Zoundry Raven - Open Source!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hey everyone. I realize that we've been silent for quite some time now. Distractions at Zoundry (read "other projects") have pulled our attention away from Raven. The bad news is that we haven't been able to devote much of our development time to that project. We still try to handle support email and the forums as much as possible, but even on these fronts we don't do as good a job as we would like. This is unfortunate because we think that Raven is a good product and it could be so much better if only it had some constant attention being paid to it.

The good news is that, to this end, we have decided to release Raven as an open-source project. We're trying to bring on developers from the Raven community to help push Raven development forward. We (Zoundry) will continue to serve the following functions:

  • Overall product direction/guidance
  • Build and Release management (we will still be your official source for new builds)
  • Email support, Forum support, Web Site hosting/management
  • Evangelism (to the extent we have ever been capable of this)

Your takeaway from this should be that we are actively seeking developers to help usher in a new era of active Zoundry Raven development. If you are a developer interested in getting involved, please let us know via email (support@zoundry.com) or the Zoundry Raven Forum. Now is your chance to help make Raven even better than it already is!

Update: sadly I forgot to include the link to the Zoundry Raven Open Source project site.

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The Extended Beta

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The 1.0 version of Raven has just been released and we have already received our "Daily WTF" (a blog we read) feedback via Cobalto:

Note the the "Beta" stamp on the splash screen. Time to startup Photoshop (or GIMP).

Release Version 1.0 - out of beta

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The first non-beta version of Raven 1.0 is now available for download. A big thank you goes to the Raven user community for reporting defects and sending us valuable feedback. Some users have gone to the extent of giving us access to their servers to test Raven.

The formal press release can be found here. We think Raven is one of the first WSYIWYG blog editors designed to be portable. (We do want to mention that the editor we used before Zoundry made an editor - wBloggar - can also be run on a USB stick. wBloggar is not a true WYSIWYG blog editor). When installed as a portable application, Raven stores all of the downloaded blog content, drafts, thumbnails, clipboard copy/paste content in the USB drive. Any resources referenced on the primary hard drive (e.g. images in the C:/ drive) will be automatically copied to your profile in the portable USB drive.

It took us a while to get to the 1.0 version as we wanted to resolve as many issues as we could before releasing it. There are still a few known issues still unresolved.

  • Embedding video links - To add video (youtube.com, google video, ifilm, photobucket, piratr, slide, veoh, and vsocial), all you have to do is drag and drop the youtube.com link into the editor, or if you already have a link to a video site in the editor, then right click on the link and choose "Link -> Create Embed Content".

    The issue related to a video embed is that it is not properly rendered in the editor (it is OK in preview mode). The video embed (in the editor) may remain blank until you either grab it and move it around or double click on it.
  • Diacritic marks when entered as entities are converted to Unicode characters.
  • Font settings user interface supports only fixed font size units (px). Relative font size units such as em and percentage can be entered via xhtml editor.
  • Image and attachment links to UNC paths do not render correctly and are not uploaded when posting.
  • HTTP Proxy supports only BASIC authentication. ISA server specific (windows logon) schemes are not supported.
  • UPDATE: The Splash screen and About page image still "thinks" its a beta. Oh well!

Portable Application:
If you plan to install Raven on a USB stick (pen drive), then please make sure to check the "Portable Application" check box shown in the install wizard. You can read more about this here.

WordPress 2.6 :
WordPress 2.6 users must have the XML-RPC Remote Publishing enabled to use Raven.

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Release Version 0.9.360

Monday, July 21, 2008

The fifth (and likely the final beta) build release (version 0.9.360) is now available for download. This release contains mostly bug fixes and a few enhancements.

