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OpenOffice as a blog writing tool

April 9, 2010

As my first contribution to the Tools That Work blog, why not present a tool to make the process of writing a blog post easier: the Sun Weblog Publisher for OpenOffice. I still prefer to write text in a word processor, with the best tools for spell-checking, the simplest ways to add links, and Zotero to manage references to sites and literature.

Uploading a post as draft to a blog

But then the text needs to go into the blog: copy-pasting creates endless battles with an online “WYSIWYG” (What You See Is What You Guess) editor, reformatting lists and headers, or losing carefully crafted sentences through browser hick-ups and poor form handling.

Editing the HTML itself isn’t fun either. OpenOffice produces poor HTML output, “Export as” even worse than “Save as”. An unappealing alternative: coding HTML in a text editor, adding things like by hand. I’ve looked at HTML editors that would let me focus on writing instead of coding. KompoZer (follow-up to Nvu) is nice for producing reasonable HTML, but yet another tool and not really supporting the writing process. And it then still is an effort to get the proper part of the HTML into the blog.

I also tried ScribeFire, which lets you write a blog post and interact with the blog software from within Firefox, but it offers no simple way for simple structural mark-up like a <H1> header. And, no support for references.

The Sun Weblog Publisher extension for OpenOffice seems to change the way I work: it adds a button to publish a document to a blog, using a variety of protocols to support different blog software, like WordPress. And another button lets you download existing posts from that blog, to edit them. The process of pushing a post into the blog has become a lot smoother.

Upload and download posts from a blog

There is still some online processing to do, like adding tags and minor HTML cleanup. And I’m not sure how well it will handle images or complex layouts. But writing a post and pushing it into the blog has become a lot easier!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2010 4:40 pm

    I haven’t tried open office or this new program yet, but I’m definitely looking for a better option than WordPress’ post editor.

    When I first started blogging, I used MS Word until I realized how much it messes up HTML code and all of the junk it adds.

    Even copying and pasting from Notepad results in a formatting mess which is odd.

  2. June 28, 2010 4:11 pm

    I’m with you Jay… I have had numerous problems copying/pasting out of rich text editors like word.

    Now, I just use UltraEdit text editor and code the HTML by hand. It’s really a lot faster than using the online WYSIWYG editors.

  3. June 29, 2010 1:52 pm

    Hi Jay, Andy, I still regularly have to deal with the rubbish HTML from Word, and had my problems with the OpenOffice HTML too. But the idea of coding (writing?) in HTML is about as much fun as wrestling with Latex 🙂

    Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to see the Weblog Publisher extension actually produces pretty clean HTML, and lets me focus on writing rather than coding. And just doing a last check of the HTML once I uploaded it to the blog.

  4. rdke15 permalink
    July 18, 2010 6:11 pm

    Yes, there just aren’t any good modern writing tools. Word or OpenOffice are intended for printing (and even suck as word processors for printing). They produce terrible HTML. HTML writing tools can produce clean HTML, but are intended for web designers/coders and as a result have a cluttered and awkward interface for plain writing.

    Currently, from what I tried, I found Amaya quite nice, even if it also has it’s bugs and quirks. It’s what I use for now. It comes with a few style sheets and let’s you easily replace or override them with your own.

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