Client Test (MacJournal)

The final client on my list of clients to test is MacJournal, published by Mariner Software. I think I only ran across mention of MacJournal once in my perusal of the Mac blogs and of Google, and I’m not entirely sure why.

Checking my basic requirements, yes, MacJournal handles offline editing and posting just fine, and it keeps the posts in its own database that doesn’t clutter my filesystem with posts. Perfect on that front.

MacJournal also handles multiple blogs. It seems to do a reasonable job of it, but it’s a little confusing to configure. While the actual setup of the blog server details is as trivial as the other apps I’ve tested, in that you simply type the URL of your blog and the log in, getting to that point wasn’t immediately obvious, and management of these is not quite as intuitive as in Ecto or MarsEdit. Still, I do currently have MacJournal set up with multiple blogs, so it passes—just not with flying colors.

As for my two desired features, MacJournal passes beautifully. To review, those desired features are as follows:

  • Word count widget
  • Proper Mac rich text editor

MacJournal features a live, modeless word count (and character count) widget right there at the bottom of the editor window, plain as day and very useful. Excellent.

It also uses the very rich text editor about which I’ve posted and after which I’ve longed in the other apps (including the WordPress built-in editor). It’s the Mac rich text pane, the system-supplied widget that’s used in TextEdit, Scrivener, Journler, Voodoo Pad, and most other rich text editing apps. Furthermore, it uses the rich text editor’s ruler, giving you access to all the formatting options you expect from the rich text editor. I’m not sure how the ruler itself is useful to a blog, but it’s there. All the menu items are as you’d expect, along with all the menu shortcuts. And the rich text editor popup menu is fully armed and operational.

It allows some aspect of tag/category management. Like most Mac apps, it supports a completely arbitrary tag list, generated and managed on the fly without reference to any existing body of tags. (If you’ve ever worked with tags on a Mac app, you know what I’m talking about. If not, don’t worry about it.) I’m not sure at this point how this tag system will interface with my blog’s, but we’ll see shortly. (Update: Nope. The tag didn’t stick. Fooey.)

The category management is pretty minimal. You can only set the categories to which the post belongs, and only when uploading to the blog; you cannot create new categories.

Let’s just test the ordered list capability here, using the standard Mac rich text editor ordered list formatting. Again, the names of the HiRISE uplink apps that I’ve written:

  1. HiPlan/the HOGG
  2. HiTemp
  4. HiSEAS
  5. HiCommand

Overall, too, this app is nicely polished. It looks good. It looks like a proper Mac application with properly designed iconography and everything. (That’s what’s been bothering me about Ecto. Although it works pretty well, its icons leave something to be desired. They look like they’d look if I designed the icons to my own apps. Well, I’m a pretty okay software developer, but I’m no graphic designer, and my icons tend to reflect that. [By icons, here, I mean the toolbar icons and the custom widget icons, not the actual app icon as it appears in the Finder. On that front, Ecto really shines, strangely enough.])

It’s also $35, which is more expensive than I’m willing to go for a blogging client.

And hey, that’s the point, actually. MacJournal isn’t a blogging client. It’s a journaling application with the ability to post to blogs. It can also post to iWeb and to MobileMe or to e-mail. Or not even post at all. That’s why the full ruler is present, and that’s why the full formatting bar is available. It really is a full rich text editor, on par with an app I’ve mentioned before, Journler. In fact, the two seem to have similar goals. One of the main difference is that MacJournal gives you multiple journals contained (if you like) in multiple documents (the local database to which I’ve referred). I’ve got one document here right now, and it’s got two journals in it, each of which is linked to a different blog. I could add a third journal that has nothing to do with a blog, and I could create a brand new document to hold multiple other journals. Journler, however, is focused on a single journal and currently has now blogging capability. (It used to be there, though, but not in the current version. The author notes that he’d like to return it in a future update.)

It’s pretty nice, though, and if I weren’t already using Journler, I’d probably pick it up.

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