Hmm. It’s possible that my expectations for both Ecto and MarsEdit are too high. But I’m an internationally-beloved technology pundit so I’m more inclined to say that no, my standards are actually spot on the money; damn these apps for not reaching for the stars!
This point of view has the advantage of putting the responsibility for my disappointment in other people’s hands. So as you can guess, this is the one that I’m really putting my shoulder behind.
Each of these apps reflects a different approach to blogging. I’ll set that discussion aside for another day. But they seem to be geared towards fairly simple and straightforward posts. They do allow you to jazz things up with a little CSS voodoo, but it isn’t done with any particular elegance…at least none that I’ve spotted so far.
This morning, I wanted to post my latest Sun-Times column. It isn’t a hugely complicated deal. These columns are all BBEdit documents, so the apps ought to have no problems dealing with the content. All I need to do is add a couple of lines of CSS-ified text and then write the “Bonus” material.
Neither editor did a particularly fantastic job of turning that text file into a nicely-formatted blog post. That really surprised the hell out of me. I can get the results I want, sure. But if I use friendly, word processor-style editing (a mode in which I don’t have to throw tags around every individual element), I get funky and unpredictable HTML. If I use the HTML-style editor, I get perfect, reliable results…but jeez, if I’m going to do all of that stuff by hand, I might as well be using BBEdit.
There has to be a good middle ground. The whole experience left me thinking that the optimal solution is to just write an AppleScript that can transmogrify a Sun-Times column automatically and then pass it to my editor of choice.
Reasonable reactions to this lament:
“Andy, you’ve absolutely no idea how to properly use [editor whose logo you had tattooed on your ass a month after downloading the first beta].” That’s a fair cop. When evaluating a new app, I intentionally avoid looking at documentation during the first week or so. This gives the very best apps a good chance to distinguish themselves. With ecto and MarsEdit, it’s entirely possible that a quick and handy solution is just a Command Option Shift F7 Right-Click-And-Drag away.
“It’s unreasonable to expect an editor to be both as easy to use as TextEdit and as powerful as a dedicated CSS-aware code editor like BBEdit.” Maybe. But I should point out that there are golf balls and recreational vehicles on the surface of the Moon. The Humans are an exceptionally clever species; we really ought to be able to find a way to make this happen.
“Well, duh, Ihnatko! The best and easiest answer is always to customize an app to your personal needs via AppleScript!” We’re on the same page, m’friend. So, cool: I have my solution. But what about folks who won’t see this as an “easy” answer because they don’t know AppleScript?
It does look as though when I choose one of these apps for my personal use, the decision will largely come down to figuring out which one has the best support for customization. I was awarded my AppleScript 10-Year-Pin in 2005. As a user, my natural attitude is that an app with sparser features but fantastic AppleScript support and integration is almost always more useful than a more feature-rich one that barely acknowledges scripting at all.
ps – I still haven’t figured out how ecto’s bulleted-text feature works. Humbug!