  • Added support for Flickr media storage (image upload).
  • HTTP Proxy support. See Tools -> Preferences -> General -> Proxy. Note that the current implementation does not support Google ClientLogin (i.e. Blogger.com and Picasa). Updated July 24, 2008 - Version 0.9.363 supports Google ClientLogin via HTTP Proxy - please see this forum post.
  • When image files are dropped into the editor, a dialog box is shown to allow you to choose the thumbnail size settings.
  • Width and height attributes of <img> tags are automatically generated if they are not set (images without these attributes do not work on WordPress.com hosted site).
  • The <img> tag ALT attribute is now automatically set (derived from the filename) when you drag and drop an image into the editor.
  • When you drop attachments/files into the editor, the <a> tag TITLE attribute will be set with the file name and file size.
  • The Src input field in the Image Properties dialog now supports paths that start with underscores as well as UNC paths.
  • The XML-RPC layers uses local Date Time format (instead of UTC) for TextPattern. This is a work around until TextPattern's XML-RPC layer plugin supports UTC.
  • The src attribute in <img> elements for Picasa urls contain the imgmax parameter. This parameter is now also applied to href attributes in <a> elements. E.g. link from a thumbnail image to larger image. (If the imgmax parameter is not added on to the URL, then Picasa server returns the large images as attachments which forces the browser to prompt the "Open With" or "Save As" dialog.)
  • WordPress specific:
    • When you remove existing tags for a post and update the post, the tags are removed from the WP entry.
    • You can now set WP per-post password.
    • You can now change the WP post status such as Pending, Private etc.

WordPress 2.6 users should enable Remote Publishing on the WP server.

As usual, many thanks goes to all our users for taking the time to send us feedback as well as bug reports.

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WordPress 2.6 - You Must Enable Remote Publishing To Use Raven

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Raven and most other desktop clients use the XML-RPC api on WordPress in order to publish posts as well as to download posts. The XML-RPC api is normally shipped enabled with WordPress version upto version 2.5.x.

Beginning with WordPress 2.6, the XML-RPC api is disabled by default. To use Raven with WordPress 2.6+, you must enable XML-RPC Remote Publishing via WP Administration Console.

  1. Login to WordPress 2.6 Administration Console and goto Settings -> Writing.
  2. Check the "XML-RPC" checkbox found under the Remote Publishing section. (see screen shot below).

You can find more information on this issue via RedSweater and the original WordPress Trac Ticket.

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Post Link URL Is Not Available On Blogger.com When You Use a Future Date Time

As you know, Raven allows you to set the post date-time stamp to a future date time. In in previous versions, when you post an entry with a future date-time, the blog post URL (link location) is available (to Raven) as soon as you post it. Having the blog post URL is very useful - especially, if you want to view the post online, or refer to it (i.e. link to it) with in Raven in another post.

Recently, I noticed that Blogger no-longer returns the blog post URL if the post date-time is set for a future date (or if your PC clock date-time is faster than that of Blogger servers date-time).

According to Google's Blogger developers, this is "as designed" - i.e the post URL is not returned for posts with future date-time stamps. We do not agree with this design, but it is their design.

What we have done as a work around (with build 336), is that Raven will attempt to 'refetch' the blog post URL the next time you run "Download Recent Posts". Even in this case, the URL is available only if the blog posts' date-time is either 'now' or in the past - relative to the time you ran "Download Recent Posts".

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How To Publish Screenshots

Friday, May 16, 2008

A forum user recently suggested that a nice feature to add to Raven would be a slick screenshot tool akin to what can be found in OneNote. Apparently they have a cool feature where you can take a screen capture of only a specific part of the screen (by specifying a rectangle using a screen capture tool). Once taken, the screen capture is then injected into OneNote.

This made me realize that, while we could implement such a feature, we should be able to come up with a decent workflow to take screen captures with the current Raven build. Raven has the ability to paste an image that is on the clipboard directly into the blog post. For example, you can do the following:

  1. Open Raven
  2. Create a new Post or edit an existing one
  3. On the keyboard, hit Alt-PrtScrn (the Print Screen key)
  4. This will take a screen capture of just the current window (not the whole screen)
  5. Back in the Raven Editor, paste (Ctrl-V)

I'll try this now, and insert the resulting screen capture...

Of course, after I pasted the image into my blog post, I then created a thumbnail of it. But you get the idea.

The part we're still missing is the ability to capture only certain parts of the screen by specifying a rectangle. To enable that behavior, I think another tool is required. On the forum, it was suggested that Snagit could fulfill this role, although I have not used it myself. Suffice it to say, there must be a handful of utilities out there that one could use to take partial screen captures. Once the capture is taken, and the image is on the clipboard, Raven will let you paste it right into the Editor. Done and done.

