Text Tagger

Over the past few years, two of the biggest trends in online communication have been weblogs (a.k.a., “blogs”) and forums. Whether posting to their own blogs or participating in Web-based forums, people love to submit their opinions for the world to see.

Early forums supported only plain text, but today’s forums and blogs allow complex formatting, links, and other options. The problem is that unlike a word processor, where you simply highlight text and click a button—bold, italics, etc.—to format it, in most forums and most blog software you need to type in the appropriate code, usually either HTML or forum-specific tags, before posting. There are exceptions, of course, and some forum software uses JavaScript to let you format text, but I’ve often had the need for an easy way to perform these functions system-wide.

To make this process easier, I’ve been using the helpful (and free) menu bar utility BlogAssist 1.1.1 (   ). You simply copy some text to the clipboard and then choose the appropriate item in the system-wide Blog Assist menu to “tag” that text. For example, to put HTML bold tags around text, you copy the text, select Bold from the BlogAssist menu, then paste the newly tagged text. (In a perfect world, BlogAssist would let you highlight text and then choose the appropriate menu item, automatically replacing the text with the tagged version; that feature is certainly on my wish list.)

BlogAssist menu

The standard items in the BlogAssist menu include HTML links, LiveJournal (blogging) tags, and HTML formatting tags. (The HTML link tags alone save me quite a bit of time each day; I simply copy a URL to the clipboard, select Web Link , and then paste wherever I want to include a link—say, in a Mac Gems column. The result is an HTML link just waiting for me to provide the link text.) Here are examples of what BlogAssist does to the text “sampletext” when you apply some of these menu items to it:

link sampletext sampletext sampletext sampletext

sampletext
  • sampletext

 

Although these formatting options are useful, you can use the Edit Operations item to edit the existing options or even to add new ones. In the screenshot above, you can see three such items that I’ve added: Forums Bold , Forums Italics , and Forums Quote . These items apply the respective tags used by many Web forums— [b][/b] , [i][/i] , and [quote][/quote] —to clipboard text.

BlogAssist editor

(The text {value} will be replaced by the contents of the clipboard when you choose that item from the BlogAssist menu.)

If you use WYSIWYG blogging software, or don’t often format forum postings, BlogAssist probably won’t interest you. But between writing Macworld.com columns, working with HTML, and posting in the Macworld forums, I've found BlogAssist to be invaluable in my daily work—it’s saved me a lot of time and typing.

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