Adriaan Tijsseling has been tweeting about the development progress of ecto3, his powerful Mac blogging app, for some time now. After a sneak peek and more teaser screenshots, Adriaan has generously offered an alpha version for us to play with. In other words: it's pre-beta, which means stuff is very, very likely to go wrong; play with this at your own risk. Speaking of risk, however, there is certainly an upside to testing out this ecto3 alpha: it uses a completely different set of data and storage from the current ecto2, so you don't have to worry about blowing away your old settings or accounts.
That said, let's get on to the good stuff: what's new. First of all, ecto3 is apparently a complete rewrite from the bottom up. It has a new rich text editor based on Apple's own Editable WebKit, which offers a number of handy new writing abilities (such as the slick nested list in the ecto3 alpha announcement post). Another major new development which we had previously heard of is a new plug-in architecture for ecto3, allowing anyone to add support for more blogging systems, integrate media and even text formatting such as Markdown. It's a great step towards allowing ecto3 to become a blogging hub that can do just about anything for anyone.
Speaking of media, I also noticed that there is a new media browser that has access to all the typical stuff, such as iPhoto and Aperture photos, and even your movies. There are all sorts of new goodies in ecto3, so definitely poke around to see all the hard work Adriaan has put into this so far.
If you download the alpha, be sure to read through Adriaan's ecto3 alpha announcement post for a few tips and gotchas with getting the ball rolling. There are a few minor things he hasn't gotten to yet, such as adding all the sites to ping when you publish a post, but a simple 'add defaults' button will get you squared away easily. Once it's finished, ecto3 will surprisingly be a free upgrade for existing registered users (a single license is a mere $17.95). Until then, however, be sure to swing by the support forums to post bugs and discuss ecto3.