As you know, my beloved and I are avid users and proponents (evangelists, some might say) for Windows Live Writer. If you’re on Windows and you have a blog, you need that software. It’s the single best blogging tool available to mankind, bar none.
But, like the sleazy, smarmy jackass I am, I can’t remain faithful. I have to check other things out. I may never actually use those things, but I like to know about them.
If you check out my Software Reviews page, you’ll find ScribeFire there. I wrote that post a long time ago, and ScribeFire’s been through a lot of changes since then. So when I saw my wife installing it for FireFox 5, I knew something was up.
I asked her and she informed me her “Blog This” for WLW button didn’t work anymore. She sent the guy who made the add-on for FireFox an email, asking about it. And she never heard back. Matter of fact, the developer who created that little piece of software hasn’t updated it for more than a year. So, now that my spouse is using FireFox 5, she can’t blog content directly to her blog with WLW anymore. She’s looking for alternatives now, because that’s a major feature for her.
Don’t get us wrong, nothing will ever replace WLW for us. Ever. Period. WLW, for one thing, allows us to blog even if we don’t have an active Internet connection (which happens more often than it should, frankly). We can queue up as many posts as we’d like and fire them up to our respective blogs whenever the connection comes back to life. During the hard financial times, when we didn’t have Internet access of our own at all, this was a God-send (more literally than I can express). Now that we do have our own connection, we only need to be concerned about storms. When it rains we seem to lose connectivity intermittently. Go figure.
But the software she was checking out is called ScribeFire Next. It’s a redesign of, and possible future replacement for, the original ScribeFire, and does a couple of neat things WLW had exclusive domain over before. It may actually be more useful for things like movie and website reviews because of the ability to open the software in the browser window. I can do it either in its own tab or split the screen. The content I’m blogging about is therefore right at my fingertips and I can reference it, copy it, and link to it all in one easy step, using a single window, and never have to switch applications from FireFox to the blog client and back. Easy.
The editing tool bar provides almost all the same tools as the WordPress editor itself (YMMV with Blogger sites, however, so check before you use it). It has a specific button for inserting YouTube videos (and leaves me wondering about insertion from other sites, such as Vimeo, but whatever), and for using Zemanta to link to similar articles. I’ve used Zemanta before and didn’t notice any significant spike in traffic when I did; neither did I notice a significant drop off when I stopped Zemantizing my posts. But, it’s there if you’d like to try it.
Assuming you have the ability to monetize your blog — Blogger allows this, but WordPress does not — the ability exists in ScribeFire Next with a simple Monetize button. That’s a nice feature, to be sure, especially if you make any amount of money from your blogging. Me, not so much, and since I use the freebie WordPress option, I can’t use this at all.
One of the things which might be slightly better, but isn’t greatly improved IMO, is the image handling. That little image up there, of the button, was much more challenging to insert and align than it should’ve been, and way harder than image insertion ever was in Windows Live Writer. ScribeFire (or Next) could sure use to step up its game in that area.
They have, however, dramatically improved the interface. I like it much better, and there’s a handy side panel which places things like categories and tags in easy reach. I’ll find out if ScribeFire Next puts the tags where they actually belong now, because ScribeFire (last time I used it, anyway) placed them in the body of the post rather than registering them with WordPress’s tag system. They’d be missed unless I published the post, edited it on the blog itself using WordPress’s editor, and added the tags manually in the RIGHT place before removing them from the body of the post (where they’d be labeled something like ‘Technorati Tags” or whatever).
The side panel also provides an easy way for you to access previous posts. ScribeFire Next allows scheduling posts, saving drafts (or to save your progress in this case), and mark a post as private if you’d like. You can stick an excerpt up, which is useful for those of you who insist on only posting a small portion of your posts to readers (what the purpose is, I’ll never know; hits to your page? traffic whoring? clue me in, I don’t get it). Post the little excerpt you want to be visible in feed readers and that’s what will show.
As with most other blog clients, you can view the HTML code behind your post and edit it directly for more control. So, for the most part, it’s a pretty straight-forward blogging tool which is relatively feature-rich and light on resources. One caveat though: FireFox 5 is still plagued by the memory leak problem which has haunted it from the beginning. Future versions plan to enable features to free up those resources individually and help with that problem, but for some reason the eggheads at FireFox can’t seem to find the fix for the issue, and so it goes happily onward. What that means is, you may want to shut down and re-launch FireFox before you blog with ScribeFire Next to avoid any memory or resource issues. I don’t know, because this is the first I’ve used it since, oh, say, 2007? 2008 maybe?
Anyway, if you’re a big-time blogger, and you use a lot of content from the web to do your blogging, this is a great li’l piece of software. ScribeFire Next is available for FireFox, Opera, Safari, and Chrome. So unless you’re still using Internet Explorer (which is a mistake, as I’ve said in the past, unless you’re a system admin and know how and where to harden it for security holes), you can use ScribeFire Next. (Take a wild guess why Microsoft’s browser doesn’t support it?)
I’m still going to use Windows Live Writer for most of my blogging, but it’s nice to be able to mix things up once in a while. And, if I find something of interest on the web to talk about here, it’s nice to know I can do so without having to get out of the current application to do so.