Ecto is evolution done right (Updated)

I added my quibbles with this initial release of Ecto. Ecto is what Kung-Log used to be. And it is no longer in beta testing! Ecto has gone through a great private and public beta, progressing every step in the way. Not only that, but there are some great changes that just appeared here in the final release. I really liked Kung-Log, and Ecto is a huge upgrade. I love the new UI of ecto! Take a look at other screen shots at the Kula site. I still prefer ecto over NetNewsWire (NNW) and it is because of the UI. Ecto has one tabbed interface for all the main fields: body, extended body, summery, and keywords. With NNW you have to click a "More Options" button to get to more then the main body. In the beginning NNW did not have a customizable HTML menu, it does now. But in ecto you can assign keyboard shortcuts (such a nice feature). The biggest interface change in ecto is the Entries and Drafts window. In Kung-Log this was handled in a shelf, now it is a full window, allowing you to sort, search and even delete entries (as well as delete them off of the server). HTML syntax coloring has been redone completely. In Kung-Log there was only the choice to have all the HTML code in one color, now you can define colors for the tags, attributes, and brackets. This is great if you are used to using Dreamweaver and BBEdit as much as I am. There is now a robust Account Setup window, with an account setup "wizard" that is loads better then how it was handled in Kung-Log. The preview window is also grown up. It has its own toolbar and uses WebKit (Safari) to render the page. You can even set it to load the CSS from the blog, and make the font bigger or smaller - great for late night blogging! Check out the ecto site to see all the new features, and download a time limited demo. It is rare that an application goes through this much change between releases, and it is just wonderful when it happens. I do have some small complaints. Nothing is perfect after all. I have emailed the developer, Adriaan though, and these things will be changed in the next version, or are things that are being considered for a future version. In Kung-Log and in the Ecto betas the blog selecting was done with a drop down menu, so it was clear as to what blog you have selected. In the Ecto final it is now a button in the toolbar, and you get a submenu to select the active blog. I like this better, but now there is no way to know what blog is the active one. Sure you could look at the categories, but what if you are posting to the same blog from multiple users. It no longer says anywhere in the UI what the active blog is. Ecto 1.0.1 will have current account and blog name in the title bar. Another thing that was changed right before the final release was the status for "publish" and "draft" in the Entries and Drafts window. It was just text before, but now there are status is denoted by icons. I don't think the black and white icons are different enough, and I suggested different colors, such as green and red, or green and orange. I hope this is considered. Those two things are small potatoes though. My largest beef with the app is selecting a primary, and then secondary categories. This is not as important on my site, but it is very important what posting to BlogCritics. There is no way to select a primary category, and the secondary category(s). No outright way, that is. I found out how the primary category is set, and that Adriaan is looking for a better way to handle setting the primary category. To set the primary category: From the checked categories, make the primary category the selected category (i.e. select that row). Thanks for that info Adriaan! It sure is annoying to have to switch primary and secondary categories in the MT admin, and now I know. I hope a better solution is implemented soon. Another thing I wished for in the final was to see the keyboard shortcuts in the HTML button in the toolbar. You can see the user configurable keyboard shortcuts in the Edit > Insert HTML menu, but this is not where I go to insert HTML, I use the toolbar button. These keyboard shortcuts were in the Kung-Log HTML toolbar button, but they are gone in Ecto. This is something else Adriaan says he is looking into a better way. He says: "there's a bug in Panther/Jaguar that won't apply menu formatting to keyboard shortcuts. So, if I'd add a shortcut to the popup menu, it would be in 12 pt, whereas the menu item title is in 10pt. Crazy." For now you will just have to memorize your keyboard shortcuts for now, or use the Insert HTML menu. Regardless of these small issues, don't think I don't love this app. I just had another idea. On the Advanced tab you can change the creation date. I wish there was a "Now" button there to set the time to now (current time). This would be great when I want to update a post and want it to show up at the top of the page. Since I donated in the past, I got 25% off the price, $4. I don't think the $17.95 price is bad, but I would have been more inclined to buy at $13.95, (which was what I payed because of my previous donation) but thats just me. However after using this app for so long, it is worth the $18 fee. I recommend this over NNW, mainly because of the user interface changes. Of course the price of NNW is also an issue, $40. I just use the free NNW Lite, and ecto to post to blogs. Be sure to read the comments on this post over at BlogCritics.

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