Here is the most common question from bloggers coming from Windows who are new to Linux.
“What’s a good Linux desktop blog publishing application I can use to replace Windows Live Writer?”
Here’s the answer: None. All Linux desktop blog publishing applications pretty much blow. Sorry, but that’s the way it is here in the last week of 2013. Maybe 2014 will be brighter for Linux desktop blog editors.
So if there aren’t any good replacements for Live Writer in Linux, why am I telling you to pimp my desktop blog publishing editor? Because I’ve written over 100 blog posts during the last year since moving to Linux using the process outlined in this article. Not only do I not miss Live Writer, I propose that my Linux blog publishing experience is even better than it was in Windows.
A Different Approach
When I completed my review of the available Linux blogging applications and found nothing comparable to Live Writer I changed my approach. I looked for the very best Linux WYSIWYG HTML Desktop Editor. I found it in Blue Griffon. Here’s a screenshot of this article in progress. WYSIWYG, and extremely clean HTML.
The Publication Process
Every post on NixMash was written in Blue Griffon. Here’s an overview of the writing and publication process.
- Start with a simple Blue Griffon Page Template.
- Enter the Title and start writing with full WYSIWYG support.
- Create images beforehand or while writing the post, ftp to site and reference the images by url in the Blue Griffon Insert Image Popup dialog.
- When post is complete, copy HTML and paste in WordPress Editor Text window.
- Make any final edits in the WordPress Editor
Here’s a copy of my NixMash.html Page Template when starting a new post. Live Writer users know this looks very similar to a new Live Writer post.
Here’s an image of the HTML Source View, and a link to the NixMash template HTML file.
Image handling gets its own section, since this is the biggest stumbling block for less tech-savvy bloggers if using a blog publishing approach I’m describing here. Most Live Writer users will drag an image into the Live Writer edit window and click “Publish.” When viewing the post online the images magically appear. They don’t realize their blog’s MetaWeblog API Handler may be saving the image to some obscure sub-directory on their blog and perhaps use some ImageHandler redirect to display the image. They simply add the image, click “Publish” and it displays. Cool.
Maybe because I started blogging in 2003, before MetaWeblog APIs and desktop blog editors, but I have always used a direct Url reference to images with a simple <IMG URL=”someimage.png” />. I store images in designated folders on my blog, separating them by year. This approach also made it easier for me to migrate my blog over the years to four different blogging engines (or was it five?)
To use the simple direct image linking approach we’ll need to FTP the post images to our site, which is as easy as dragging a file from one window to another. Here’s how that drag-and-drop looks in Linux Filezilla.
Referencing the image url is extremely simple using the Blue Griffon Insert Image dialog. And not only do you see a preview of the image in the Popup Window (just like Live Writer, if I remember correctly), but the image is displayed in the WYSIWYG editor.
Off to WordPress
As we established, Blue Griffon is a WYSIWYG HTML Editor, not a blog publishing application, so there is no “Publish” button. To publish our post we’ll pop into Source View and copy-paste the post body into the WordPress Editor Text Window. Here’s that two-step process. I never timed it but it probably doesn’t take more than 30 seconds.
And here in WordPress Visual Editor View.
I then copy-paste the post title from the Blue Griffon Page Template, then add any categories and tags. At that point I usually post a draft that I’ll review and edit several times before I’m happy with it, which I will do online using the WordPress Visual Editor.
One of the things I really like about my Linux blogging experience in Blue Griffon over Live Writer is how I can customize the functions I use repeatedly, like creating H3 subheading tags, inserting images or switching from WYSIWYG to Source mode. Blue Griffon supports keystroke customization for nearly every function, so I create H3 subheading tags with ALT-3, insert images with CTRL-I, switch view mode with CTRL-T, and so on. I blogged about that some time ago in Investigating Blue Griffon Configuration Settings.
Pimp it. Pimp it good!
I hope this post has been helpful to fellow Linux users looking for a good replacement for Live Writer. If you’re wondering how to install Blue Griffon in Linux Ubuntu, Mint or other Debian-based distribution, this Handy Tutorial will get you up and running.