EdTech, WordPress

4 Alternative Blogging Interfaces for WordPress

I’ve been a WordPress user since the b2 days, but only lately have I begun to explore different methods of posting content to a WordPress blog. In the past, I have used the standard web interface for creating posts, with the occasional foray into using the FireFox ScribeFire plugin (more on that in just a moment).

Why alternatives? Well, it’s not that I think the standard WordPress interface is bad or poorly designed – far from it. But I am looking at alternative, streamlined ways of getting content into a site that may be more familiar to non-WordPress users.

Over the past few days I’ve been playing with alternative ways to publish content to a WordPress site, and here are 4 that I have come up with.

Using Word 2007
I really like this method, not because it is the best tool in this list, but because it is the most familiar interface for the faculty I support. Everyone is comfortable using Word and, while it won’t give you all the functionality of the web interface, it gets the job done with some nice functions in an interface that users are familiar with.

Setup is easy and straightforward and you can insert text, links tables and images, including WordArt, Symbols, Shapes and SmartArt. Blog management and organizational options are pretty minimal, but include the ability to post as a draft, and choose an existing blog category for the post. You can also open previous posts from your blog to edit.

A lack of headings in the toolbar is a frustration I have with the interface, and the reason why the subheadings for this post are appearing as 14 POINT (???) headings and not h3 tags as I would prefer. Microsoft has instead decided to put bigger and smaller buttons on the interface. This is something Microsoft has done with other html editors I’ve come across (yeah SharePoint, I’m looking at you) and it is an annoyance I find maddening. Not only is this semantically incorrect (let me make a heading a heading and a paragraph a paragraph please), but it also overrides the set CSS in the WordPress themes. It would be far better if they just left the text options as standard html tags, which would be semantically correct and would also ensure consistency in design.

That said, in terms of something my faculty will find easy to use, the Word interface seems like an early winner. And anything that helps people move away from posting links to their Word documents and posting in html is a winner with me.

By Email

Another familiar interface for my users, you can post to a WordPress blog from any email client. While this does require a bit more technical work to initially set up, you again get a composing environment that is really user friendly and familiar, especially for the slightly technophobic faculty.

This is bare bones in terms of functionality. The subject line will be used as the title of the post with the body of the email as the content of the post. All html in the email will be stripped out, and it does not support uploading attachments or images. You also cannot choose what category you want your post to appear in with the post appearing in whatever the blog default category is. This does not have the functionality of Posterous, but in terms of getting content onto the web quick and painlessly, it’s a fine alternative.

ScribeFire

ScribeFire is a FireFox plugin that lets you post to your blog from within FireFox. This is a full featured alternative to the native web interface that has tons of features. I’ve used this in the past and, while I like it, I have found that the formatting sometimes goes a bit wonky when the post is published and the post doesn’t always look like I would expect it to with the underlying html code getting rewritten. Still, you can pretty well do anything with this tool that you can with the WordPress interface. It’s handy when you come across something on the web that you want to blog about quickly, or if you have no eb access but still want to compose a post to publish when you reconnect.

Google Docs

Cole Camplese sent me scurrying down this path a few days ago when he tweeted a test post (which looks like it has since been deleted). So I gave it a shot and found out that you can post directly to WordPress from Google Docs. In the example from a few days ago, I included an image pulled from my Flickr account and a drawing done in Google Docs. Connecting was pretty straightforward, however there was no specific WordPress API hook. Instead, I used the Moveable Type API, which connected, but may explain why when I posted the post showed up on the blog sans title.

Have you used any of these tools? Are there any other ways to create content outside of the WordPress user interface? If so, I’d love it if you let me know.

CC BY 4.0 4 Alternative Blogging Interfaces for WordPress by Clint Lalonde is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Profile Picture for Clint Lalonde
Wrangler of learning technologies by day, Dad, cyclist, soccer fan and, lately, home roaster of coffee by night. INFJ. I am the Manager of Educational Technologies at BCcampus, working primarily on open education projects. This blog is a personal blog and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BCcampus.

Comments

  1. Interesting thoughts Clint. To be honest though, with the exception of email and Word, these methods have the user in the browser already and, as such, the WP interface would be the most elegant solution.

    There are also ways of posting the daily Delicious bookmarks to any blog, and I'm wondering if Posterous integration is something we'll see. Frankly the ways of having one social tool show up in another stream is starting to make me cross-eyed.

    With regard to Word, the blog post will likely need to be cleaned up and tagged or categorized later, while the email really comes into its own if you're doing mobile blogging. If WP would develop a really good smartphone app, then you'd have something.

    I also think about ways people can post from other apps to their WP blogs, but so far as your post alludes to, the options aren't all that great.

  2. thanks for the linking to my article on blogging with word 2007!

    just wanted to give you a tip. publishing straight from word actually causes a mess of html formatting to occur. the best way to do it is write the article in word first. then copy the entire thing. go to your wordpress in the browser. in the text field there's the advance dropdown for the mce editor. in that there's a button called "paste from word". click on that and paste what you copied into that special box. once you do it strips all the junk that word would have thrown in.

    hope that helps!

    1. Thanks for that. I do need to test Word out a bit more, but I have to
      say my first post using Word turned out pretty clean. I was expecting
      a lot of puff code, but none of that came out. But, as I stated in my
      response to James above, I didn't do a lot of text formatting or try
      things other than insert links into the body of the post. I may find
      the code isn't so clean when I start pushing Word a bit.

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