A few months ago I begged the open source community and backers of the Digital Public Library of America to give high priority to a FLOSS blog editor as good as Microsoft’s Windows Live Writer. No such luck despite all the DPLA’s rhetoric about the need for “generativity.”
This is painful. It’s the main reason why I am now spending a good part of my time in Windows rather than Ubuntu (second screen shot), which I prefer for its greater stability and other attributes. Live Writer is obnoxiously Wine-proof.
I thought I could wipe Windows off my main system and stick with Ubuntu. But I’ve been forced to revert, simply in the interest of sheer productivity. My needs are different from those of the programmers and other hardcore techies. One famous coder recently said he doesn’t worry that much about aesthetics but people still read him. Well, yes. But how about the rest of us?
Look, in Live Writer terms, it isn’t as if I’m asking for so much. I’d simply like to be able to copy a photo from a Web browser like Firefox and effortlessly paste it into the editor with which I compose for WordPress.
I also want to be able to resize the photo by clicking and stretching or shrinking. And I’d like precise control, in all four directions, over the distance between the photo and the surrounding text. In every respect, the editor should be as easy to use as Live Writer and come with features such as a nice spell checker. I’d rather focus on the actual writing than the tech-related details.
One possibility would be to build such an editor into LibreOffice, whose Writer I use constantly. Another would design it as multi-platform, multi-browser plug-in, while yet another would be a standalone program—maybe even an editor-browser combination
Developers—or sources of assistance from developers? In addition to the usual open source community, I’m curious if Canonical, the people behind Ubuntu, would actually care about helping out in one way or another. What better way to spread word about Ubuntu and other open alternatives than to make it easier to blog about them? I’ll write both Canonical and the Document Foundation.
As long as the open-source community doesn’t care sufficiently about crucial applications like a Windows Live equivalent, will “open” really catch on for writers and others beyond the usual techie circles?
Detail: Within the DPLA, people are considering an authoring tool to work with or within a summer reading program, but I don’t think a sophisticated blog editor is what they have in mind. Perhaps this can change. Come, Canonical. You’re big enough to develop or pay others to give us a decent Live Writer equivalent. Whoever develops it, I’d be happy to be the first beta tester and maybe even provide feedback for the alpha.