Fun with Blogging Tools

There’s only one thing I know about carpentry and construction: pick the right tool for the job and know how to use it. The same lesson applies to many other kinds of work and I’ve tried to apply it in how I blog and work on the web in general.

Having the right tool is about more than getting a job done efficiently. Tools can be beautiful, elegant and in some cases works of art in themselves. The U.S. Constitution might not command the same respect if it were written with a ball point pen. Chefs prize their knives and take great care in their maintenance. What tool we use to get a job done makes a difference to our entire experience of the task.

Down to brass tacks: here are the tools that I use in publishing this blog:

MacBook Pro

The macintosh computer has been my favorite tool almost since it was created. If you’re a mac person then you know that the experience of using one of these computers becomes part of how you interact with the digital world that you would never be willing to replace with another kind of machine. Apple was built on the idea that computers should be easy and even enjoyable to use and create as little friction as possible in people’s lives. For the most part they’ve lived up to that promise and the Macbook Pro may be the best computer I’ve used.

WordPress

More of a platform than a tool, although it has many tools built in.

MarsEdit

A blogging application for Mac. Marsedit is the only tool of its kind that I’ve used, but it’s never given me a reason to look elsewhere. It handles multiple blogs on several platforms (now including Tumblr) and its clean interface stays out of my way. Writing text, uploading and embedding images, saving drafts, previewing posts – that’s about all I’ve needed to do and MarsEdit handles the task admirably.

Textmate

The best text editor I’ve ever used and perhaps my favorite application of any kind. Powerful, flexible, elegant – everything you want a text editor to be. What makes Textmate so good? First of all it’s amazingly fast and responsive, which I put down to smart coding on the part of its sole programmer Allan Odgaard. Second, this app has functionality to burn thanks to its plugin architecture which makes it possible to add commands, snippets and shortcuts. Subversion support, commands and syntax coloring for every known language, tag completion, and on and on and on. My favorite new command: look up a selection in Google and then wrap the selection in a link that points to the top result, automatically populating the title attribute with the page title. Brilliant. I use Textmate in tandem with MarsEdit using the system wide “Edit in Textmate” command which Textmate will install for you. MarsEdit for blog access and posting, Textmate for writing.

These tools are not just necessary items that help me to get things done, they are sources of pleasure in their own right. Goals are great and some tasks need to be completed, but if you enjoy the process of getting there it all becomes much easier. Using the best tool for the job, the one that feels right, can make it happen.

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