Weblog Client Editors: Why We Need Them

The last few days I’ve been using the movable type for Techblog. As an editorial environment, it sucks because you are constantly having to switch back and forth from preview mode to edit mode. To make things easier,I just create in Word Press and use their rich text editor, which not only contains a preview mode but a wider text form, which makes it easier when composing content.  As it happens, I’ve been cutting and pasting the content from the Techblog movable type system to the WordPress. That has created a real mess (as you can see). There’s an extra em tag somewhere that is causing all the text on this page to print italics. Whoopee!

Still, wordpress rich text editor is not without its quirks. With 2.0 it came installed by default. Sometimes it adds a br tag instead of a p tag (and then the only way to edit text is switching to source mode.) It’s hard to undo some styling feature,and it shows hyperlinks not as code but as they would appear on the page (underlined and with blue lines). Another annoying thing (which fortunately has an easy solution) is that this method of showing hyperlinks doesn’t realize when the hyperlink has ended, so I frequently end up increasing the length of the hyperlink line just by pressing a space bar (and then having to return to the source window to correct it).   The other problem is that its handling of pasted text is not what I often what. If I copy text from another blog for a blockquote, I don’t want to copy the style tags from other blog posts, and yet WordPress pastes the text, styling and all. That is bad.  Still, for the inexperienced user, this editor can be delightfully intuitive, if only because it is based on their previous experience with word processors. Also, as of March, 2006 it is obvious that the open source solution is superior to the semi-commercial MT solution (at least version 3.16).  That’s funny, because for at least a year I used to believe that wp’s user interface lagged significantly behind MT. Such is the magic of open source.  

The problem I have though is the unreliability of web connections and even browsers.  People say great things about firefox, but I feel that it is memory hog and often can be death-defyingly slow. And it still crashes at random moments. And the web transaction where you’re pushing the publish button is really important; don’t mess up now! At least word processors can restore files after a crash;  browser content doesn’t give you that option.

That is why I frequently push “Select All, Copy” on text before I submit publish. And doesn’t everybody? I always keep a text editor open to hold my text buffer until I am sure that  the submission has succeeded. But surely there are easier solutions. I have read about firefox extensions and client editors that can be used with browsers. At one point I examined the options and found them lacking; it’s time to look at what’s available again.

This doesn’t seem to be rocket science. But if we’re constantly filling out text forms and CMS forms, we should stop relying on the reliability of the browser and start originating our content in an offline rich text editor. Alternatively, there should be a way for text form submissions to be automatically put in a temporary buffer while the text form is processing. I’ll investigate and let you know what I find.