Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Four Chrome Tools for Bloggers


English: Chrome Web Store iconImage via WikipediaI write this post advisedly, knowing that each blogger has a different style, different needs, and different tolerance for different gizmos. Over the years I've test-driven various apps and add-ons, and frankly most of them are more trouble than they're worth. Here are four -- formatted, not necessarily exclusively, as Chrome extensions or apps -- that I'm finding useful now that I do most of my web work in Chrome.

Zemanta


Third party blog editors are usually a pain in the keister. I've tried editors like ScribeFire and always end up abandoning them, not least because I use customized fields, etc. in WordPress over at Rational Review News Digest.  Zemanta isn't an editor, precisely. It's an add-on that (relatively unobtrusively) improves your default blog post editor (in Blogger and Wordpress, and perhaps others) with several useful tools -- related images, complete with usage/license information, related stories from around the web or from a database of sources you can specify yourself, and so  forth. It's not just for Chrome -- it works with your browser of choice.

My only complaint with Zemanta is that it requires you to use the WYSIWYG editing mode, and I prefer to just hand-code my HTML as I go. Which is why this is the first blog post that I'm doing completely in Zemanta. It takes some getting used to. But it's worth it. I think.

After The Deadline


From the folks at Automattic (the guys who brought us Wordpress!), After the Deadline is an extensive spelling, grammar and composition checker. Invoke it with a (user-configurable) keyboard macro and it finds and highlights not only spelling mistakes but double negatives, passive voice and other writing no-nos that you may or may not want to correct. I don't always take its advice, but I'm always glad to have it. Once again, not Chrome-only, but that's where I use it.

Word and Character Count


Bhagwad Jal Park wrote Word and Character Count -- his first Chrome extension -- specifically so that he could give up Firefox and move to Chrome. And I'm very glad he did! That cool little "W" sitting next to my address bar saves me a trip to wordcounttool.com, and a bunch of of copying and pasting, whenever I'm editing something to length (C4SS op-eds, for example). Indispensable.

NewsSquares


It's still in beta, but Rocket-in-Bottle's NewsSquares is already changing the way I keep up with news and commentary sources for fun and profit -- at RRND, here at KN@PPSTER, and just in general.

Instead of folders full of bookmarks to open in tabs, I've got a screen (launched as a Chrome app) full of little squares, one per site I need to keep up with. Each square has a number representing the unread articles since my last visit. Click on the square and the article titles scroll across the bottom of my screen so that I can click'em, check'em out in summary, and launch the ones that bear further inspection in new tabs.

It isn't perfect -- some sites don't play well with it, presumably due to its reliance on RSS and integration with Google Reader -- but it's definitely a time-saver. I get to spend more time reading and less time finding things to read.

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