Blogging Techniques

September 22, 2007

I decided to really tackle the method of my blogging madness. After some thought, I decided that I had to analyze programs in a specific order as they will affect the next choices. For example, picking a RSS reader that doesn’t work with the blog editor would cause me to go back and check other blog editors. Because of this, I decided to tackle things in this order:

This is also works because it is going from the limited to large audience applications so by picking a blog editor first, it should make choosing a browser easiest in the end, or so my thinking goes.

For those of you who don’t want to read everything, my final result is MarsEdit as a blogging program, Google Reader for RSS and Intel Optimized Firefox for browsing, with a curiosity for Flock as it evolves as a replacement for all of those programs.

Blogging Editors to Try

*Evaluation Standard – Able to post to a WordPress 2.3 blog using keywords with minimal effort.


This is still in alpha, so i will cut it some slack, however it is not handling keywords from wordpress 2.3 well. There is a keywords dialog box that I cannot get enabled correctly. It can post new keywords, but will not download keywords from posted items, so it runs into syncing problems. It does have a media browser to quickly add media from my machine to the blog though.


Nice simple interface and works perfectly with WordPress 2.3 tags by changing one option. Post editing is quick, although the default view has HTML markup to clutter things. Flickr integration is a great feature as I am quickly able to access my pictures and add them to the blog post. Editing of posts is also done quickly and Growl integration caps things off. This is my editor of choice.

Readers to Try

Evaluation Standard – View all of my new items in a single view that is easy to navigate. Be able to star/flag items to read later. Be able to blog an entry from the reader.


A simple but efficient RSS reader. Has a 3 paned view that shows all of the feeds in groups, then headlines, then each item. Can be configured to mark articles as read when clicking on the headline so using the arrow key, you can whip through unread articles fairly quickly. Many different reading styles, but the 3 pane view is the only view, so it is missing the combined view I like so much. It also supports flagging of articles, which I use quite a bit. It also does not support blog editors, so that is a bit of a drawback. Importing also worked, maintaining the folder structure correctly.

Google Readergreader.png

The web based reader of choice for many now, the addition of search has added this back onto the list for me. I like the combined view and it would be perfect except that it doesn’t have a great way of blogging about an item. The other drawback for Google Reader is that only Firefox can set it as the default reader, not Google Reader’s fault, but an issue to deal with. Flagging is done through the Star function and works as it should. Importing also maintained the folder structure without problem.


Very Mac looking application with lots of options. The biggest issue is that when reading in the combined view, when hovering over an item, it does not mark it as read. This means that I have to use the keyboard to click up through each item. It also doesn’t like some enclosed media items, so that isn’t cool. It does have the ability to post to a blog easily and it interacts with MarsEdit very nicely, so it has that working for it. It is close, but just not there for me. It also has flagging and imported the folder structure as expected.


Another very Mac looking application, however it is also restricted by the viewing options. It did not import the groups for my feeds, but it does support them. It then displays everything in a headline view and when clicking on it, changes to that item’s view. This is the only way to mark an item as being read from the main view. Navigating between items is done with the space bar, so going through a lot of unread items means jamming on the space bar a lot. The program does support blog posting which worked with MarsEdit


Shrook goes with a 4 pane view with the groups, then channels in each group, then each item in each channel and then finally the content of the item. This again cannot be edited, and marking items as being read is similar to Vienna where you have to arrow through each item. Flagging works just fine and blog posting with MarsEdit was a snap. The lack of a combined view does make it difficult to recommend though. Shrook also saves each item as it’s own file, so that can be a bit of a file hog.


endo, made by the same guy making ecto, is a neat looking application, but it doesn’t do the combined view easily. It does allow blog posting easily. Everything revolves around groups of feeds that you have the headline view of and have to arrow through. The lack of other viewing options is disappointing, but the folder structure was adopted as endo groups, so that is good. Another thing to note is that the Applications Support folder for endo seems to create a file for each item adding up to lots of files.

Bloglines Betabloglines.png

I shouldn’t give my final opinion on this, since is a beta product, however the basic feature set is there and it is still missing something. It does combined views for all articles and for groups kind of. The combined view groups all articles by feed, so I don’t get to see the newest item on top, I get to see the newest item from the top feed in alphabetical order. This seems like something that should be changeable, but I can’t find it. The other interesting view is the Quick View where you can see the 5 newest items for all your feeds, but there is no quick way to mark an article as being read without marking them all as read.

