December 12, 2004
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As you may or may not be aware, I post my entries to this blog using Ecto (Shareware, $17.95, or ¥2,030). I started using it back when it was Kung-Log, and bought it when it (deservedly) went commercial. It is a great blogging tool, and version 2 for the Mac is now out. (For PC users, version 1.5 has been released, but I won't be commenting on it.)
There is a fairly radical interface change, and I'm not sure that I like it, although my distaste might come more from having to re-learn the interface rather than from real problems with it. In the new interface, the blogging window becomes secondary (it had been primary), and the entries list becomes the new central window. There is an advantage here in that you can now have more than one blogging window open at the same time. Maybe it makes sense, but it takes getting used to.
Another change is the addition of a "Rich Text" view for the blogging window; you can switch between the classic HTML interface and the "Rich Text" interface, which I guess, as it states, shows the page as if it were read as an RTF file. However, the rich text view is not WYSIWYG to the web page like the preview window is, and when you create special HTML in the HTML view and then switch back to rich text, if Ecto doesn't recognize the HTML, it will erase it. I lost about 2 minute's of hand-typed table code that way. Solution: never go into rich text view, which makes it more or less useless. Ecto would be much better if there were a "Preview"-like view, which shows exactly how the page would render on a browser, but you could type directly into it--more like Composer in Mozilla has.
Other than that, there's little to grouse about. Oh, it would be nice if all the HTML shortcut keys worked in rich text mode, or if you could use shortcut keys to switch blogs while looking at the Entries & Drafts window, but those are minor. The new version does have some good improvements. First off, the Preview window works a bit better--it used to have lots of trouble displaying changes while you were typing in the blogging window, but now it works a bit more smoothly--not perfectly, but better. There is also a preview pane below the entries list now, allowing you to quickly see the post from the past you are about to open.
And there's the addition of the Amazon.com link creation engine. Let's say you're typing a blog entry and you mention a book or a video. You're an Amazon Associate, which means that if you link to an Amazon product and someone buys that product through your link, you get a share. But to make the link, you have to go to the Amazon site, find the product, get the ASIN or ISBN code, go to the Associates' pages, go through a multi-step process and then copy and paste the link back into your blog entry. Not exactly a snap. With the new Ecto, you just select the title of the product you typed and execute the keyboard shortcut COMMAND-SHIFT-A. A search window appears for the item on Amazon.com; select the product type and search. When you see the product you want, just double-click on it and Ecto makes the link for you (after you entered your associate ID in the options, of course). This takes a really cumbersome process and makes it easy--a great feature. (See my last post for an example of this; it would've taken a lot longer to do this under the old system.)
But there's another new feature I also like: the ability to simultaneously post to more than one blog at a time. I often post the same entry in this blog and over at the Expat (if it's political), and before, Ecto made me wait until it was finished uploading to one blog before I could even see the other blog. That seems to have been fixed, a welcome addition.
There are a few other minor touches--more menus and buttons, some more options than before. But before this upgrade, Ecto was already the best blogging tool out there, now it's just that much better.
Posted by: Sean P. Aune at December 15, 2004 12:01 AM
Posted by: Adriaan Tijsseling at December 15, 2004 08:06 PM