I’ve talked about blogging clients before — you can see all of them on my Software Review Page if you’re interested — but over the weekend, Sara asked me how to insert a table to help her organize some links on one of her pages.
The table is a nice way to collect multiple links in a neat, orderly fashion. It allows people to see groups of related posts or articles in a clean, easy-to-see way. But putting a table on a WordPress page can be tricky, because WP doesn’t have a built-in table function in its visual post editor. So, what’s a person who’s unfamiliar with HTML code to do?
Use a blogging client, of course.
For those who don’t know or haven’t gotten sick of my repetitious harping about it yet, blogging clients are software pieces which are installed either locally, on your computer, or integrated into your browser. They typically offer better feature sets than the standard built-in blog editors from most blog hosts, and allow you to do all the really cool things you’d like: Make tables (in this case), change post date and time (I write all of my posts at least a few hours ahead of their posting time), format, split posts (most of them), edit HTML directly (if you’re into that sort of thing), change formatting on fonts like colors, size, and typeface, image insertion and handling, editing old posts, and much more. It makes blogging easy and allows you to focus on content. Which is why you blog, right?
So, here are my three favorite blog clients. I prefer the offline blogging client model, which means, you can write your post in these clients and publish them without being on the Internet. With online blogging clients or the built-in editors, you need to work within your browser. I like the option of not having to use the browser to compose my entries, so these are the ones I’ll focus on.
First up, in no particular order, is Zoundry Raven. I found Raven a couple of years ago, and while it’s been a while since they released an update to it, it works very well.
The interface for Raven is clean and simple, which is a big help, but it does launch a separate window when you compose a post. That is, there’s one window open which shows your blog(s) and the posts and pages (if you choose to display them; an option during set-up for each account), and a second window initiates when you write a new post or create a new page. That’s a touch unwieldy for me, but your mileage may vary.
I like the clean look of Raven’s post creation screen, which they call the "Design" screen. It offers just a nice, white background with black TNR text in a good, legible size (12 point). The post font itself, however, is dependent upon your template, so don’t worry — Raven won’t overwrite your normal blog font. The tool bar, located just above the design screen, allows you to do almost everything you can imagine doing, from changing font settings and formatting to inserting tables and bullets to adding XHTML tags. No blogging client has a better set of tools for straight-up blogging, although others do have bells and whistles (enhancements) which are great.
Raven handles images well, easily and offers a preview of the page (on the "Preview" tab located at the bottom of the post editor window), and direct XHTML editing (via the XHTML tab).
Raven’s also capable of posting to multiple blogs. A click of the green arrow just beside the "Blog(s)" drop-down list below the button bar will allow you to select a second blog for the post. I used to have four (!) blogs, and all of them had the same content. This was a boon to me. With a single click and a little patience, the post goes up on multiple blogs.
On the downside, Raven’s account window is a bit confusing and cluttered, but chock full of great information. Adding new accounts is a piece of cake. And overall, it’s not too big a resource drain on ol’ Betsy (my computer, now approaching five years old). It’s a little sluggish in my experience, but it can be run portably from a USB flash drive.
Raven can do a lot more than I’ve shown you here; it can download templates (with varying degrees of success) from your blog for previewing posts, and manages things like images and unpublished drafts. To find out more, visit Zoundry and pick up Raven to try here; read an earlier review of mine on this page.