Ecto is an application that allows you to post to your blog and edit recent posts locally. Blogging software and services make it pretty easy to add and edit posts. Why would you want to pay extra for a specialized program to help with the process? For me it’s a matter of speed and convenience.
- My number one reason is speed. Even with the cable connection I have, desktop software is still faster than working on the server.
- Close behind that is the ease of using a program that takes full advantages of the Mac OS. (there is a windows version of Ecto but I’ve never tried it)
- A web page text area is not as nice an editing environment
The first reason can be offer small benefits if your connection is extra fast but for most of us the difference will be noticeable. Number two is where we start to see the real benefits. Ecto is a Mac program with the benefits of an application that is well integrated with the operating system.
Want to add a photo? Click the iPhoto button.
Or choose click a button on the bottom of the window or choose Add Attachment from the Draft Menu. Easy enough.
Ecto also allows you to insert Quicktime movies with several display options. Again, this process works more simply and quickly than trying to do this in any online blog editing I’ve seen.
Ecto offers two text formatting options, Rich Text and HTML. If you don’t want to mess around with HTML and still want to add basic formatting, pretend that Ecto is Mail or TextEdit. Just make your text bold or italic or colored or whatever. You can change font size or family – observing the normal cautions about web fonts. Simply, you can style your blog posts without worrying about knowing HTML.
Or, if you are interested in semantic markup, Ecto makes HTML editing easy. You can specify custom keyboard shortcuts that will insert any tag sets you want, making Ecto an excellent and fast HTML editor. This gives cleaner code, without inline style attributes and allows you to add heading attributes to headings instead of simply large, bold bits of text. This is beneficial for search engine optimization and accessibility for screen readers. It also appeals the to code purist in me.
Let’s see, easy image and media insertion, faster editing, automatic text formatting, if you want it, or keyboard HTML insertion if you don’t, what else is there to like? Actually quite a bit. Ecto is a Cocoa based OS X program with all the benefits that entails. It uses the built in OS X dictionary, thesaurus and spell checker. There is even a word count feature. All of which make writing easier.
There is a built in preview. That means you don’t have to save an entry, then reopen it to edit text or check image alignment. Ecto access OS X services, connecting it to other Mac programs. I use the HumaneTextService to write my entries using Markdown and auto-format them with a click. Ecto will even validate my HTML.
As with any mature program, the list of features goes on and on but this covers the highlights. I’m using WordPress for my blogs and Ecto takes advantage of the extra features that an advanced blog application like WordPress or Movable Type offers. But it works with online services like Blogger, too.
Connecting to your blog is straightforward. Give Ecto your blog address and it usually auto-discovers the connection script. Enter your username and password and you should be set to go. You can have as many blogs as you want.
Documentation is very good, too, as is tech support. This is shareware with a 14 day free, full featured trial.
Ease of Use: 4