It’s official – I’m looking for a desktop blogging application, and Raven is next in line for me to test out. Will it work or not?
- Zoundry Raven Beta 1.0.375, built on 08/05/08 (no idea if that’s May 8 2008 or 5 August 2008).
- System requirements: not easily found if they’re listed. I still haven’t found them. System requirements for previous versions are listed, but not this one.
- Open Source
I’m using Windows 7, and even though it’s not listed on the accepted Windows O/S list, because Vista is, Windows 7 should be completely compatible.
Unfortunately, within five minutes of installing it, I was already seeing problems.
- It could only handle downloading the latest 200 posts from my blog, and beyond that, it crapped out, same as BlogJet. Raven offered a more detailed error message than BlogJet did, but it’s so unhelpful with all of its gobbledegook high-level geek speak.
- Of those posts it downloaded, many were duplicated or triplicated. Uh, yeah, that’s just not good. At all.
- Raven has this weird image problem. Insert an image into a post, and even though I do not enter any numbers into the fields for the image size, Raven does it for me, along with a checkmark in the “lock aspect” field.
- My images are already at the exact size I want them to be.
- The image sizes aren’t even consistent – sometimes it’s a reasonable shape, like square or rectangular, although not necessarily the shape the image was originally in, or flat as a pancake.
This one, for example, is locked at 28×30. The original image is 200×150.
- This one, for example, is locked at 461×30 even though the original image is also 200×150. The long thin images happen when the alt text has a lot of characters entered. I verified that by posted this image twice, once with no alt text, the second time with a lot of alt text. The first time, it was also locked at 28×30, whereas the second time, it’s locked at 461×30. Am I the only one who sees a problem with this?
- No matter what I try to do, that image is staying locked. I can change the image size, but some number has to be entered. Try to remove the numbers or uncheck Lock Aspect and it reappears again, whether I do it through design view or xhtml. What is up with this? This is not something minor–I have images in nearly every post. Multiple images, frequently. My images that I’ve already uploaded to exactly where I want them. For this to be happening is grossly inconvenient.
- Raven seems to see photos from major photogallery websites just fine and displays them inline as the blog entry is being written or edited. The photos on my site, however, it does not. I suspect that this is what’s at least partially leading to my image problem mentioned above. That, and the software thinking that, because this is a WordPress blog (even though it’s self-hosted, not at WordPress.com) and it thinks that image sizes are necessary for the images to display properly. Except that that’s not true for a self-hosted WordPress blog and there is no way to turn that off.
- Edited to add: This one I noticed just after publishing this. The H2s that I used to mark up the various sections were deleted just prior to this entry being published. Despite me saving the post first. I confirmed by trying it two more times. So, no H2, H3, and so on after all. That would be a major problem. Major. And sadly, it took me until now to notice it. I checked the other entries I published with Raven, and they’re also all missing the formatting I had added.
- Edited to add: Noticed this while editing in WordPress itself that Raven, to create the Technorati tags at the very end, adds unnecessary (by my standards, admittedly) HTML code, all of which is intended to enhance the Zoundry page rank. Here’s what it looks like:
<p><!– Tag links generated by Zoundry
Raven. Do not manually edit. http://www.zoundryraven.com –> <span><span>Technorati</span> : <a rel=”tag” href=”http://www.technorati.com/tag/Raven”>Raven</a>, <a rel=”tag” href=”http://www.technorati.com/tag/desktop+blogging+platform”>desktop blogging platform</a></span></p>
The stuff I bolded is what I take objection to. More so because of the scare tactics associated with “do not manually edit”, although the sheer lack of necessity in assigning classes with do not exist on my css is not lost on me.
- Categories that I assigned from within the program did not carry through to the published post.
Feature enhancements needed:
There’s no formatting options – no bold, underline, strikethrough, bullets, numbering, indent, outdent, and so on. Nothing. Is it hiding somewhere? Do I have to turn it on?Ah, I see. I have to go through View – Perspective – Browse and then open the post. How very odd. And not entirely convenient. That really should be more intuitive. And it turns out that it works fine, showing the formatting options, in subsequent uses of the program. Bizarre.
- The XHTML view does not wrap lines. Meaning that scrolling side to side is necessary. This is cumbersome and a pain in the buttinsky. This should not be that difficult to implement.
