I read an interesting review of Ecto in my daily meanderings through the blogsphere yesterday. Just like the article’s author, I’m constantly on the look out for a MS Live Writer replacement for the Mac. Although my current setup works – there is something evil, dirty, shameful about firing up a whole VM running Vista JUST to use a blog editor. (Ye Gods! why is MS Live Writer so damn good?!).
So I downloaded and installed Ecto Beta 3 – the only version that is built for Leopard. Initially I was impressed with the number of reviews that the Ecto product has received. It even got 4.5 Mice in a 2003 Macworld review (2003 should have been my first hint.)
The program installed without any issues. During it’s initial setup, it asked for your typical blog server credentials and it did a excellent job of logging in to my blog and pulling down the recent articles. It didn’t have any issues with WordPress’s “split post” feature as a large number of other blog editors out there.
I only played around with Ecto for about an hour – now my expectations is that with any well-built application, I should be able to find most of the features and be productive with a particular tool in that amount of time. Or, rather, not necessarily be productive, but see the potential of an application in that time frame. I’ve grown a bit impatient lately and I just want things to work – one of the big draws of moving to a Mac platform.
In general, Ecto is a good basic editor for blogging. I think the author did a good job in implementing a number of features into the tool – image uploading, separate image dialog box for image settings, a rich text editor, multiple blog service support.
It definitely has that Mac feel – which I do appreciate. I love the ability to drag and drop images right on the text editor. However, some of the basic settings of the application, for instance “allow trackbacks”, “allow pingbacks” were a little difficult to find. They were these little toggle icons in the lower left hand corner of the window. Now, to me this is very Mac-ish – little hidden gems everywhere. Although I thought it might be better for the options to be clearly visible and distinct as they are settings that one uses on a daily basis. Yes, yes, of course, once you know they are there, you know where to find them etc. The point is that I had to go click on every conceivable icon/surface of the program to discover the features – that ruined the experience.
Once I got a good understanding of the product, I simply created a test post with images to see how the product would work. In short, I’m disappointed that I didn’t find the MS Live Writer killer app. Ecto does about 80% of what I want it to do – however, it’s that extra 20% that Live Writer is capable of that I need to replace.
First – the product did not publish my post. It simply sent it to the server. I had to go into the admin section of my blog to publish the post publicly. There may be a setting for this, but I couldn’t find it and I’m positive I didn’t save it as draft on the server, etc.
Second – the image handling just isn’t as easy as it is in Live Writer. The ability to handle floating images just didn’t seem to work. In addition, Live Writer has a few more special effects you can do to an image – like a drop shadow, that Ecto seems to lack.
Third – I love the ability to see my post in the format of my blog. Live Writer is able to do this – why can’t other blog editors? Just at other blog editors, Ecto’s didn’t seem to have this ability.
Fourth – WordPress’s “split post” feature is still a deal killer. I didn’t see how Ecto implemented this functionality.
So my search continues. I’ll come back to Ecto once they come out with a final version and give it another go.