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MarsEdit 2

Product Review

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Product: Mars Edit 2
Company: Red Sweater Software
Contact: inquiries@red-sweater.com
Price: $29.95
Pros: Simple user interface, direct connection to all major blogging systems
Cons: no direct integration with iLife media browser

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Product Rating: 4/5 Impressive!

by Ronald Schoedel, AAUG Member

Everything I know about the actual act of blogging, I’ve learned since I accepted responsibility to managing the Reviews section of the AAUG website last month. It’s true: I’ve managed to be on the internet for over 15 years and never had occasion to post a blog entry before February 2010. Learning how to operate and work within WordPress and all that never meant a whole lot to me. What I found was that despite the best advances in HTML and AJAX and Java and the rest of the web technologies out there, using the built-in program on WordPress was something of a pain. Interface elements were slow to load, slower to respond to input, and quite honestly, I prefer working outside of a web browser unless absolutely necessary. While the web is a great information dissemination medium, running full-blown applications on the web still falls short of the experience of working with dedicated client software on a local (meaning the one sitting in front you) computer.

That’s why I turned to MarsEdit to take care of the AAUG Reviews blog. Starting a new post is as simple as creating a new word processing document in a program like TextEdit. MarsEdit’s main interface uses a familiar two-column layout, much like OS X Mail: A list of your blogs on the left, and when a blog is chosen, a list of posts in the upper right part of the window, and beneath it a preview pane, just like in Mail. Having this familiar workspace is infinitely more intuitive than a web browser-based blogging tool.

Writing a post is as simple as typing an email. You don’t need to write your material in another program, but you may it you want to. I started this entry in Word, but finished typing and proofing it in MarsEdit. Spelling, word count, and other useful writing tools are all available from within MarsEdit. Common html tags can either be typed in or chosen from a drop down menu, so no extensive HTML experience is required to use MarsEdit. Even inserting an image is nearly as simple as using the standard OS X media browser. A similar image uploading pane does not integrate directly with the iLife media browser, but it does offer a direct connection to your Flickr account as well as an easy drag-and-drop function for photos on your computer.

Once of the nicest things about a dedicated blogging program such as MarsEdit vs. blogging online, is the ability to compose entries while offline. Even if you don’t have an internet connection (for example while in the park, on a plane, in a vehicle–but hopefully not driving!) you can get everything ready to upload, which is done with a single click on “Send to Weblog”. Interestingly, even actions that have to directly interface with the backend of the AAUG WordPress set up even seem faster than doing the same thing in a web browser. Tagging posts is as quick as typing the tags or checking them from a list. You can even create new categories and manage commenting from within the post composition window. A handy bookmarklet for your web browser allows you to quickly “re-blog” something you’re reading with a single click. Integration with the heavyweight of text editing, BBEdit, is also built-in for those who may prefer that environment with it’s incredible text editing features.

For me, MarsEdit was my first real introduction to the world of blogging. I had mucked around in the WordPress interface directly and was turned off by its learning curve. MarsEdit has no learning curve, really, yet it is powerful enough and flexible enough for a power blogger, it seems. It may even be enough to finally convince me to do something with the empty blog I set up months ago for myself.

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