Review : BloGTK – a Linux blog tool for Moveable Type

I’ve been having problems doing longish postings using Moveable Type‘s standard maintenance interface. While it’s fine for simple babblings, when doing longish reviews and commentary, say, like this one, doing all the edits in a <textarea> really gets wearing. So I set out to find a tool for my Linux machine to make posting easier.

First of all, there ain’t many. I found only 2 references on the net, one via
FireFox‘s
Extensions
directory on Texturizer.net, but that didn’t
seem to fit the bill. The other came through a quick search of my favorite software directory,
Freshmeat, and that led me
to BloGTK.

Installation

Due to the joy of Debian’s
apt-get tools, I was able to
install BloGTK via a simple ‘apt-get install blogtk’. This required a few dozen other packages, which
apt-get happily installed, and in a few minutes installation was complete.

But, lo, there was no binary! The debian package apparently missed making a binary link anywhere, so
I resolved that with a quicky startup script in ~/bin:

dbs@jboat:~$ cat bin/blogtk
#!/bin/bash
echo "Starting blogtk..."
python /usr/lib/blogtk/BloGTK.py

Once that was set, I was able to start up the app. Setting up the target URL for the blog was no
problem, though I needed to do a little research to figure out where the xmlrpc.cgi script for Moveable Type
was (fyi, it’s /cgi-bin/mt-xmlrpc.cgi). A few clicks, and up it came.


The good

It works! That should be a win for everyone. I’m able to review postings I’ve made, type up new
ones (like this one), and do basically what bloggers should do. Blog. 🙂 The interface is clean and
easy to work with, nothing was difficult to find or unintuitive. I’m able to save postings for later
re-editing, (though the ‘draft posts’ are not available from my MT installation, so if I’ve been working on
something online, I can’t switch to using BloGTK to continue editing, or vice versa).

The Preview Post option is outstanding. What a win having that just on a tab.

The bad

I have some nits. The ‘edit post’ screen, which has a large input area, automatically wraps the
text as you type. Great, works for me. If I need a hard return, I can either turn on Convert Breaks and
let it do it for me, or I can put in pagebreaks. However, the Advanced screen, where I do most of my
long posting typing, doesn’t wrap. I have to hit [enter] on every line, which means I can’t use Convert
Breaks, which means I have to use <p> page breaks to format the paragraphs. Annoying!

It’s not all that zippy. I’ve seen some fairly noticeable delays when chatting with my MT server, which
is on the local network. My machine is a PIII-700 w/384meg, and is under no heavy load, so it should have
been faster, but I can deal with that.

BloGTK spews a LOT of warnings when first starting up. Lots of GTK ‘null’ warnings and the like. Doesn’t
seem to be a problem (no crashes), but is annoying.

Multiple categories are not supported in the Moveable Type posting. I can probably change this in
the MT maintenance screens, but it would be nice to have it in the client. Oops, in fact, after I posted
this article, I realized that the Category pulldown on the edit screen isn’t working at all, and my
posting went in without a category. Had to go fix that by hand.

Keyboard shortcuts other than the normal GTK keys would be a win. Like ^S for Save, etc.

The Ugly

Wow the lack of a binary on the startup is annoying. That may be the Debian package maintainers, so
I can’t blame the BloGTK folks for that one. But really, other than the wrapping in the Extended Entry
screen, there’s not a lot to gripe about.

Summary

BloGTK, at least at first blush, seems stable, user friendly, and workable. Kudos to author
Jay Reding! I’ll be working with this more over the next
few weeks, stay tuned to Planet Geek!

Dave Shevett

About

A wandering geek. Toys, shiny things, pursuits and distractions.

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15 thoughts on “Review : BloGTK – a Linux blog tool for Moveable Type

  1. I automatically distrust any app that has its toolkit as part of its name, doubly so if it spews warnings while running. Glad to hear this one works reasonably well otherwise. 🙂

  2. Ooof, hit another “wish…” element. After startup, I want to automatically connect to my blog (it doesn’t) and select the blog I normally work with (it doesn’t).
    So at the moment, when I invoke BloGTK, I have to do File->Connect [wait about 10 seconds], then hit the pulldown to select the blog I want (I have several on my site), wait another 5-6 seconds), and THEN start typing.
    I know by experience that that sort of delay will make me not use the tool, and just go to my blog admin page, which is bookmarked in my omnipresent browser.

  3. I agreed with about everything said in the article. One area, which caused my a bit of headache, is I18N or to be more precise the input of german umlaut characters like üöä. As long as I stay in the ASCII domain, everything is fine, but the ‘öüä’ are turned into UTF encoding. Anyway, I wasn’t able to find a setting, so that the umlauts appeared in the blog, as I typed them.

  4. The “executable” (it’s a python script, not a binary) is called “BloGTK” (note the caps). I found this a little confusing myself at first, but it’s helpful to open up synaptic (or use dkpg if you prefer) and look through the list of files for something in /usr/bin. Now, if your executable really does happen to be missing, file a bug report, but I suspect you just tried to run “blogtk” without the right capitalization.
    Another cool blogging app is gnome-blog (also in Debian’s repository). It’s a Gnome panel applet you can click on to drop down a little window to write in. It does simple WYSIWYG which is nice, but doesn’t give you as much control over the HTML as I sometimes like.

  5. You may wish to check out MozBlog, a Mozilla extension, at :
    http://mozblog.mozdev.org/
    Last time I checked ( a few months ago ) it had a few “warts”: no freezes but some configuration glitches.
    The main advantage I found was the WYSIWYG cut/paste.
    If you get a chance could you check it out and post back here?

  6. You can fix yourself the annoying behaviour of Advanced screen. Just load blogtk.glade, choose
    the MainWindow dialog, and look for the extendedView and set correctly the Wrap Lines. That’s all.
    But, you miss a really bad thing: You can’t get blogtk from CVS, to allow people fix the problems with the last code.

  7. Chip: “doubly so if it spews warnings while running”
    You should run gedit or almost any other gtk/gnome app from the commandline. They all spew tons of warnings. It’s just common misuse of debug-assertions.

  8. If the startup messages are annoying you could just add this couldn’t you? (I mean I know that doesn’t fix the problem but I bet most people don’t start that program from the command line.)
    #!/bin/bash
    echo “Starting blogtk…”
    python /usr/lib/blogtk/BloGTK.py > /var/log/blogtk.log

  9. BlogGTK: Editor de bitácoras para Linux

    En el Wiki de la Blogosfera tenemos una sección dedicada a clientes de edición remota de bitácoras. El más conocido es probablemente w.bloggar, cuya versión 4.0 viene en camino. Para MacOS X, existe Ecto. Y para Linux, BlogGTK. Planet Geek!

  10. “… it’s helpful to open up synaptic (or use dkpg if you prefer) and look through the list of files …”
    Or you could just select the Applications -> Internet BloGTK menuitem. 🙂

  11. Spewing is a common problem with Gnome apps. Strangely, I can’t seem to get any Gnome app to spew right now, so I suspect what’s going on is that Gnome developers go out of their way to make sure their own systems are set up perfectly, but out in the real world, we run into problems they haven’t thought of. It’s more a problem of inadequate testing, than it is of developers who are so clueless they think debugging printf’s in release software are ok.

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