iWeb versus Real Blogging Tools

In my first shot at blogging I used Nucleus. It was available for free on my website (BlueHost), and installing it was a matter of pushing a button. It’s pretty cool, but the learning curve is fierce. “Content management” is different from “website design.” The stuff is all the same, but the jargon is completely different. Finding the controls to do what you want to do is fiendishly difficult, and the Nucleus documentation was … well, let’s be positive. It could use a lot of improvement.

I put Nucleus up on a new domain I acquired specifically for blogging, and after a few minor fixes (and a lot of code reading to figure out how to actually customize the site), I finally had the blog running. I’ve used it to rant about politics, and to record our two-week visit to Marta’s family in Colombia, South America. It’s a good system.

I’ve also briefly tried WordPress, which is awesome. It provides a serious blogger’s full toolkit, including the ability to pre-publish a site to editors and have them beat the crap out of you for split infinitives. I think you need to find your own editors, unfortunately. But still…. Awesome!

And then I’ve tried Apple’s iWeb.  Just a toy, really. Nothing to write home about.

Of course, it’s the tool I’m using here.

I should point out before I go one word further that I’ve done plenty of deep coding. I’ve written Windows NT and Unix device drivers. I’ve written and deployed embedded multi-tasking operating systems, twice (proprietary, for two different companies, so I couldn’t share code). I’ve rewritten graphics libraries. I’ve built and maintained multi-lingual active-server websites, and I wrote an entire eBusiness site complete with secure credit card capture and encrypted data delivery — including the RSA algorithms on both server and client sides, since at the time, everyone wanted to charge big money for something that didn’t seem that difficult to write myself. I’ve developed planetary orbital simulations in PHP, and written computer games in APL (anyone remember that language? They say God created the world with four lines of APL, then lost the comments….)

My point is that computer code doesn’t scare me. It annoys me.

When I bought my first-ever Mac last October, I decided I would approach it as a user, not as a geek or a developer. I bought it to write music, and whatever else struck my fancy using the best applications that fit in the budget. The LAST thing I wanted to do was debug irretrievably bad code. I wanted the thing that Apple prides itself on, which is intuitive ease-of-use.

So far, I’ve been impressed, and as you might imagine, that takes a bit.

So back to iWeb. It’s a toy, really. So many constraints. So many restrictions. So many things it just can’t do.

I love it.

WordPress kneecaps you the first time you try to post music. You have to hunt around to discover that the “space” you need for MP3 files requires a “premium” plan for which you have to pay money. I don’t know how much, but the whole process alienated me.

Both WordPress and Nucleus are very PC-centric. If you want to incorporate music or graphics in your blogs, you have to search around on your hard drive for the appropriate files, and then “include” them. This sometimes involves resizing, resampling, and all kinds of adjustments to get things right.

With iWeb, I drag-and-drop. I’ve been having tremendous fun writing blogs in conjunction with Google images. Let’s say I want to write about Komodo Dragons. I pull up Google Images and type in “komodo dragons” — ooh, cool picture! I drag it off the Google page and drop it into my text. I resize it with the mouse, then pull up the “Inspector” window to force text wrap to the left or to the right (notice how they alternate on the page?) Then I hit the “Publish” button and you all get to read my witty words about Komodo Dragons.

Publishing music or photos is just as easy. Drag-and-drop. iTunes and iPhoto and iMovie browsers are built right into iWeb, so it’s easy to find things.

I may someday graduate to WordPress. It truly impressed me for the hour or so I played with it. But until I grow up, I’m going to stick with iWeb.

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