Do you ever get the feeling that others know something that you don’t? When you’re relatively new to an activity, it’s tempting to believe that the old hands have found a much easier way of doing it, and just aren’t letting on.
So it is with writing and running this blog. At the outset, I wanted to use software which was friendly, let me focus on getting the content right, and helped me keep track of all my articles offline. I chose Red Sweater’s MarsEdit, and have in the main been delighted with it.
Its main window shows my articles in chronological order, or sorted by title, etc., and provides me with a helpful preview including embedded images and other media. I don’t use its media management features, as I am too pernickety over images, which I prepare offline and upload direct into WordPress’s Media Library.
I write each article in marked-up text, which being simple HTML gives me complete control without my having to make any particular effort. Once it is ready to upload, I click on the tool to send the article to WordPress. I insert images and other media online, in my browser (Safari), and set other options up, including scheduled publication.
That used to be all that I needed to do, but for the last year or so WordPress has refused to embed images in a way that allows readers to see them at full scale. To fix that, I have to edit the HTML source for each inserted image, which requires backloading each otherwise finished article into MarsEdit.
This is accomplished by clicking on the Refresh tool in MarsEdit. However, that not only refreshes the article that I have just been editing in WordPress, but the whole blog in its entirety, up to the number of articles specified in MarsEdit’s settings for the blog. And it is that which has been quietly wreaking havoc here.
MarsEdit helpfully suggests that I should have my refresh count set between 10 and 30. Currently, I have it set at 700. If that sounds alarming, until yesterday, it was set at 1900. That refresh count not only determines how many articles are refreshed when I click on the Refresh tool, but the total number of articles which MarsEdit keeps in its local store. So, with it set at 700, although I now have more than 1800 articles available here, MarsEdit only gives me access to the 700 most recent, which takes me back to mid-December 2015.
I frequently need to refer to older articles, and commonly include old images. My preferred method is to open the article (in MarsEdit), copy the HTML source for the image, or whatever, and paste it into the article which I am working on. I need to have access to all of the 1800+ articles to do this.
If I set the refresh count to 1900, MarsEdit retains all my old articles, but whenever I refresh, it downloads every article every time. It is this which is bringing my Mac to its knees at least once a day, and I suspect the WordPress servers are getting a bit fed up being hit like this too. But as there is no way to refresh just a selected article, or articles which have changed, or even just the last dozen articles, it has been the only way to retain access to all my articles.
For the moment, I am working a compromise. I keep the most recent 700 articles in MarsEdit, those which I am most likely to use again. To cover earlier articles, I have exported the whole text content in WordPress’s XML format, and open that in a text editor to search for content from before the middle of December. This is messy, slow, and not what I want to continue doing.
I know that I could work straight from a source view of this blog here, or could set up a mirror in a local copy of WordPress on my Mac. Those are even less efficient, and start bringing their own problems.
So I have a simple question: which offline blog authoring platform is able to cope properly with maintaining 1800+ articles (and still growing steadily)? Surely this is a problem faced and solved by many other bloggers, so what is the secret you are all keeping quiet about? Please? It does need to run on a Mac, as I really don’t want the added complications of Parallels Desktop and virtualisation.