugged me about BlogJet.  With WB Editor 2.5.1, CTRL-S works just like you'd hope, although it does pop up a notification saying it was saved, which is a bit annoying but can be dismissed with a spacebar slap.  I'd prefer the notification be in the status bar, but it's still much better than BlogJet in terms of saving drafts.

Post Authoring 
Post Authoring with WB Editor 2.5.1

Note that the color is green; it comes with three theme (skin) options: Blue (default), Green, and Pink.  I've always had a penchant for green.  Note also that the coloring of the post itself is like my dotNetTemplar blog; you can set this up using the options by specifying styles.  It's kind of nice so that you get a better feel for what it looks like, but it would be helpful to 1) allow for a stylesheet per blog and 2) encapsulate the entire post in a div to better capture the L&F of a single entry on a blog site (not sure how this would work in the editor, though).

I also like how ridiculously easy it is to insert images and screen shots.  When you click the insert/upload image icon, it has a friendly dialog that lets you pick the image or even paste from the clipboard.  It offers the option to automatically create a thumbnail and upload them both either via FTP or to Flickr.  I haven't tried the Flickr option, but it works great with FTP.

Adding Images
Adding Images with WB Editor 2.5.1

The HTML itself is clean, too, and it has a nifty little snippet insert drop-down for common stuff.  This is important to me because I don't want my editor using any markup--I want to leave it to my style sheets.  And it seems to play well with that.  It also highlights nicely, and the highlighting colors are personalizable.

HTML Editor
HTML Editing with WB Editor 2.5.1

Being a sucker for good UI, I enjoy the main screen that shows your registered blogs.  Yiyi has gone to the trouble to get images for the major blog engines (needs to update .Text to CS), so you get that along with a screen shot of your blog, the URL, and the categories.  And yes, you can of course cross post to multiple blogs, which is one reason to use an editor like this.

 WB Editor Home
WB Editor 2.5.1 Home

One of the really nice things about WB Editor from a .NET developer's perspective is that it has a plug-in architecture (currently running on .NET 1.1). 

Plugins
WB Editor 2.5.1 Plugins

An important plug-in for devs is a code highlighter.  It may not be the nicest formatting, but it works.  If you don't like it, you could easily write a plug-in to use a formatter that you do like.

[Serializable]
[XmlRoot("links")]
public class NavigationRoot
{
    NavigationLinkCollection items = 
        new NavigationLinkCollection();
    [XmlElement("link")]
    public NavigationLinkCollection Items 
    { 
        get 
        { 
            return items; 
        } 
        set 
        { 
            items = value; 
        } 
    }
}

Another feature that I like about WB Editor is its roadmap, which promises to stay on top of the latest technologies from Microsoft, such as 2.0 and ClickOnce (coming in the next version) and ultimately .NET Framework 3.  It's a project that I could get excited about working on, and as you can see from the blog, it is actually being worked on.  Of course, it has other features that you can read about in its features list; I'm just highlighting the ones I think are cool.

So in short, it has everything that I'm looking for in a rich-client blog editor, and I'd recommend it over the much lauded BlogJet.  It is also competitive in pricing, currently at $19.99, which for a great piece of software like this is outstanding.

Reading
Now, I did mention at the beginning that I'd also settled on an RSS Reader.  I looked at a few, RSS Bandit, FeedDemon, Windows Live, Awasu, and probably a few others that don't readily come to mind.  My issue with all of these is the amount of work involved in setting them up.  It's not that they're particularly troublesome if you can live with a straight list of blogs from your OPML file, but if you like to categorize like I do, then it becomes troublesome, especially when you use multiple machines with multiple OSes on them.  Having to repeatedly setup my subscriptions kills me, and it's one reason I have always avoided using newsgroups.

Ideally, I'd like to just set them up once, and be able to read them either online or in a rich client, and have both of those stay in sync.  The only such RSS reader I ran across that met the bill was NewsGator, and in particular, their Inbox product that integrates with Outlook.  I might have gone with their FeedDemon product, except I am in fact one of those users that almost always has Outlook open, and I figure why have another app that is always running.  Also, I bought Newsgator way back in '04 when it first came out, so having an already-purchased license (with a free upgrade to the latest version) helped me decide.  Naturally, I had long since lost my license info, but they have a nifty license retrieval mechanism, so it was painless to get it going. 

The feature I most like, in case I wasn't already clear, is that they integrate and synchronize with their online reader, so I can have the best of both worlds, and when I want to set the rich client up, I can just grab the stuff from my already setup online source.  I can make new subscriptions and reorganize them on either the rich client or web, and it will keep them in sync.  It's the best of Plaxo for RSS.  Ah, now this is software for the connected world.

So that's about it.  I just thought I'd pass along my findings to you in case you've found yourself in a similar predicament.  I'm not trying to convince you to change if you're already happy with your setup, but if you aren't happy, consider these two products for the total blog/RSS reading and authoring solution.  I hope it helps!

Saturday, 08 July 2006 13:45:13 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
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The opinions expressed herein are solely my own personal opinions, founded or unfounded, rational or not, and you can quote me on that.

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