Thursday, 19 May 2011

MarsEdit for Mac OS X [an in-testing review] First Impressions

I am not keen on paying for software, in fact my company is founded on the belief that the best computing experience for the average user is based on the least expense possible.

Most people do not require paid for software, which is why when it comes to blogging I recommend all my customer's use Microsoft's very FREE Windows Live! Writer, which i have mentioned many times on this blog before and is generally accepted by most bloggers as the worlds best software for blogging.

However I use Mac OS X more and more these days and trying to find a good app/program for blogging on the Mac is not an easy task.

I have briefly tried Red-Sweater's MarsEdit in the past and the results were not good; I was new to OS X back then.  Now, nearly a year on I am much more conversant with the delights of Apple's OS X and after reading Luke188's brief review of MarsEdit I have decided to give it another shot.

First Impressions

I have to be honest, MarsEdit does not come close to Windows Live! Writer in stakes of appearance or functionality.  It is a boring application to look at and nothing seems 'obvious'.  Maybe this is because I am so very used to Microsoft's product and my view is tainted?

I prefer WLW's page presentation.  When creating a post in WLW I can see as I type exactly how the finished article will look.  With MarsEdit I am typing black text onto a white background and that is it.

Setting MarsEdit up for use with DieselTekk was simple though, as Luke explains in his article...

"The setup was extremely easy and fast, once I entered the URL to my blog and my account details, I was in. It couldn’t have been more simpler."

So setup was simple, and creating a new post is simple (just click on the New Post icon in the toolbar).  However I missed somehting here... after clicking on the New Post icon i was presented with the option to create the post in Rich Text or HTML.  I have not yet found a method to change from my current option (Rich Text) to HTML.

Inserting a image is a simple procedure; select Media from the toolbar and navigate to the picture (or other file) of your choosing, make some choices regarding size, alignment, ALT Text etc and thats about it.

My son, Tristan, a few years agoMedia options (or rather more specifically image options) are severely lacking.  I can not as yet find a means of adding a watermark, adjusting paddings, tilt's, reflections or any of the other fun stuff I am used to being able to do with images within Windows Live! Writer.

The image shown here (to the left) of my son could be made so much more interesting with WLW but MarsEdit seems to think either it is fine as it is, or if I want to edit the image in anyway then I am happy to do it in another program.  MarsEdit, you are wrong.

Over all I am less than impressed with MarsEdit and I don't think it is because I have been spoiled by the likes of Windows Live! Writer; I think it is because other than offline creation and editing of posts it offers nothing that my blog's control panel offers already.  While Blogger is not the most powerful of blogging platforms, the online post editor presents me with all the same options as MarsEdit and more, such as the insertion of Amazon Ad's (not that I use them).


So I conclude at this point it time (although I shall continue to use the demo of MarsEdit for a few more posts yet) that MarsEdit offers nothing over Windows Live! Writer from Microsoft other than being a Apple Mac OS X native app that seems to integrate well with the operating system.
I would very much love to see Microsoft release Windows Live! Writer on the Mac, so please Baulmer et al, please!

Oh and one last note, one which is very important and might somewhat explain away my cynicism regarding MarsEdit - MarsEdit costs £23.99 in the App Store.  Microsoft's product is free.  If I am to pay for an app on the Mac that is not nearly as good as a FREE app on Windows then it needs to be a pretty special piece of kit.  MarsEdit needs to impress.  Right now, it does not.


  1.  Thanks for taking the time to try MarsEdit and to write up your reactions. I know there is lots of room for improvement, especially when it comes to managing images in your posts.

    One of the reasons that Windows Live Writer (a great app!) can be as well-featured as it is, while still being free, is that for whatever reason Microsoft chose to make a strategic decision to invest money in having a whole team of engineers, designers, etc. working on the product, over the course of at least a couple years.

    MarsEdit is developed by - just me. There are pluses and minuses: Microsoft is not likely to pop in and comment on random posts about their products on the web ;) But on the minus side for customers is that I do need to make a living doing this, and don't have Microsoft to foot the bill.

    Hope that helps explain some of the feature shortcomings and the fact that I need to charge for the software. I am constantly working to improve the app, so if it doesn't fit the bill now, I hope you'll come back and give another look in the future!

    Daniel Jalkut
    Founder, Red Sweater Software

  2. Thank you Daniel for taking the time out to review my article on your product.

    I appreciate your views and have now taken them into account.

    I am glad to know that you hold Windows Live! Writer in high regard and this gives me high hopes for the future of MarsEdit, which while still lacking some of the features that make WLW great, does show some good potential.

    I know that my conclusion was rather harsh; coming from many years of using WLW makes it difficult to judge it otherwise at this point in time, however I do intend to continue using MarsEdit for a few more posts until I have given it a good chance.

    This review was of my first impressions ONLY.

    In my opinion MarsEdit needs just one feature to make it comparable to WLW and that is the aforementioned image adjustment capabilities.
    Simple adjustments such as border-padding, opening the image in another window/tab and watermarking are important to me and I would much rather not have to make these adjustments outside of my blogging software.

    As for charging, I do not think that you should go without reward for your efforts; I could not contemplate the work you have put into MarsEdit and thus you should receive payment for those efforts. I believe however that at this current moment in time MarsEdit is overpriced for what it does and that makes it difficult for me to recommend.
    Surely by making the price more accessible (lower) you would sell more and thus have greater resources to put into the development of the app?

    At this point in time I would happily pay up to £10 for MarsEdit if:
    1- I was assured that development will continue
    2- I knew that the features I want from the program will be included in future updates

    However £23.99 puts MarsEdit out of my price-band on the basis that Blogging is a distraction for me, not a source of income. When it comes to paying for a product I need to know that there will be a return on my investment!

  3. Thanks again for your specific feedback about how you'd like the image workflow to work.

    And as for pricing, I appreciate that the price is too high for you, however, if I lowered it to £10 I don't believe I would continue making enough to support my family. This is somewhat from experience as the price has been lower in the past (though not as low as £10).

    I encourage all of my customers to purchase only if the product is worth it for them *today*. I would never encourage any customer to invest in the product on the hope that it would change in the future in a way that makes it worth the investment only then.

    I appreciate that it may not be worth the $40 for you today. Needless to say, for many, many people, it is :) I can only hope to change the software going forward so that it feels like a value to you in the future.



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