Offline Blog Post Editing on Mac OSX – Part 5: MarsEdit


MarsEdit developed by red sweater is a commercial software which license costs $40 approx. We’ll be reviewing here MarsEdit version 3.4.2 which can be tested freely for 30-days. It runs on Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) and 10.6 (Snow Leopard).  Owners of Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) or earlier need to get an older version of Mars Edit.

On install, MarsEdit does not ask the blog system. Only the blog URL as well as the administrator login and password are requested. Cool to have a light setup. But, then why should one choose between HTML or rich text editing? Knowing that it’s possible to switch from one format to the other during editing and that the default for new posts can be set in preferences, we suggest red sweater developers to skip this step in the next version.

MarsEditMainWindowPicture 1: Main Window Lists Posts and Pages for Every Registered Blog

One difference with competitors we reviewed so far is that after install, MarsEdit downloads not only recent posts but also pages. The download is swift and the formatting is preserved, including embedded HTML tags. The main window (Picture 1) lists posts and pages of all registered blogs together with local drafts.

MarsEditFormatDropDownListPicture 2: Formatting is Accessible Only Through a Drop Down List

The post editor looks rather poor (Picture 2). Few tools show up on the toolbar, and there aren’t much more available. Indeed, most functionalities can be accessed through a single drop down list. You’d better learn short-cuts, since this applies to frequently used features such as text formatting!

Setting post options are straight forward. Categories already defined in the blog are listed on the right pane. New ones can be added. Among other available options, one allow choosing if the post should go to the drafts folder on the server or be published immediately. It’s also possible to set the post slug and excerpt. Regarding tags, we like the completion that eases retrieving older ones. Unfortunately, there is no means to list all tags used in the blog.

MarsEditEditorPreferencesPicture 3: Defining an External Editor

An editor preference allows to select an external editor (Picture 3). The list can be extended so you can add your favorite text editing software and use it on a right-click menu of the main window. But, only HTML code of your post is accessible this way! For rich text editing, you have to use MarsEdit built-in editor.

Among features we like is the ability to customize the text font. We could select a bigger one, less tiring for the eyes :-). Also, to avoid getting disrupted by other stuff on the screen, the editor window can be maximized. Better, it can go full screen. Actually, in the full screen mode the window is almost the same size as when maximized. The only difference is that the application menu is hidden until the mouse goes near the top of the screen.

Regarding the integration with the system and other apps, MarsEdit is perfect. You can copy past text, links, or images from other apps. Text formatting and links are preserved. Speaking of links, you can edit existing ones or insert new ones from a right-click menu or from the drop-down list. The editing is done in a window that allows only setting the URL. Rather limited compared to all competitors that allow setting a tooltip or decided whether to open the link in the same window or not.

MarsEditInsertingAnImagePicture 4: Inserting a Picture

Inserting an image can be done by clicking on the media button. An import window allows selecting a picture from application libraries (e.g. iPhoto), from a folder on the  local disc, or from Flickr. A tab is there for selecting pictures and files from registered blogs, but it didn’t show anything for us. Alternative solutions to inserting an image are: importing from a scanner or a webcam, or capturing an area from the screen. Yet another option is to drag a picture from another app or from the finder and drop it into MarsEdit post editor. A window pops up (Picture 4) so one can decide whether to upload the image immediately or to leave it for later. It’s also possible to resize the image. If you plan to adjust the image size, you’d better do it at that time. Once the image is inserted, it cannot be edited any more. Annoying!

Once ready, a post can be previewed. By default the result is close to what you see in the Wysiwyg editor. This rendering relies on a HTML template that  can be adapted to make the preview closer to what is displayed on the blog. However, some technical knowledge is required to get it right.

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