Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Superpowers Of ecto (And Other Wisdom For Future Bloggers)

83858061 80Ebc5B4B1When I started blogging, one of the first things I wondered about was why there was not an application that automated the many little tasks that I had to go through in order to get a post up. Coming up with the material is usually not a problem for me. Getting it from the keyboard to my page (on MSN's Spaces) was a pain.
After I figured out there were other free hosting options out there, I decided that I would check some of them out. I chose Blogger pretty much on a whim. I am sure there are better options out there, but this works for me--and its free.

Since I am on a Mac, and Safari (the default browser that comes with the OS) does not support WYSIWIG editors I downloaded Firefox. It works okay, but I was frustrated by a few things, like not being able to write offline. So began my search.

I had heard about ecto (not capitalized on purpose) from several different blogs that used it, and decided to try the 21-day trial. As soon as I opened the application I knew I would end up purchasing it. This application has templates for putting in your Technorati tags, syncs with, can ping multiple servers to let them know when I update, and many other things as well. While I am sure that other blog editing programs can do these things as well, I felt immediately at home with ecto's interface, menus, and overall functionality.

I post a lot of photos on my personal blog for my friends and family to see what I am up to since I am in a different country at the moment. ecto has made the process of formatting and posting those photos very easy with the formatting options it offers. I can wrap text around the photos, or not, I can change what clicking on the photo does, and alter the size of the thumbnails.

Something I did not expect, is that posting to multiple blogs is very simple with ecto. Once your blog's information is in the program, it will give you the option of publishing to the blog of your choice. Each blog even has its own keyboard shortcut!

If you don't know HTML, and want to make links like crazy, the link editor is very easily configured.

Another feature I was very much looking forward to using was the mailing list. Once the initial setup is done, you can configure ecto to automatically generate an email to send to your adoring fans. The only complaint I have is that this is not working for me. I have submitted a recent request to support, but as of this writing I have not seen an answer.

There is a Windows version as well, though I have heard it is not as finessed as the Mac version. There is more information on the website (link below) along with screenshots and more feature lists.

Not all the features work with all blogs--for example, the trackback manager only works with Movable Type API (future functionality for other blogs is possible in the next version). That said, though, it is a well thought out application full of features (some of which I have yet to exploit explore). I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to make their blogging easier.

It is US $17.95 for the program, but I got my copy for cheaper via a Christmas discount.

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