Spinning a Better Web

More Stories in this Series

The best blogging tools for the Mac

Blogging for photographers

If all you want to do is share snapshots, you can use a photo-sharing site such as Flickr. But if you want to supplement those snaps with text, you’ll be better off with a photo-friendly blogging tool.

All the major blogging tools will let you show off your photos in a small blog. TypePad delivers a lot for mini-mal effort (see first screenshot). Its album-publishing tool lets you upload a zipped folder of images. The tool then opens the zipped file and puts the images into a folder that you name. It creates thumbnails of each image; you can then go in and add a caption to each photo. Unfortunately, even though Movable Type is related to TypePad, many of these features haven’t yet migrated to Movable Type (as of version 3.2, which was just released at press time).

Blogspot and Blogger aren’t there yet either. They let you upload a maximum of five images at a time (see second screenshot), and neither creates thumbnails. WordPress handles photos the same way it handles so much else: with a plug-in. There’s a wide variety of choices, so you’ll have to experiment and see which one works best for you.

Blogging tips and tricks

- Why can’t writing text for a Weblog be like writing text in a word processor? If you’d rather just choose styles, such as bold and italic, than remember tags, such as <strong> and <em>, you can—if your browser will let you. In OS X, you’ll need Firefox (see bottom screenshot). All the blogging apps mentioned here offer additional editing tools in Firefox that aren’t available in Safari (yet).

- TypePad puts some of its most useful functions in its sidebars, so be sure to check them out. You can create lists of sites, books, music, or photos and add them to your blog’s sidebar. You can also add a calendar of posts and other fun tidbits (such as your iChat status). And you do all this by filling in online forms—no HTML required.

- You don’t need your own domain name in order to host your own site with Movable Type or WordPress. But you do need an ISP or hosting company that gives you FTP access and the ability to run your own server-side applications. This leaves out .Mac users. If you want a blog on your .Mac account, check out iBlog, from Lifli Software.

- Want the convenience of hosting but also want to use your own domain name? TypePad’s two higher levels of service (Plus and Pro) let you do domain mapping—your site is on TypePad’s servers, but anyone can get to it by entering your domain name or surfing to your site. And I know some very technology-savvy people who have chosen TypePad because they don’t want to have to worry about regularly installing the latest software fixes—they’ve found that letting Six Apart deal with those headaches is worth the annual fee. If you modify the templates and use your own domain name, people might not even realize that you’re using TypePad.

- A personal license for two people to jointly author a single noncommercial Movable Type Weblog starts at $70. Instead of purchasing that license, consider the Six Apart Professional Network. It’s free to join, and it comes with a free commercial license.

[Dori Smith is a coauthor of the Backup Brain Weblog. She has been blogging since 1999.]

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