June 24, 2007

MacJournal Frustrations

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Mariner Software, the publishers of MacJournal, have a great reputation. Many people love MacJournal. It’s highly recommended as desktop journaling and blogging software. A friend of my tried it and love it, so I bought it. According to the reviews I had read, MJ works with popular blogging software including WordPress. Sounded like a great way to have a local backup of the posts and be able to write drafts offline.

I have spent approximately six hours trying to get this software to work with my WordPress blog. I’ve read all over the net and have yet to find a comprehensive set of instructions for configuring a WP blog to work with MacJournal. Basically, the user manual included with the software suggests letting MacJournal auto-detect the blog settings. This is great if you are using a blog hosted at LiveJournal. Works like a charm.

Unfortunately, if you are using WordPress, no concrete information is available in the documentation. Other people on the Mariner Software support forums have said that they were able to get their WP blog to work with MJ without a problem. So what am I doing wrong?!

For me, this lack of information makes the user documentation useless and frustrating. I’m a professional technical writer. I want MEAT in the manual! Give me good procedures, an index, cross-references, and explanations of the more confusing dialogs (like the settings screens… okay, does user mean blog account or FTP account?). A pretty manual is nice, but eye-candy doesn’t resolve issues.

After searching through Mariner’s support forums, I found a few isolated pieces of information. Depending upon which post you read, WordPress blogs should choose Moveable Type, Atom, or Blogger as the blog type. I went through everything to find information.

Another pet peeve with this program: no option to be able to list all configured blogs and edit them. My configuration files are pretty messy because I’ve had to keep trying different settings. It is driving me nuts. It would be nice to be able to choose which blog to post an entry to. I might have one local journal that contains posts I might want on LiveJournal and WordPress. Can’t do it — at least not that I’ve been able to find.

I can not download posts from here using MacJournal: nebulous “an unknown communication error has occurred.” Great. Useful information that. I can not post either — I have crashed the program multiple times. None of the setting options I’ve tried have worked.

I tried to post a message in the forum explaining what was happening. I signed up and discovered that accounts are inactive until an admin approves the post. Great. I hate stuff like that. It might be done to control spam, but it means that I can’t post the issues I’m having until later tomorrow night when I’m home from work. (Part of why I’m ranting here.)

So I wrote Mariner Support (see letter below). I have a lot of ideas on how they might be able to improve the MacJournal documentation… and I’d be happy to help.

As it stands right now, I consider my purchase of MacJournal to have been wasted. What is the point of having a piece of software that you can’t use with the primary software? Especially when the software was purchased based upon its (alleged) ability to post to WordPress blogs.

Dear MacJournal Support,

I purchased MacJournal 4.1 from CompUSA about a month ago and upgraded to the new 4.1.2 version recently released. MacJournal quickly found my LiveJournal page. Excellent. Most pleased.

Horrible problems with my WordPress 2.1.2 site. My primary blog is on my own domain, ceffyl.net/wordpress. No matter how I configured MacJournal I can not get it to connect to my WordPress site. In the current settings:
Blog type is set to MoveableType
URL: http://ceffyl.net/wordpress
post URL: (name).php
user: (WP username)

Every time I try to connect and download posts, I receive an error message of unable to connect to the remote server for an unknown reason. (My network connection is enabled, the blog is online, and my FTP program can connect without any problems.) WP is configured to allow uploades; the permissions the upload URL are set to 757. I have not tried using the FTP settings.

I’m stumped. I’ve spent several hours trying to find the settings for WordPress on MacJournal. I have found scattered information in the forums.

One question and two suggestions:

Question: What do I need to do to correct the settings so I can connect to my WP site?

Suggestions:

1. Better documentation that includes an explanation of the screen with the settings along with examples for configuring the major supported blogging platforms which are not listed in the Blog-type drop-down box, including WordPress.

2. More descriptive error messages that might provide a clue to the user on what exactly was going wrong.

I would be happy to provide additional suggestions for the user documentation for WordPress. While the manual is a good start, it could contain a lot more data. (I’d also be happy to help with it — my day job is a professional technical writer.)

Looking forward to hearing something soon. I really like MacJournal but I’m very frustrated with it currently.

Thank you.

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