Revisiting MarsEdit: What’s New in Version 3?
Earlier this year, everyone’s favorite blog editor announced a completely new version. MarsEdit 3 introduces a number of new and powerful features that address most if not all of the shortfalls we pointed out in a previous review.
Today we’ll give a brief overview of MarsEdit for newcomers. Along the way we’ll point out all of the new features and discuss how much they improve the overall experience.
What Is MarsEdit?
MarsEdit is one of the biggest and baddest blog editors available for the Mac. It is compatible with just about every major blog format you can imagine including “WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Squarespace, TypePad, Movable Type and dozens more.”
The benefits that you receive from blogging in a desktop environment are quite significant. First of all, you can create, edit and save posts offline. This means you can work from anywhere and simply hit the publish button when you finally do have a connection. There’s also the added benefit of easier access to local files, fast switching between blogs, better editing tools, etc.
If you’ve never tried editing a blog from a native Mac application, you should really give it a go. It’s not for everyone, but many professionals have made the switch and would never dream of doing it any other way.
MarsEdit provides one of the simplest quickstart setups you’ll find in any blogging application. Simply enter the URL of your blog and give it a title and MarsEdit does the rest. It auto-detects the type of blog (WordPress, Tumblr, etc) and sets it up accordingly. The only other step is typing in your username and password.
That’s all there is to setting up your blog. If you don’t have a blog, you can start a new one right from within MarsEdit.
After you’ve gone through the setup step you’ll be taken the the main interface, which we’ll look at next.
MarsEdit’s main window allows you to get a quick overview of everything on your blogs. The interface is set up a lot like Apple Mail so it will immediately feel familiar even if you’ve never used MarsEdit. The column on the far left lets you quickly switch between each of your blogs which then brings up a list of previous posts and drafts on the right. Clicking on a post will bring up a preview in the area below the list.
The button strip along the top contains options for creating and deleting posts, editing posts, refreshing the list, viewing a post on the web, collapsing the blogs column and viewing any media contained on your machine.
To create a new post, simply select your desired blog and click the “new post” button.
Two Ways to Edit
When you start a new post you are now given the option to choose between an HTML or rich text editor. The rich text editor really opens the application up to a ton of new users that aren’t comfortable with writing in HTML.
For writers like me who prefer the good old HTML view, this editor has been revamped and now includes advanced syntax highlighting.
Creating and Editing A Post
Regardless of whether you’re editing in rich text or HTML, the options surrounding creating a post are the same. At the top you can add a title as well as any related tags to add to the post and on the right you can add the post to one of the categories already on your site.
You can also set whether or not to publish the post or save it as a draft, apply a text filter, and set your comment/trackback options.
Adding media to your posts is easier than ever with MarsEdit 3. The developers have added a number of new features in this area including iPhoto, Lightroom and Aperture support, importing photos from your Flickr account and scheduled media attachments that can be created while offline and uploaded when you’re ready to publish.
When adding images, you can set the width and height in addition to assigning a filename and alt text. Adding images to blog posts can be one of the biggest time eaters in my workflow and these features really help streamline the process.
Other New Features
In addition to the new features mentioned above, there is now support much better support for WordPress. You can create and manage custom fields and edit WordPress Pages just like you can with posts.
In our last review of MarsEdit, we mentioned that it might not be the best application for those not familiar with HTML and that it really lacked support for WordPress custom fields and theme importing for blog previews. As we stated above, the rich text editor helps the code illiterate users and custom fields are now tightly integrated.
Unfortunately, you still can’t auto-import a theme to make your preview match what it will look like in your blog post, but you can manually edit the default HTML and CSS of the preview template for each of your blogs. Though not as quick as an automatic import, this still allows you to create custom previews that more or less reflect what you will see when the blog is actually published.
To sum up, MarsEdit 3 is an impressively powerful blog editor that has the ability to really streamline your entire blog writing process, no matter which platform you use.
Despite trying and even reviewing several desktop blog editors, I normally just end up reverting back to editing in either the online WordPress interface or simply using good old TextEdit. However, after spending a lot of time with MarsEdit for this review, I may have finally found an app that will convince me to switch.
The $39.95 price tag ($14.95 upgrade) will definitely be the biggest hurdle to new users and will probably keep out most potential customers that aren’t professional or at least extremely active bloggers.
Leave a comment below and let us know if the new MarsEdit features are enough to convince you to leave behind your current workflow. If not, what’s the one killer feature you’re waiting for before you jump on board?