Tuesday, November 13, 2018


I’ve been writing many of my recent posts in MarsEdit, a blog-editing app for Mac. MarsEdit works with a multitude of platforms: Blogger, Tumblr, TypePad, WordPress, Movable Type, and, according to the app’s website, “any blog that supports a standard MetaWeblog or AtomPub interface.” MarsEdit is a wonderful app — “admirable, surprisingly interesting, amazing, lovely, etc.,” as Webster’s Second would say. It looks something like an e-mail app, and using it is like writing an e-mail (a thoughtfully written, carefully edited e-mail) to send to Orange Crate Art, as a draft or as a published post.

I prefer writing in MarsEdit to writing in Blogger for several reasons:

~ MarsEdit makes it possible to collect material and work on drafts offline, without opening a browser. And when I’m online, an extension lets me send links and text to MarsEdit from Safari. See something, save something.

~ The MarsEdit editing window lets me write with a readable line length — sixty characters or so, the length of an Orange Crate Art line, as opposed to the much longer line of Blogger’s editing window.

~ The MarsEdit Preview window lets me see what a post looks like as I’m writing. That’s especially useful to me, as I often catch typos and notice details to tinker with only when looking at a (seemingly) finished post. Granted, I can use Blogger’s Preview and bounce between tabs to see what a post will look like. But being able to follow along in MarsEdit, with a preview that updates itself as I’m writing, is a marked advantage. With MarsEdit I catch many more things to fix before posting.

Using MarsEdit with Blogger brings at least one complication and one limitation:

~ The complication: line breaks and paragraph breaks are a little troublesome. Typing and hitting Return, like so:

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox
will turn William Carlos Williams’s words into “I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox.” But MarsEdit has a keyboard shortcut (Command-Return) that makes entering line breaks (<br />) easy. A little more troublesome: paragraph tags (<p> and </p>), which go in automatically at the beginning and end of a post, add an unsightly gap between post title and text. And the space between paragraphs created by <p> and </p> looks a little too large to me. I am inordinately particular about paragraph breaks. So I use <br /><br /> for paragraph breaks and go into Blogger to remove the opening and closing <p> and </p> tags by hand.

[With and without <p> and </p>. As I said, I am inordinately particular about paragraph breaks.]

~ The limitation: it’s not possible to upload images to Blogger from MarsEdit without a Google+ account. So when I want to upload an image, I have to do so in Blogger. What will happen when Google+ is phased out? Beats me. But I doubt that allowing users to upload images to Blogger from MarsEdit will be high on Google’s to-do list.

You can download and try MarsEdit for free. It’s $49.95 to keep — not cheap. But worth it. And Daniel Jalkut, the app’s creator, provides speedy and helpful responses to questions by e-mail. How do you think I learned about Command-Return? Which, I should point out, is right there in the Format menu.

My hope for MarsEdit: an iOS version. Trying to write or edit in Blogger with iOS is ridiculously awkward: it’s often impossible to position the cursor accurately, and the iOS virtual trackpad just doesn’t work in the Blogger text window. And sometimes the cursor just disappears. (I get it back by tapping on the post’s title and then in the text window.) An iOS version of MarsEdit, with drafts and posts synced in iCloud, would be ideal.

The one thing I really don’t like about MarsEdit: I can’t abbreviate the app’s name as ME without thinking of Windows ME (Millennium Edition) and all the time I wasted using System Restore and restoring whatever problem made it necessary to use System Restore to begin with. All those years ago! I wish I’d discovered MarsEdit years ago.

Related posts
Ta : -da (A fix for paragraph breaks)

[My only connection to MarsEdit and Red Sweater Software is that of a happy user.]

comments: 2

Richard Abbott said...

Re your issue "paragraph tags (p and /p), which go in automatically at the beginning and end of a post, add an unsightly gap between post title and text. And the space between paragraphs created by p and /p looks a little too large to me. I am inordinately particular about paragraph breaks"
Without wishing to sound inordinately geeky, there is a way to set the paragraph style to be whatever gap, large or small, you want. I'd have to look up what this is in Blogger, but at a guess it will mean changing the default blog style page to something different. Which you may not want to do. But the purist in me keeps thinking that to fudge it by using br twice is just not right! Lots of us (including me when I'm being lazy) use br in this way, but strictly speaking its purpose is not to generate space between lines, but to clear a previously set text alignment or similar. Since HTML is absurdly easy-going, we all get away with this, but one day that might change!

Michael Leddy said...

Wow — you’ve out-inordinately-ed me, Richard. :) I’ll see if I can find out something about paragraph settings. I’ve made many changes in the Blogger layout and have only a slight aversion to messing around with the template. I’ll share anything I find out.