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Review: Chrysanth Webstory.

Fabulous As Usual

 

This is a review of Chrysanth Webstory, an offline blogging client (like Semagic, or Windows Live Writer).  I offer this information in case anyone else is having the same issues with editing in the browser or using WLW—if you are, then this information is for you and here’s the cut.

 

If it isn’t relevant to your interests, then I shall offer appeasement via a video of corgi puppies stampeding. 

 

Hastily hunting for a replacement for my old client (WLW) I downloaded no less than six alternatives.  Some were buggy, others no longer supported with patches or updates.  Others were nice enough but didn't support LiveJournal (KINDA IMPORTANT, THAT).  Then there were two weird exceptions: Client A returned an error when you clicked the "Buy Now" link, and Client B's website didn't seem to even have that option.  Between trying each one, I ran the repair tool and volleyed queries at tech support.  It was during one of these when I ran across the Webstory program, by Chrysanth.</span>

 

The program presents with a simple interface: a "management mode" where you can view the individual blogs that you manage and their attributes on one side;  a detailed list of entries for the selected blog on the other, larger slice of screen real estate.  An unobtrusive ad for varying charities occupies a thin banner; I had to look a few times to be certain it was there.  Its presence doesn’t bother me—I barely notice it.  Further, to keep you from futzing around in your fundamental setup, the program opens editor windows independent of the Management screen—which came in handy when I thought I’d accidentally deleted most of one of my blog’s database.

 

The setup is simple: input the blog info, pick an activation type, and finish. You're set up!

 

Editor

 

The editor is almost WYSIWYG.  The document will display in the proper fonts but on a plain white office document background—but hitting the preview button immediately translates the appearance of your work into the layout of your blog.  Sacking the ability to edit in this mode, you get instead the far-more useful ability to simply click a drop-down menu to see how the entry would look in one of your other blogs—an indispensable feature when you have more than one blog to manage and have a lot of crossposting to do.   The editor itself is almost perfect but there are a few hangups.

 

As a stickler for polish, the lack of 'smart formatting' (curlyquotes, autocorrections for em/en dashes and ellipses, to name a few) at first was an annoyance, but since I often compose in an office-document and then paste into whichever editor I am using, this becomes a minor wish—hardly a problem.  However, a few formatting issues exist, like the inability to adjust column width by dragging the table borders.  This is easily adjusted by pasting a table created elsewhere, though.  An autosave feature is notably missing—I lost an entire completed post when the program crashed.  (This was the first time it’s crashed, too—the program is remarkably stable.)

 

Another problem lies in the 'read more' tags, often used to truncate a lengthy entry—they don't seem to work in the Livejournal templates and are hit-or-miss on the Wordpress templates.  (This may well be merely a bug, or I might not understand how it works yet.)

 

The spellchecker would be more useful if it either had an option to not flag double-spaces between sentences or add it to the dictionary.

 

Database

 

Setting up your account creates a database that will serve as the backup for your blogs' new posts—and if you choose, it will fetch and backup past entries as well, eliminating the threat of losing months (in my case years) of memories.  Backing up is fast, easy, painless and brainless.  If you choose, you can password-lock your archive—good for shared computers.  I haven’t tested it, as this is not a shared computer, I live alone, and on the rare chance that I have to let someone borrow my machine, it’s more than likely that they will respect my privacy.

 

The Shiny Stuff

 

I just wanted something I could use to edit, queue, and post.  So I was a little surprised to see my Wordpress suddenly notify me of a newly-posted spam comment.  I'd moderated it before I realized I hadn’t bothered to open my site, access the comment, access the dashboard, and THEN gotten rid of the offending comment.  I barely had to do anything to take care of it.  It was as sleek and simple as the Android Wordpress app.

 

Photo Albums

Adding a Picasa album allows Webstory to keep synced with photos uploaded on the go without having to think about it.  A photo I’d fiddled with using Instagram and then uploaded to Picasa was ready to go without me thinking about it—well, I did have to wait for my computer to sync, but that wasn’t such a difficult task.  The photos integrate easily and can easily be spruced up with the in-software plugin—or used as-is, as one might do for an image manipulated using Instagram, Pixlr-o-Matic, or similar program.

 

The Database Itself

The database aspect of the program is ludicrously easy to use.  Even if you post in the browser, or using a different client (sometimes, sites have proprietary markup that doesn’t show up outside of clients designed specifically for it), you can back up the post with just a few simple clicks.

 

Easy Crossposting

Webstory has perhaps the easiest cross-posting ability of all of the clients I’ve used: it’s just a matter of checking more than one check box before you finish.

 

Stability

Coming off having used Windows Live Writer, I was used to frequent crashes, alerts the program had ‘stopped working and needs to close’ that didn’t close the program but instead let you keep going and popped that same alert up every four words, an autosave function that didn’t really work, and the occasional layout-breaking glitch.  So Webstory’s stability was a nice change of pace.  There were a few initial issues, but they rectified themselves once a few drivers were updated.  There is no autosave—so Ctrl-S is your friend.

 

The Not-So-Shiny Stuff

 

Credits

The fact that frequent/pro posters  burn through credits is a bit of a snarl for me; I have to limit how often I use the client to post directly to avoid burning through credits—I’ve somehow only managed to blow through only three of my initial fifty, though. You have to pay for more credits after those are gone.  It is an evolving program, however, and every bit contributes to development—which is actually nice, considering that the program is otherwise free.

Table Formatting

I’ve found the table-formatting to be counterintuitive; it lacks resize-bars of the style of Office, which I’ve grown rather accustomed to.

 

Overall Score

As you can see, I didn’t find many problems with this software.

After spending a couple of months using this software, getting acquainted with its ins and outs, I’d have to give the program a solid 92% score. There are a few things that are missing that I like—the ability to use small caps, mood icons for LiveJournal, autoformatting of straight-quotes, ellipses, and dashes—but these are by no means dealbrakers.  I’ll be sticking with this as my master editor.


And now as promised: Corgi Stampede.

RELEASE THE HOUNDS! <3



EDIT:  Whoops.  I forgot to mention: You can get the program here.

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