November 10, 2006

Blogging made easy with Drivel

Author: Shashank Sharma

Most bloggers use a browser to log in and post new entries. The Drivel Journal Editor is designed for those who consider using a browser too tedious when making new blog entries. Designed for GNOME, Drivel can work with Blogger, LiveJournal, MovableType, WordPress, and other popular journaling tools. Despite an elegant yet simple interface, Drivel packs in some very useful features, such as an integrated spellcheker, HTML syntax highlighting, and the ability to edit and update past entries.

Released under the GNU General Public License (GPL), Drivel can significantly reduce the number of mouse clicks you would normally make to post a new entry to your blog. While this alone might not be reason enough to install and learn a new application, Drivel is well-suited for people with slow Internet connection speeds. Drivel can save the bandwidth that is otherwise spent on loading a blog's "post" page and all the icons of the post editor.

To install Drivel, use yum or apt-get for Fedora- or Debian-based systems. Compressed tarballs are also available, with detailed installation instructions, if you wish to compile from source. The tarball also includes a directory that contains all of the program's Portable Object files, which contain original program strings and translated strings. With the po files and some knowledge of localizing applications, you can easily translate Drivel into different languages. It already supports more than 14 languages, including Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, German, and Dutch.

Making a blog entry

I run WordPress on my blog. Though WordPress is not listed as one of Drivel's supported journaling applications, you can use it anyway if you specify MovableType as the Journal Type. Write the complete address of your blog in Server address; my blog is located at http://www.linuxlala.net/thoughts. But there's a catch. To use Drivel on WordPress, you need to write the server address as http://www.linuxlala.net/thoughts/xmlrpc.php. The xmlrpc.php at the end is required for Drivel to work with WordPress.

Click to enlarge

Drivel lets you work offline. It will store your entry as a draft that you can post later to your blog. Once you are logged in, you can access any of the past entries from Journal -> Recent Entries. On selecting an old entry, an Update button appears at the bottom.

You can select a category for an entry from a dropdown list if you click on Show more options. For a WordPress blog, only the categories get listed, but if you use any other supported blogging software, chances are you'll see some other options as well. For instance, the turn off comments option is available for LiveJournal users. In fact, Drivel boasts of supporting the entire LiveJournal feature set, including mood and friends.

Drivel's editor also supports keyboard shortcuts for common HTML tags. That is, if you select some text and press Ctrl-b, Drivel would put bold tags around it. Similarly, Ctrl-i opens up italic tags.

By default, Drivel's "highlight spelling errors" feature is disabled. You can enable it by pressing F7 or from the menu with View -> Highlight Spelling Errors. When you make a spelling mistake, Drivel will point it out and offer possible suggestions for the correct word.

Besides basic HTML formatting, the Format menu can be used to insert a list into your blog post. indent opens up blockquote tags. If your blogging software allows you to conduct polls, Drivel can help you create one. Format -> Insert Poll opens up a separate window where you can select the type of poll (multiple choice, radio buttons, dropdown, etc.) and other options such as who can participate in the poll.

The only downside of using Drivel (and other tools in this category, such as gnome-blog and BloGTK) is that you can't choose multiple categories for a blog entry.

Shashank Sharma is studying for a degree in computer science. He specializes in writing about free and open source software for new users.

Click Here!