Browsers to Try

Evaluation Standard – Non-bloated (subjective of course) and has the Mac look and feel.

Firefox 2firefoxicon.jpg

Firefox has been my favorite browser for a long time. It has a minimal footprint where you get to add whatever you like into it and it renders standards compliant pages fairly well. It is also the only browser that supports Google Reader subscriptions out of the box. The biggest problem I have had lately is that Firefox has become sluggish and crashes often. Because of this, I am trying out:

Intel Optimized Firefox 2bonecho.png

Same old Firefox but optimized for Intel Macs. It picked up my Firefox profile just fine without having to change anything. It also found all of the plug-ins I have and has them working just fine also. More time will tell if it runs into the same issues as the normal version, but for now, this seems to be the winner.

Safari 3 Betasafari.gif

Safari 3 is better, but still not perfect. The biggest issues are lack of plug-in options and that Google Reader doesn’t render quite right on it. There is also the minor issue that I like to use my address bar as a sort of temporary bookmark area where I can drop down a list of pages I have typed the address into, Safari does not have an easy way to access this. On the plus side, Safari 3 is very fast though in loading pages, noticeably faster than Firefox and Opera. Speed isn’t everything though, and it isn’t enough to make me use Safari.


Oh Opera, you try to do so much and end up falling short in so many areas. You have a built-in feed reader but have no option to change to a different reader. The interface is not very Mac-like and most of the “neat” features are just that, neat but don’t provide any real substance. It works as a browser, but all it’s extra stuff just bloats things up.


The simplest of all the browser, it has the basic features of pop-up blocking and feed detection, however you cannot use Google Reader as your default feed browser, so that is an issue. It also feels a little less polished than the other applications, but it is rather speedy compared to everything except for Safari. I would really put Camino in the same boat as Safari, it is great for people who like the usage of Safari, but want a Gecko browser.

The Wild Card


Always the wild card, Flock brings everything to the table with an RSS reader, blog editor and browser all in one. It also has other features, such as a web clipboard and media browsers which provide some interest. Up to 0.9 version, Flock has matured from their initial release, however releases are few and far between, which provides some hesitancy. Breaking down each section, we start with the blog editor.

The blog editor is very basic, allowing for posting and that is about it. It does support categories, but not the keyword feature in WordPress 2.3. It also does not allow for editing old posts, but you can overwrite old posts with a new one. Not the most useful and the lack of keywords eliminates it from use as a blog editor, however it was interesting enough to have me check back on it when/if there is a 1.0 version.

The RSS reader is actually pretty nice. It has a great combined view that looks a lot like Google Reader in function. It allows you to save posts and blog posts directly from the built-in blog editor, which is cool. The biggest problem I have is that I cannot restrict it so it only shows unread items. If it had this feature, it would be very useable for my purposes. The only other concern I have is that with over 100 feeds, it seems to use quite a bit of memory and slowdown was noticeable.

The browser is basically Firefox with a fairly busy theme. This is done on purpose to allow quick access to the advanced features, but it also makes it look really busy. Because it is built on Firefox, it has many of the plug-ins that Firefox can install.

Additional Notes

In the course of writing this, I found some neat things out. The biggest one is a third party program called the Google Reader Notifier that runs in the menubar and lets you know when new items are available. The really nice feature of this is that it allows browsers other than Firefox to set Google Reader as the default feed reader, getting rid of one of my concerns about Safari and Camino. The other thing is that instead of blogging about a blog post from an RSS reader, the sharing ability of Google Reader might work best for gathering interesting posts by other people. This would be difficult to do with many RSS programs, so it ends up being another nice feature.

Final Outcome

First, this took a lot longer than I was expecting, mainly because I wanted to give each program a fair shake. I hate installing a program, giving it 3 minutes and deciding it is not for me. I like to think that I pushed each program to try and do what I wanted it to, and in the end, I am happy with my results. My biggest surprise is MarsEdit and how far it has come from the previous version. The second biggest surprise was that Flock was fairly close to accomplishing all of the tasks by itself.

I should also comment that I have attempted similar tasks like this before on this blog. This was the most comprehensive and the plan from now on is that I will evaluate new or updated tools as them come out, and then use the appropriate tag so it will be easy to find, for example, all of the blog editors I have reviewed. I will also keep a small area of the sidebar to keep track of the current tools I am using.