ecto3 alpha released


I’ve been using ecto2 as my blog editing software for over a year now, and while it’s got its flaws, I’ve found ecto to be far better than other similar software. But I’d been thinking lately that despite its clear frontrunner status, it’s still got several “features” that I find irritating. (Bulleted lists, for example, drive me crazy in ecto2, as well as its wonky behavior when you try to edit a hyperlink.) So I’m happy to see that ecto3 has been released in alpha form, which means it’s straight out of the compiler and probably full of bugs, but usable anyway. I am using it to type this post and I just paused to make a screenshot:

Some initial reactions (which give me an opportunity to see how the bulleted lists fare this time):

  • The “Import Media” is nice — and potentially quite promising for uploading video on my local drive. I was never able to get one of the LaTeX screencasts to upload using ecto2. On the other hand, if you want to upload a movie or photo that is not in the “Pictures” or “Movies” folders — say, something from the desktop — then you have to go through a menu option of “Media Manager”, which is not only confusingly similar to “Import Media” but is also rather buried in the menu options under “Window”.
  • On the other hand — I can now actually drag the corner of an embedded picture to resize it. Thank you!
  • This might be a bug, but when I highlight some text (such as “LaTeX screencasts” above) and hit Command-U to insert a link, it inserts the link — but duplicates the text. When I tried it above I got “LaTeX screencastsLaTeX screencasts” with only the first copy of the text linked.
  • This is definitely a bug — when I enter in text to the final item in a bulleted list, the text jumps to the top of the article. Otherwise the bulleted lists feel much nicer.
  • Formerly in the sidebar, there was a switchable pane with the blog categories in one switchable area and my Technorati tags in another. Now they are combined in a single “Tags & Categories” list. I don’t like this at all. I have a lot of categories which are identically named with Technorati tags; sometimes I want to insert tags but not categories or vice versa. I’d very much like at least the option to have the ecto2-version switchable sidebar back.
  • Upon further looking, none of my blog categories are actually in this list. It’s just the Technorati tags. How do you get to the category list? Is that what the “keywords” blank above is for? Update: The program crashed (OK, it’s an alpha) and when I reopened, there were the categories again.
  • On the other hand, if you enter in a new tag, it no longer irritatingly fills the tag name in with the default of “puppy”. That’s the one thing about ecto2 that I actively hate. I don’t know how many posts I had to pull down and edit because cutesy “puppy” tag somehow made it in to the list of published Technorati tags.
  • The new rich text editor is really nice.
  • I’m optimistic that the plugin-based architecture will allow for better integration of the stuff I want to use. Frankly, I couldn’t care less if there’s Amazon.com functionality built in. I’d much rather like to have, for instance, a plugin that will compile LaTeX code.
  • It looks like you can nest bulleted lists, which is nice. In ecto2, the bullet list icon was just an on/off toggle.

The thing with text jumping to the top of the page at the end of a bulleted list was driving me crazy, so I will stop the list there. Suffice to say that the alpha of ecto3 seems to be a marked improvement over an already-pretty-good piece of software. And I do know that the ecto people are the most on-the-ball group of software developers out there — every time I’ve blogged about ecto, they comment here. So I have faith that bugs people point out are going to get fixed. Update: Also, ecto3 crashed twice in the process of posting; the time stamp is acting funny; and the “More” tag somehow got inserted at the bottom of the post. Like I said, it’s alpha and it’ll be full of bugs for a while.

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