When Microsoft came out with Live Writer, I was curious why the company was intent on pursuing the blogging roadmap at all. After all, wasn’t MSN Spaces losing the battle to WordPress? Blogger, even?
Back then, Live Writer didn’t even have a WYSIWYG editor and lacked quite a few features I thought important. I was having a conversation on Twitter today where I asked:
This query prompted a response with quite a few people recommending Windows Live Writer (here and here), even though it was not a response to my query! Now this does not happen regularly. I am used to MS products being bashed around on the interwebs and here was this little program getting rave reviews from people I respected.. I had to give it a re-look! So here is a quick post on the pros-cons of the new and improved Windows Live Writer.
· Install was malware-like. Asked me if I wanted Live Mail, Messenger, etc. installed too. Those check mark buttons should be opt-in, not opt-out.
· Program is still a tad buggy. Crashed on me twice. (To it’s credit, the auto-save option kicked in and I got back this post)
· When you enter “something.com”, it’s not automatically hyperlinked, though “www.something.com” is.
· Doesn’t do a grammar check.
· Uses line breaks instead of paragraph tags.
Also, there is no way to switch between this functionality. Use [shift] + [enter] to get a line break.
· No Find and Replace??
· When switching between Source and Edit views, the cursor returns to the start of the post
· Plugged into most of the popular blogging platforms I tried it on.
· Easy as hell WYSIWYG editor. Also supports table creation and headers.
· Didn’t become system heavy, even as I used it for quite a while.
· Supports in-line spell check.
· Supports image and video insertion.
· Allows you to modify the date on which the blog post was posted.
· The ‘Preview’ mode allows you to view how the post will look on your blog from within the software!
· Has a very healthy plugins developer community.
Here are a few features I think would be worth exploring for the devs behind WLW.
· Word auto-completion – The technology has been around for ages, why not use it?
· Integration with MS Word custom dictionaries, SmartArt and other features, so that I don’t have to re-invent the wheel.
· Grammar support
· Integrate the Thesaurus plugin into the program.
· Colour-code the HTML tags in Source view.
· Pre-populate the Ping Servers field with popular services under Tools > Options > Ping Servers, even if field is greyed out.
· Get more robust support for hyperlinking, i.e. setting rules on wild-card entries, e.g. Make all words starting with “*.com” hyperlink to www.*.com with “target=_blank”.
Go for it! I can safely say that you will like it. What WLW will also allow you to do is to create fully formatted entries offline 🙂