From time to time people ask for a feature in MarsEdit that would allow scheduling of posts for future publication. While I can appreciate the desire for such functionality, the drawbacks to implementing it on the client-side are numerous. To schedule a future post, MarsEdit or a custom tool from MarsEdit needs to run in the future, at a precise time specified by the user.
Launchd and other system scheduling services make this task less formidable, but it’s still not exactly something I can whip up overnight. Fortunately, some publishing systems treat posts with future dates as unpublished, and automatically change their state to published when the specified date arrives. WordPress in particular definitely supports this. To see if your blog supports it, next time you’re publishing a post try setting the date to just a few minutes in the future. From the Post menu, select “Edit Date,” and enter a future time:
I am writing about this because I suspect many people don’t know about this really cool feature. I didn’t know about it myself until very recently. I was motivated to research it when Guy Kawasaki asked about the possibility. He confirmed that the trick works with his (excellent) TypePad-based blog, too. [Update: I believe the TypePad functionality may have only appeared to work. I have since learned that TypePad doesn't seem to support this the way we had hoped.]
For any WordPress users who are curious, the functionality in that system is based on a nifty general-purpose “cron-like” service built-in to WordPress 2.1 and later. This allows the system and plugins to schedule future actions for a variety of purposes, including future posting. Glenn Slaven has a nice article about the WordPress scheduling technology.
Aside from WordPress and TypePad, I have confirmed this also works in Google Blogger. I’m not sure which other systems suport future-posting in this way.
Please let us know in the comments if you discover the feature works as expected on your blogging system of choice.