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Beta Release Version 0.9.284

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Our fourth public beta build release (version 0.9.284) is now available for download. This build has most of the defects that were submitted during the last beta period fixed as well as the following enhancements and features:

  • Designer
    • You can now select multiple paragraphs and press the bullet button to get multiple bullets.
    • Added a toolbar button for the <blockquote> (the indent button still inserts a <blockquote> tag).
    • Toolbar buttons to insert html tags such as <H1>, <H2>, <code> etc. Read more.
  • XHTML Editor - lot of enhancements on this editor. See this post for more details.
    • The current row and column position is now displayed in the status bar.
    • Find and Replace functionality.
    • Paste as XHTML.
    • Toolbar button implementations for bold, italic and underline text formatting.
    • XHTML schema and CSS valid code completion and call tips.
    • XHTML validation.
    • Clean up and W3C Tidy.
  • Templates
    • Javascript in the Preview page is now disabled.
    • Added BaseHref support when downloading Blog Templates.
  • Publishing
    • You now have the option to remove newlines when publishing your posts. For those of you who use Blogger.com and have enabled their "Convert Line Breaks" option should check the "Remove Newlines" check box. This check box is available in the Account and Blog preferences UI. This option removes newlines (so that Blogger will not convert those to additional <br/> tags). Newlines in <pre> and <javascript> tags are not removed to observe the xml:space="preserve" option.
    • XML namespace prefixes (e.g. xml:space="preserve") are removed during publishing. This is mainly to avoid support some WordPress plug-ins that are not XML aware.
    • XML-RPC based file uploads for WP now also send the file MIME content-type. The content-type is needed by WordPress 2.5 to display thumbnails in its Media Library. Thanks to Kirk M. to reporting this defect (among others) and allowing us to use a test server hosted on his machine.
  • Raven To Go (Portable Version) - When you drag and drop (or link to) image or files from the host machine's hard drive, these resources will be copied to the portable thumb drive when you save your post. Note that this process may take a few seconds (for moderate size resources) since the files need to be copied to a slower device (e.g thumb drive).
  • Application UI
    • You can now delete only the local copy of a blog post without deleting it from the server.
    • Raven now remembers if the main app window was maximized, so it will start up maximized if it was maximized when it was shut down.
    • Added "Collapse All" button to the Account Navigator - this button will collapse all of the nodes in the tree.
    • Account Navigator now remembers which node was selected when Raven was closed.
    • Pressing the "Dashboard" button in the Account Navigator will now deselect any node that was previously selected.
    • Partial translation language bundles for Spanish (es_MX, about 60% done) and Chinese (zh_CN, about 25% done). Many thanks to FĂ«aluin (es_MX) and MaoMen (zh_CN) for getting the translations started. We also want to mention that Marcos Silva was one of the early testers to start on a Portuguese (Brazilian) translation, but unfortunately, most of the work he did was lost due to a defect in out translator tool.
  • Framework - major changes to underlying background task support:
    • Improved synchronization to avoid errors, stack traces.
    • Background Task window should now update properly in all cases.
    • Standard Perspective views have been changed to better handle concurrency (better thread synchronization)
    • Added a section in the Main Application Window's status bar to indicate the current background task activity.
    • Canceling bg tasks should work better now.

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Using The XHTML Code Editor

Monday, April 21, 2008

The XHTML code editor in Raven (version 0.9.279) is almost feature complete with following enhancements.

  • Find and Replace.
  • Zoom.
  • Paste as XHTML.
  • Text Formatting.
  • Brace (< and >) matching and XHTML tag and attribute name highlighting (syntax color coding).
  • XHTML schema valid code completion.
  • XHTML validation.
  • XHTML code cleanup and Tidy services.

When using the code editor, note that the content of the editor should content of a XHTML <body> tag. Do not enter <xhtml>, <head> and <body> tags. Use only child tags of the <body> tag such as <p>.

Find and Replace:
The Find/Replace dialog is exactly the same dialog used in WYSIWYG Designer. Press Ctrl+F (or EditMenu->Find) to bring up the dialog.

