My New Blogging Tool: Byword

In About Writing by Daniel M. ClarkLeave a Comment

As usual, I jumped in without thinking.

I’m a sucker for new tools. When I hear about a new bit of software that sounds interesting, you can bet I’ll drop whatever I’m doing to learn more. This time, it’s Byword 2.

Just give me a tool!

The best thing for a writer is to keep writing; I’ve been told that quite a lot. Move the fingers. Get it down on paper[1]. To that end, I’ve decided to make blogging a regular thing again. No big deal. Nothing to which I expect a huge audience to flock. Just something to keep my fingers moving.

I need a new tool, I thought, considering my idea. I knew there was Mac software available for bloggers. Ecto, MarsEdit and Adobe Contribute were three that I tried years and years ago, before I really got into podcasting. With podcasting, the choice was simple: WordPress web interface. Nothing beats it. For writing though, I wanted something more. Something that I could write in that would publish directly to WordPress.

Ecto hasn’t been updated since I used it all those years ago, so I ruled it out. I was not much of a fan to begin with, and it’s lacking in modern features. MarsEdit is strong, but after downloading a trial, I discovered it’s rather uncomfortable to use[2]. Adobe Contribute is a $99 upgrade (I last owned CS3, and it is several versions ahead of that now), so that’s out. I’m not spending $99 just to avoid using the WordPress web interface.

Then I came across a reference to Byword. It was highly recommended, and it had that one feature that I was looking for: the ability to publish directly to WordPress. For an extra charge. Dammit. The software is ten bucks, and it’s another five to unlock the ability to publish to the web. Fifteen altogether isn’t a bad price though… if only there were a trial version. That, I told myself, was a deal breaker.

As usual, I jumped in without thinking.

It’s always something. This time, it was the footnotes. I was reading up on Markdown, which is what Byword edits, and I became more and more intrigued. John Gruber’s article[3] got me thinking that this might be a great way to write for the web. I checked out the syntax guide that Byword provides.

Then I saw a reference to MultiMarkdown. Cross-references! Tables! Custom attributes! Footnotes! I love footnotes[4]! And that’s what got me. As soon as I saw how easy it was to insert complicated formatting, I went straight to the Mac App Store and hit the Buy button.

Have I mentioned yet that I’m a Scrivener user? That I’ve been working on my short stories and novels[5] completely in Scrivener? Have I mentioned yet that Scrivener handles MultiMarkdown?

Yeah. I had the tool all along. Well, sort of. Scrivener can’t publish directly to my blog. The $15 I spent wasn’t completely wasted, so… yay?

This post was written in Byword. I quite enjoyed it and the learning curve was gentle. It doesn’t handle image uploads, which isn’t good, but a future update may address that. Your milage may vary, but if you’ve got $15, I can think of worse ways to spend it.

It’ll do… until I come across another tool that catches my attention.

  1. I rather wonder when that phrase will die off, but “get it down on a hard drive” doesn’t have the same ring.  ↩
  2. I know it would get better as I used it, but I don’t have the patience. Sorry, MarsEdit.  ↩
  3. I know it’s old. I’m not pretending it’s new. Yeah, I somehow missed it all these years. I just… erm… shut up.  ↩
  4. Obviously.  ↩
  5. There are five in various states of production. More about these in a forthcoming post.  ↩

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