Pixel Pumper: The New Go-to App for Blogging on a Mac?

In a recent review of the WordPress blog editor BlogEasy, one of our readers, Siglist, had this to say about blogging apps on the Mac:

Having worked on multiple platforms/OSes… Mac/OSX is colletively the bottom of the barrel when it comes to blogware; no contest. …Why is this the case for the Mac world? There is nothing that can be done with basic “markdown” that can’t be done (and then some) with WYSIWYG.

This is a sentiment shared by many Mac users. While MarsEdit has enjoyed a fine history and following, many users are still on the lookout for the ideal WordPress (or other blog) editor.

There’s a brand new app, PixelPumper, that aims to fill this gap. It aims to let you graphically lay out your blog posts, offline, in an app designed around the latest OS X tech. Can it live up to all of that? Read on to find out.

Getting Started

Linking PixelPumper to an existing blog is a quick and easy process. The first time the app is launched, you will be walked through the process of linking the app to a blog. All you need to do is enter the site name, your username, and your password. Adding additional blogs can be done through the preferences menu. One thing I like about PixelPumper is the ease of switching between blogs.

The UI: Beauty and Puzzlement

PixelPumper’s UI is very eye-catching at first glance. The toolbar icons look nice, if a little big, and the interface is easy enough to figure out: a list of posts on left, the editor in the middle pane, and a few more options for the post in the right pane (category, tags, and main image). Pretty straightforward. But a closer look reveals some problems.

PixelPumper's UI is quite attractive, but lacks customization, even window resizing.

PixelPumper’s UI is quite attractive, but lacks customization, even window resizing.

First of all, with the current UI many actions require multiple clicks. For example, changing the paragraph style to a heading requires three clicks. This would not be so bad, but there is no keyboard shortcut. The same for bolding or italicizing text. Its going to take multiple clicks with no shortcut? Cmd-s doesn’t save a draft of the post?

This shot shows the drop down menu for selecting a heading for a post.

Then there is the window itself, which cannot be resized. Luckily, the default size is reasonable, but if you want to resize a window, you are out of luck. It probably goes without saying at this point, but the UI is also not customizable. No hiding of the toolbar, no separate window for editing, no resizing the window panes, no full screen mode etc.

Not for the Power User

When it comes down to it, PixelPumper is going to work for simple posts, but the power user will find the app lacking in several ways. All of the things Mac users are used to with the Cocoa text editing experience are lacking (as alluded to above with the lack of keyboard shortcuts). What about Markdown? Also not supported. There is also no text mode and no theming support, so any type of advanced editing is not going to happen.

A few other things make the app difficult to use:

  • No support for dragging and dropping images into a post
  • Bullet lists are limited only to one level
  • No autosave function, and no warning to save your work when quitting the app

Here is what a post on my WordPress blog looked like. The default image did not show up on the post, but it looked fine in terms of the formatting.

Needs Some Work

Coming back to the question posed in the title, the answer is no, this app is not going to be the answer for most bloggers. If you have already forked out the money for MarsEdit, this app is not going to add anything you don’t already have.

However, PixelPumper has the potential to be a useful app for making quick, simple posts to your blog. Some bloggers likely don’t need a text mode, or theming. Others might like a slimmed down blog editor to get a quick post out. Currently, PixelPumper is not ideal even for a simple post. The UI is nice to look at, but overall very lacking. As far as creating a post goes, currently the experience is too cumbersome. Adding some UI customization and including some of the basics of a Cocoa text editing experience will make this app a viable solution for some bloggers.

It’s free right now, so it’s worth grabbing just in case it improves in the future. For now, though, it’s likely not the blogging app you’ll want to rely on.


Summary

A Wordpress blog editor with an attractive interface, but lacking key features to make it a useful solution for blogging on the Mac. PixelPumper does have the potential to be a good blog editor for simple posts, but for now, it's only worth downloading since it's free.

5
  • Sigilist

    Thanks for pointing this out, Reid, but there are a couple of additional problems. First, your link doesn’t work. Get rid of that ad link through! Whatever is coming out of that passthru doesn’t produce a valid link at the other end.

    Second, that a simple piece of blogware requires 10.7 is silly. There is nothing visible in this app (or anything that posts to the web) that couldn’t be coded to run on 10.6 or even OSX 10.4. Contary to what some assume 10.6 is still very widely used. The “latest OSX tech” isn’t needed for the gut code under in this genre of software. I can only assume that an automated programming environment is being used (in part) to produce the software and is spitting out file/code dependencies that force this requirement.

    I may not agree with you entirely about aesthetics (you do need to study blogware across all platforms AND targeted user markets for the last decade)… and I can out strip any shortcut addict with one hand on the keyboard and one on a mouse… but you are spot on this time about shortcuts. EVERYONE knows when you are typing (wordprocessing), you need shortcuts (quick key combos) so you break your flow.

    Lastly, if it is currently free, why bother with the annoyance that is the AppStore?

    Thanks for taking time, but a lot of this now makes me sad. I had such hope when I saw the title pass through my newsreader, but it was not to be. Back to my virtualized LiveWriter, two years fallow and still the one to beat!

    the hood of blogware. I’m only a webside codehead myself, but even I can figure that out… s

    And Retina support? Well, that gave me a needed giggle for the morning That it somehow

    • Sigilist

      ADDENDUM: Sorry about the typos and leftovers at the end. I guess I got hopeful and hurried… and should have waited for my morning tea.

    • Sigilist

      Oh, and you really should note which blog platforms it supports. That’s a big deal when reviewing this kind of stuff.

    • Reid Leamaster

      Hi Siglist, thanks for dropping in to comment. I allude to the fact that this is a WordPress editor a couple of times, and state in the summary that it is for WordPress, but I agree I should have been more explicit in the intro.

      Good point about only supporting 10.7 and above! As is, it seems this app could easily support 10.6.

      As far as going through the App Store with a new, free app, I am guessing it has to do with increased exposure.

  • http://thegraphicmac.com Jim

    6 out of 10? If you don’t have a 15″ MBPro or larger, you can’t even use the app because there is no window resize and the publish button is inaccessible. This app should be a 2 out of 10 for that reason alone.

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      Oh my word, really? That’s ridiculous. Sorry to hear that.

  • http://www.pixelpumper.com Stefan

    Hey all,

    the reason I set the app to 10.7 or higher is because I dont have anything lower to test it on here, and didn’t want to have any annoyed downloaders.

    A lot of the issues noted in this post are already in the new version waiting to go live in the App Store (including a resizeable window!)

    This is my first journey in to Mac OS X apps, so I’m taking everyones critiques, and hopefully will have a great app for everyone to use at the end!

    If anyone has any requests or comments, please feel free to mail me through the site and I’ll aim to address all the issues as soon as possible.

    Thanks :)

    • JD

      Stefan, you might want to check out macdeveloper.net or a similar site/community/service if you really don’t have any friends, colleagues or family members running SnowLeopard on their Macs. (or any other OS than the one you are using)

      Beta testers can give you great feedback, feature requests, tips, etc. and are using all kinds of computer and OS configurations.

      This might be an easy way to avoid unhappy/annoyed downloaders/customers. ;-)

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