Zoom Controls:
Press ctrl and + (plus) or ctrl and - (minus) to increase or decrease the XHTML editor font size.

Paste as XHTML (Ctrl + Shift + V):
This is similar to functionality found in the Designer. The difference between Paste (Ctrl + V) and Paste as XHTML (Ctrl + Shift + V) is that the latter will convert the content into a xhtml code fragment before pasting the content into the editor. For example if you copied the following plain text content to the clipboard:

This is the first paragraph
Second line.

Second paragraph
2nd line
3rd line

then pasting as xhtml insert the following formatted code:

     This is the first paragraph
     Second line.
     Second paragraph
     2nd line
     3rd line

Text Formatting:
Text formatting toolbar buttons and keyboard shortcuts (e.g. Bold or Ctrl+B, etc.) are available in XHTML editor. To use it, simply select the text and press the toolbar button (such as Bold). The appropriate markup is then wrapped around your text selection. For example, if the text selection is

Hello World

then the final markup would be

<strong>Hello World</strong>

If you do not have any text selected when you invoke one of operations (e.g. Bold or Ctrl+B), then the relevant markup is inserted with the cursor positioned between the open and close tag. For example, the Bold button would insert


where [cursor] indicates the cursor.

Note: Be careful when you apply markup on selected text as the markup is applied to the whole selection even if the selected text had partial markup. For example if the selected text is


(i.e. includes partial text for <em> open tag), then after applying Bold, the final markup would look like


Notice that the <strong> tag was applied over the partial <em> tag since it was part of the selection.

Code Completion:
The auto complete list is a list of schema valid xhtml and css keywords that can be inserted at current document (cursor) position. The list is automatically shown when you type in a start tag "<" or an end tag "</" character sequence. This list will also automatically hide if any of the characters you typed did not match a tag in the list shown.You can also display the list by pressing Ctrl + Space (e.g. after the < character).

Below is a screen shot showing the tag list at the top (root) level:

Once you are inside a tag, Ctrl+Space will show the list of available attribute names for the current element.

If you are in a style attribute, Ctrl+Space will show the list of available CSS style names and or values depending on the context. Similarly, attribute value options for href, class attributes are shown when available.

The list for class attribute values shown are based on what you have already used in the current document (post). The href values are also based on list of links you have in the current working document. For example, soon after typing http:// you should see a list of possible matches links based on other links in the document. Screen shot below shows the auto complete on font-family CSS style attribute:

The auto-completion on a close tag character sequence </ will show the matching closing tag (when possible i.e. as long as your content is well formed).

XHTML Validation:
This version of Raven also allows you to validate your post entry using XHTML 1.0 Strict or Transitional by pressing the Validate button on the tool bar. The validation messages with warning/error line numbers are shown in the message list below the editor along with corresponding "markers" (icons) on the editor margin.

Note: validation is performed against your post - and not against your Blog site. You should make sure that your Blog site is XHTML compliant (most are based on templates).

XHTML Clean up and Tidy:
This tool bar option allows you to manually run a basic code clean up process (e.g. convert plain text to xhtml, clean up MS Word tags etc.) followed by a call to W3C Tidy. Note that is also automatically performed when you save or switch to the Designer.

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How To Insert XHTML Tags From The Designer

Many users have requested a feature enhancement to allow them to insert xhtml markup tags such as headers (H1, H2 etc) and other inline tags such as <sup>, <code> etc. using the Raven WYSIWYG Designer instead of having to switch to the XHTML code editor .

These feature enhancements have now been included into Raven (starting with version 0.9.279) as a tool bar drop down button.

Insert HTML tags toolbar buttons

The tool bar has two buttons - one is for formatting block level elements such as <h1>, <pre> etc. To format text as a header, simply select the text and choose one of the tags shown from the drop down menu. The horizontal rule (<hr>) tag is also available in this menu. If you want to insert a <hr>, make sure that you do not have a text selection - otherwise your selection will be replaced with a <hr>.

The second tool bar button also allows you to format you text selection, except that the list of available tags are schema dependent. In most cases, you will see inline tags such as <code>, <em>, <sup> etc.