- It looks like Raven doesn’t differentiate between drafts posts and published posts, and this may be why it’s downloading duplicates and triplicates. Will have to verify, of course.
- While I can change settings for each account – because, yes, it can also handle multiple blogs quite easily – I can’t change the name for that account. Which sucks, because I didn’t know what they meant by Account when I set up my first blog account and would like to change it. Which will mean deleting it and starting over.
- If I opt to ping any of the pinging sites, Raven pings them every single time I publish, which includes when I edit the entry and re-publish. There’s no setting to ping it once the first time it’s published and not after that. I’m going to have to set up the pinging on my WordPress site itself – each of them, indivudually – rather than let Raven handle the pinging for me.
- The blog posts are not sorted in date order. They might be sorted in Post ID order as set by WordPress or by some random internal number assigned by Raven. In any case, I cannot change the sort order to suit my preferences, which is date order. This will make life more difficult for me, unfortunately.
The forums are empty. There are a lot of posts that have no responses, and that goes back about a year. Ouch. So no one’s paying attention, no one gives a hoot.
Since they decided to go open source with this software, I checked out their page on code.google. Two whole people cough working on the project. Latest updates to the code are January of this year. One issue is listed (ID 1). No one’s updating here.
There have been no responses to my bug reports or forum posts. Granted, it’s only been three or four days since my first one, but nothing? At all?
On the plus side:
- Those blog posts that were previously downloaded did not disappear, unlike BlogJet.
- It can save posts.
- It keeps my drafts separate from my published entries, which makes it immensely easier to keep everything straight. Especially for me, the girl who has at least a couple of hundred partially written blog posts. So much easier to keep straight.
- It can keep track of pages in addition to posts from the blog. Well, hallelujah! BlogJet couldn’t do that.
- It has formatting such as Heading1, Heading2, blockquote, and so on.
- I can easily publish an entry to more than one blog. Easily. Very very easily.
- And it can easily handle more than one blog.
- Pages and posts are handled in separate sections under the blog account. Which makes it handy for finding stuff.
- Adding links can be done by highlighting text, then rightclicking and selecting “add link”. Much easier than BlogJet.
- Bug reporting is built in. Very very very nice. Very. 🙂 That brings me happiness, actually. And I’m impressed. 😀
Fahim’s already asking what it’s written in. It’s Open Source software, which also means free in addition to him being able to make changes to the code. It’s possible that he can make the changes I need to get it working properly.
So far, and this is now only about 20 or so minutes into using Raven, it’s miles ahead of BlogJet in terms of features and functionality.
The first day or two I used Raven, I thought it had possibilities. I have a work around for it not being able to load more than the 200 most recent posts, so that’s not a huge issue for me.
The image size issue, however, is pretty big. Huge, in fact. The image issue is so huge that, no matter how good the rest of Raven seems to work, this is a deal breaker.
Yes, I could do a workaround, ie by manually entering the exact size of each image I post, but that would be extremely time consuming and I’m just not willing to go there unless this desktop blogging platform actually ends up being the best one in existence.
I sincerely hope it is not.
As for Raven, as soon as this entry posts, this test is over and I’m moving on to the next desktop blogging platform.
Wish me luck! 🙂
Meanwhile, these are the desktop blogging platforms that remain on my list to try out:
- Qumana Blog Editor – ad centric
- Windows Live Writer
- BlogMate plugin for TextMate
The ones I’ve reviewed:
- BlogJet 18.104.22.168, released 13 September 2007
- Zoundry Raven Beta 1.0.375, built on 08/05/08
- Anconia RocketPost 2 Pro 2.5.441
- BlogDesk Version 2.8, build 400 from 22 February 2009
Ones that are otherwise out for me:
- Bleezer – mac only
- Blogo – Mac only
- MarsEdit – Mac only
- Ecto – Mac only
- Zoundry Blog Writer – it became Zoundry Raven, reviewed above
- Scribefire – Firefox plugin, not desktop blogging platform
- AIRPress. AIRPress no longer exists. Its domain is owned by squatters.
- Flock – web browser with built-in blogging, not desktop blogging platform.
If you know of other desktop blogging clients for Windows, please let me know. I’ll add ’em to the list and take ’em for a test drive. 🙂
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