Back to Top

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

ScribeFire review (comparison with Windows Live Writer)

202898518_b5cee052da_o I’m constantly searching for more efficient ways to write blogposts. Currently I’m using Windows Live Writer in a VirtualBox instance running Windows 7, but I wanted to give ScribeFire a try.

The short version: it had some interesting features, but on the whole it had too many negatives compared to Live Writer to be useful for me. The long version:

The good:

  • Cross-platform, which means that I wouldn’t be tied to Windows (or some emulation layer)
  • Open-source
  • Supports blogger
  • Can import and edit existing entries from Blogger (Live Writer only knows about the entries you created with it)
  • It has spellchecking in code-view (Live Writer only has it in the WYSIWYG view)
  • It doesn’t mangle your HTML when posting. WLW “compresses” it (strips out unnecessary white-space), which might get you a slight performance improvement, but will annoy you to no end if you wish to edit it later.
  • It can search for pictures directly on Flickr. However, it offers no way for you to comply with the licenses – for example for all the pictures I find imagery for the blog on Flickr using the advanced search and checking the “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content” option (I also check the “Find content to use commercially” just in case I will monetize at some point this blog)

The bad:

  • Keyboard shortcuts don’t work on Linux. Even on Windows they work in a limited way: you can’t press for example Ctrl+I twice, once to italicize then again to come back to normal, because the selection is lost after the keypress.
  • It doesn’t support spellcheck for the title of the post. You can get around this by cutting and pasting the title in the body of the post, but it is still annoying
  • Editing in WYSIWIG mode produces incredibly atrocious HTML (to be more precise: it produces almost no HTML). It doesn’t even wrap paragraphs in P tags. Comparatively, Live Writer produces quite usable and clean HTML (when I first tried WLW, my fear was that the resulting HTML will be along the lines of the tag-soup created by the “export to html” feature of MS Word – but it is much better.
  • The categories/tags pane is a pain to use. First of all, I’m quite sure it didn’t import all the tags I use on Blogger, but just a much smaller subset of it. Second of all, it has no filtering capabilities, you have to scroll trough the list. WLW has a nicer (not perfect, but much nicer) quick-filtering feature for the tags.
  • It doesn’t offer manipulation options for the uploaded images. While this is somewhat understandable (since there is not very much you can do with JS), at least basic resizing (even if it is via the “dumb” method – ie. specifying the width and height for the image tag) would have been nice. Compare this with WLW where I can insert an image which is right aligned, scaled correctly with shadow added, right aligned and linked to the original image in seconds.
  • ScribeFire mangles the HTML code entered directly! This was one of the biggest drawbacks (combined with the lack of keyboard shortcuts). For example it seems that it doesn’t know about the <code> tag, and in my last post it started converting tag signs into &lt; / &gt;

All in all, WLW is currently a superior product. It has its problems, but they are far less and fewer between than the ones in ScribeFire. This doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on ScribeFire (or on other, alternative blogging tools), but this isn’t the right moment to switch to it.

Picture taken from La case photo de Got's photostream with permission.

5 comments:

  1. Well said sir. Much better than mine!

    I tried Live Writer some time ago but didn't like the "seperate" part of it (i.e. another program). That's what I initially liked about ScribeFire.

    As soon as I can find a tool where I no longer have to create a post in the source-code editor...I'll be a happy guy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree with you. I, too, am using WLW in VirtualBox and Win 7. Draw back that I found to that is, in a pic heavy post, it drops the connection. Or, more precisely, it takes to long and the connection closes. After trial and error I can resize images in Scribefire to fit my Blogger blog field. I am going to experiment with Gimp to try and add shadows, etc. Still, it is a lot of extra steps that I do not have to do in WLW. Good post.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I also use WLW over ScribeFire. It's interface is superior. I am tempted to purchase RocketPost though. I am attracted to some its readability features:
    * Instant pull-quotes
    * Drop caps
    * Paste quote: Adds quote source (e.g. “[NYT]”) automatically and inserts "..." between snippets
    * Search: Find and link to previous posts
    * Favorite links: Instantly link to a Wikipedia article, Technorati™, Flickr™ or Del.icio.us tag, movie review, word definition or Google™ image search
    * Related posts: Automatically link to related posts

    I'd be interested in your impressions.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @Jim: thanks for the tip, I'll give it a try.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Also scribefire doesn't support RTL languages

    ReplyDelete