Saturday, September 03, 2005

Making the second post easier

I've been moderately successful at getting some of my extended family to create blogs, but I have had less success in getting them to post anything. Most of the new family blogs have one entry -- their first.

If the obstacle is that the technology is intimidating, there are a couple of programs that make posting to your blog as easy as writing a letter and printing it. The first is an add-on to Microsoft Word, made by Google for its Blogger service, which can be found here. Another is a separate editor called Qumana LE, which you can download from here. Both are free.

Blogger's Word add-on has the advantage of familiarity. Once installed, it adds four new buttons in the toolbar: Blogger Settings, Open Post, Save as Draft and Publish. I gave it my Blogger username and password and that's all the set up it needed. I could use any of Microsoft Word's features, such as Autocorrect and grammar checking, and posting was as easy as clicking on one button.

Qumana worked similarly, but had a few more advanced features, such automatically inserting Technorati tags and support for almost any blogging system (such as Typepad and Blogware). One neat feature is something called the DropPad. It's a floating icon that let me gather Web sites or snippets of text by dragging from my browser and dropping it on to the icon. The collected items are put into a document for later editing and posting. Qumana lacks the ability to save your post as a draft, something I do frequently. You can, however, save it on your hard drive (in Rich Text Format) until you're ready to put it on your blog.

Both are for Windows only at the moment, which means I won't be using them much, and anyone comfortable with HTML will find them limiting. But for the average user -- and that's most of my family -- either makes posting a snap.