I’ve been using WordPress for a few months now, and while I really like it so far, it’s not perfect. Upgrading certain plugins can be a royal pain-in-the-ass. Manually editing PHP code to get some plugins to work gets on my nerves. And creating complete backups of the site is a multi-step, manual process.
But these are occasional irritants. One thing that bothers me on an almost daily basis is the WordPress text editor. You normally enter posts into WordPress by logging in to the “site admin” portion of the site and clicking on Write > Write Post. You are then taken to a page that contains a small text window, a category list, an upload editor and a few other authoring widgets. The text window has a toolbar which allows you to click a button for basic tasks, like changing text to boldface or italics, or adding a link or picture, or indenting a paragraph.
The problem with the text editor is that the text input window cannot be resized. So one is forced to type a post – however long – into a box that’s 659 pixels long by 166 pixels tall. You can get a feel for what this is like by opening Notepad on your system, resizing the window to a small rectangle on your screen, and typing away. You can never get a good feel for how long a post is overall (since you have to scroll up and down to see your complete post), and the constant scrolling sometimes drains my creative juices as I become more worried about technical aspects of my post than creative ones. And to make matters worse, the WordPress text editor toolbar is achingly limited. In many cases, one has to click the “Code” tab at the top of the editor window to see the post’s markup code and enter certain codes (like block quotes) manually.
There are replacement editors out there, but sadly they either cost money, are a huge pain to install (requiring substantial manual hacking of WordPress’ PHP code)… or they simply aren’t much better than WordPress’ own editor. So where can you find a good editor for WordPress? An editor that works offline, works in full-screen mode, and has a plethora of editing tools built right in? If you have Word 2007 installed on your computer, you already have it!
Open Word and click on the “Office” button in the upper-left corner of the window. Click on” New” and select “New Blog Post” in the window that appears. Click on “Manage Accounts” and choose “New” to set up your blog on your system. A drop-down box will appear that lets you choose what type of blog you have – currently, Windows Live Spaces, Blogger, SharePoint Blogs, Community Server, TypePad and WordPress are supported. Click “Next” and enter the details about your blog requested on the page that follows (this varies depending on your blog type, but usually the box will want your blog’s URL and your username and password).
That’s it! No, really! Once you have the account set up, you can click on the “Insert Title Here” header and title for your post. You can then click “Insert Category” button; Word will automatically connect to your blog and download a list of categories. Choose the category, then start typing up your post! When you’re done, just click the “Publish” button and the post will be published to your blog! You can even click the down-arrow on the “Publish” button and select “Publish Draft” if you’d prefer.
In any event, using this method gives you a full-screen text editor complete with Word’s arsenal of editing tools. Sadly, it’s not prefect. Although Word can automatically upload pictures to your blog using the blog’s built-in tools (Word copies pictures in the same uploads/year/month/filename scheme that you’re used to), it gives it a filename based on the title on your post, which is something you might not like. Additionally, although the markup code that Word 2007 uses is actually pretty clean (no, seriously, it is) it can get a little wonky if you’re trying to create a complex post. So if you need to post an article with lots of screen shots and graphs… Word 2007 might not be for you. On the other hand, if you’re writing a long, wordy post… you might want to check out Word 2007’s blogging tools.
After all, this post was written using them!