I was writing a fairly positive review of Windows Live Writer, a new blogging tool from Microsoft, when it crashed on me before I could publish the article! Nonetheless, I was still sufficiently impressed to persevere.
The good news is that Live Writer does most things that you’d expect a capable word processor to do including spell checking (but no grammar check). It has the extra bits and pieces that all bloggers need including image, video and map embedding. It also has more advanced features that are nice but are often not provided, principally a WYSIWYG table editor that outputs valid HTML with a GUI that will be familiar to all word users. Other nice features include categories and tags.
Live Writer has 4 modes:
- a normal mode
- an HTML editing mode
- a WYSIWYG editing mode and
- a web preview mode (pictured)
The first two of these are essentially the same as Blogger’s browser interface. Interestingly it download’s style information from the live blogging site to provide good fidelity for the last two modes.
It is easy to set up, providing built-in support for Windows Live Spaces and Share Point blogs as well as interfaces to Blogger, WordPress, and Moveable Type blogs (among others). To set it up to post to the Learning Lab Blog in order to compose and post this entry, I needed the blog URL, account credentials and the blog id. After this, the Writer downloaded the style information needed for WYSYWYG editing and preview. I also tried to link it to my WordPress blog at blog.swan.ac.uk but for that I needed the URL for the publishing API which I couldn’t discover (perhaps a friendly sysadmin will provide it in the comments).
The one feature that isn’t turned on by default is auto save (although drafts can be saved locally on the desktop). However, you can turn this on from the options! Given my experience, I’d recommend this!