MarsEdit and MacJournal in the Rear-View Mirror

One of the most-viewed entries to this blog is MarsEdit versus MacJournal, a months-old entry which continues to show up among my most-viewed entries every week. I’m sure those hits come from people who don’t know me, and just happened to google “Mars Edit versus MacJournal” and found that entry. That’s OK, of course — everyone’s welcome here.

For those of you who missed the original post, I compared these two programs as tools to help me manage mirrored blogs on WordPress and Livejournal. Both applications claim to support both, so I ran trial versions to see which might work for me.

I now follow-up that earlier post only because I thought the end result of my comparison of the two products might be of interest to some of those reading that earlier post. I’ll probably edit a link to this follow-up within the earlier post.

Of the two programs, I thought MarsEdit was overall the better-designed application, but it had the fatal flaw of not supporting tags within Livejournal. MacJournal had other weaknesses that made my decision not just a matter of deciding which tool I preferred to use for the job, but a realization that neither really did it properly. Yes, I could use MarsEdit to manage the dual entries in WP and LJ, then manually log into LJ and add the tags, but that was no easier than what I was already doing. In my final appraisal, neither MarsEdit and MacJournal offered any improvement over my existing workflow, which is to make entries in WordPress via the web interface, edit everything to my liking, publish it, then copy-paste the raw HTML into Livejournal’s web interface.

This method is a bit more “manual” than what I’d hoped for, but it has the advantage of being completely cross-platform (MarsEdit and MacJournal are both Mac-only) and location-independent. I can blog from any computer with an internet connection.

I wouldn’t rule out taking another look at MarsEdit, but my sense is that enhanced LJ support in that application is not forthcoming. The developer seems to consider LJ a fading platform, and though I don’t know whether user statistics support that impression, my own gut feeling doesn’t contradict it. Most likely, I will just continue the same way I’ve been doing it, as long as I’m maintaining two mirrored blogs.

MarsEdit versus MacJournal observations

Both MarsEdit and MacJournal appear to have strengths and weaknesses relative to what I’m trying to do, which is compose and edit blog entries in a single location, and post them to both WordPress and Livejournal and thus keep two blogs synchronized while I figure out which to stick with.

Initially I liked MacJournal better, because you can create a single “entry” and once it’s composed, send it first to one blog and then to the other. MarsEdit uses a different organizational structure in that every blog is kept in a separate folder within the window, and each blog entry must be composed in one blog or the other, then copied-and-pasted into the other blog. Though this is less than idea, the two blog folders are only separated by a tiny bit of screen space, so it’s still more convenient than separately managing the two blogs.

When I post images to my blogs — something I’m trying to do less frequently now, unless there’s a good reason, because it makes composing the blog entry more difficult and time consuming and thus something I’m less likely to do often — I upload the images via FTP to my own server (, in a sub-folder, and then link within the post to the image URL. This way, I always know where my images are, what they’re named, and I can download them, mess with them in Photoshop, repurpose them or whatever. Using the image attachment feature of the blog itself just stashes the file away on WordPress or Livejournal’s servers, and isn’t how I want to do it. I have plenty of storage space on my own server and this seems more in line with how I edit and post to the web site and online store.

Here’s where the problem with MacJournal reveals itself. MacJournal is promoted as software for blogging and journaling but it’s really best suited for private diaries, note-keeping, or journals, rather than a full-fledged blogging tool. There’s no means of editing the HTML code of your entry, which reveals just how limited MacJournal is as a blog editing tool. Also, as I’ve worked with this software in evaluation mode for two days, several times it has completely lost track of my Livejournal settings and I’ve had to re-enter them from scratch. I don’t mean just re-entering or confirming my password, but entering all the blog address, username and password information as if I’d never entered it in the first place. For these reasons, MacJournal just isn’t going to work.

MarsEdit has some weaknesses. I already mentioned that each entry must be duplicated from one blog into the other — not a deal-breaker, but I wish there were a way of creating just a single entry and then cross-posting (even if it takes two steps). Another weakness is the lack of tag support within Livejournal. My WordPress posts can be fully edited and manipulated within MarsEdit, no problems I can find at all, but Livejournal posts cannot have tags entered. If I want to tag my Livejournal posts I’ll need to log into Livejournal’s web interface and do this manually. I figure this is the direction I’ll go, just log into Livejournal every once in a while and tag all the entries I’ve made.

MarsEdit HTML support is great, in fact it looks like it could be a perfectly good interface for editing regular old web site pages (though it wouldn’t function for uploading your files — it only works with blogging platforms), as it has HTML code interface, WYSIWYG editing, and a web preview capability.

One final downside to MarsEdit is the requirement for OSX 10.6 (that’s Mac talk, for you Windows fellers), and my old laptop, on which I work first thing in the morning while I chug my iced coffee, is stuck on 10.5 because it’s an old Powerbook G4, and 10.6 won’t install on PPC processors like this. So assuming I work with MarsEdit, which is how it looks at this point, it will have to be only on my various newer Macs.

Note: this blog entry continues to get a lot of views months later, so I wrote a followup entry here.

Getting the hang of this

I’m getting the hang of this new MacJournal system. I tried MarsEdit too, and it’s actually a nicer interface in many ways, but it doesn’t appear to support tags in Livejournal. So to use MarsEdit I’d have to separately log into Livejournal’s admin screens and set up the tags for every post there, which kind of defeats the purpose of having one program that keeps everything up to date and synchronized.

One thing I haven’t figured out is why the images from my WordPress blog don’t properly come through into Livejournal, but I’m sure I can get that straightened out.

Possible blog strangeness through this weekend

I’m converting over from creating each blog post in the blog’s web interface, to a program called MacJournal which lets me write a blog post once and crosspost it to more than one blog. I’m doing this because I’m trying out both WordPress and Livejournal at once and want to run them both in parallel until I decide if I want to use just one.

So far I’d say WordPress creates a much more professional and polished blog, but Livejournal has some nifty social networking or “community” features WordPress doesn’t have. So I’m doing both, and I don’t want to have to remember which posts have been made on which blog.

As I get the two blogs synchronized, and play around with MacJournal, some posts may appear out of time sequence, or posts that previously appeared on WordPress may appear again (until I get the duplicates trimmed out). It’ll look messy for a day or two or three, but once it’s all lined up, it should be pretty slick.

By the way, MacJournal looks pretty great. I like MarsEdit better in some ways (it automatically retrieves your previous blog posts from the server) but it doesn’t seem geared to simple crossposting. If you write an entry for one blog and want to post it to another blog, you have to copy and paste the content into a new blog entry within the folder of the second blog, and post that… which isn’t much improvement over just running two totally separate blogs that I administer from the web admin pages.

MacJournal site:

MarsEdit site: