Monday, August 14, 2006

Using Windows Live Writer with Blogger

An astounding amount of blog posts have appeared today that are dedicated to the new blogging authoring tool from Microsoft: Windows Live Writer. The reviews are resoundingly positive:

  • admits to not being the biggest fan of Microsoft products, but finds much to praise with this one. "It’s not some little mini-app Microsoft put out as an afterthought, this is a full-blown… blogging processor?"
  • GigaOm, also not the biggest Microsoft fan, is very impressed.
  • Performancing is generally impressed, but they (unsurprisingly) prefer their own blog editor, Performancing for Firefox.
  • Digital Inspiration is equally impressed, but points out that a strange phantom post ("Temporary Post Used For Style Detection") appears after you configure your blog with Windows Live Writer. Although I experienced my own problems (see below), this didn't happen to me.
  • And apparently, conspiracy theories are already linking Windows Live Writer with the NSA and Satanists.

As for myself, I downloaded the software tonight after work tonight, and this is the second post that I've created with it. I definitely agree with the positive reviews. Windows Live Writer is very easy to install. Naturally, it features Windows Live Spaces as a blogging service, but it is also compatible with all other major blogging services, including Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad, and WordPress.

The UI is clean and uncluttered, and the word processing functionality feels just like Word (albeit a very limited version).

My favorite part is the View Mode menu options (Look how those handy keyboard shortcuts are listed in plain view...ahh). The default view, Web Layout, is similar to the default Print Layout view in Word: It's a WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) interface. The Web Preview is the really handy bit: you can see exactly what your post will look like in your blog, nestled correctly into your current template. (Granted, a million bloggers have covered Windows Live Writer today, but maybe I'm the only one that has used the word "nestled.")

The Web Preview function in Windows Live Writer is much, much better than Blogger's terrible built-in preview function (maybe Blogger is improving this in its new beta). But I do like how the Blogger editor lets you change the time and date of your posts (didn't know about this? Look in the bottom left corner of the Blogger editing pane for the "Post and Comment Options" section). Unfortunately, Windows Live Writer doesn't include this feature.

I also make much use of Blogger's "Post Template" feature, which lets you add a chunk of HTML to every post: for me, the paragraph of Technorati tags of the bottom of most of my topics. So far, I haven't found anything like this yet in Windows Live Writer.

However, Windows Live Writer has developed an SDK to allow developers to easily add their own enhancements. So we should be seeing all sorts of nifty plug-ins soon.

Note: I didn't have any problems writing this post with Windows Live Writer, but I wasn't able to publish it (or post the draft) to Blogger. I got this server error message:

Server Error 0 Occurred

I'm not sure why this is; I was able to publish my last post fine with Windows Live Writer. Maybe a problem on Blogger's end?

So, I had to do it the old-fashioned way, and copy the HTML into Blogger and publish from there.

Anyone else using Windows Live Writer? What do you think? Are you having any problems posting to Blogger?



Mike said...

Hi Jonathan,

I'm one of the testers that worked on Writer.

In relation to your PostNotFoundException when you tried posting to Blogger, is it possible that you had used the delete post functionality available within Writer and deleted that post while it was open in Writer?

We have a known issue in this beta of Writer where this same exception occurs if a user deletes a post while it is open in Writer and then tries to publish it. This is a problem because the publish action of that post is trying to update a post that should be available at blogger, but it has now been removed because delete was invoked.

Jonathan said...

Hi Mike,

I didn't delete the post within Writer. However, I did initially try posting the draft to Blogger (didn't have any problems doing that), and then I deleted the draft in Blogger. Perhaps that is what caused the problem when I tried to re-publish the post from Writer.

Sairah said...

Hiya, I just got WLW a day or so ago myself and tested it was aright, except that nice feature of View As Web Layout [or whatever it's called] doesn't really read my stylesheet very well. I get a twisted [although mostly accurate] view of what my post will look like.

Also, I LOVE the post template feature that Blogger has, and frankly, I can't see myself using WLW for more than my personal blog until I find a plugin that'll do the job. [I run a few of 'em, so yea...]

Last qualm I had with WLW was taht it liked to add a bunch of code. Like "p" tags and such....that's just not my style, I prefer writing in HTML code mode, so I can minimize the clutter and only have the code that I need there.

Eh, petty details, maybe, but all the same...

blogr said...

yeah. MS has done a good job.

even i too blogged about it

take a look


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