Microsoft Windows Live Writer

Several posts ago I mentioned I discovered that Microsoft Word had the ability to publish blog posts.  I said I was going to experiment with it and see how it worked.  Now I’ve done so and am ready to release my findings.

Using Word to publish posts worked great initially.  Finally, I had a good table editor, spell check, and great formatting capability.  But very quickly I discovered a serious drawback: images.  Word has the ability to publish images to a server.  But it is apparently not compatible with the methods that Blogger uses to upload images.  There may be a way to do it, but I haven’t been able to find anyone online that knows how.  Everyone that has an interest in doing it is referred by other people to using Microsoft’s Windows Live Writer instead.  So I tried it out.

Windows Live Writer is a free program by Microsoft specifically designed to edit and upload blog posts.  It has a number of pretty cool features compared with Blogger:

  • It was really easy to setup with Blogger and can handle multiple blogs
  • It has more powerful formatting and font capability
  • It has a table editor
  • The edit mode shows your blog with the formatting it will have on the blog—including the width of the blog post
  • The preview shows your blog as it will look with your blog’s theme
  • The spellchecker checks spelling as you type, and gives suggestions in the context menu
  • It has a word count
  • It replaces -- with — and uses smart quotes: “ and ”
  • Undo and redo work right and remembers lots of actions
  • It handles pictures nicely, particularly justification and margins; you can also edit the picture right from the post
  • The source code editor is hierarchal
  • You can install plug-ins for additional functionality
  • It reminds you if you haven’t put a title or categories
  • Hyperlinks have more options, like opening links in a new window and automatically linking to previous posts
  • It has paste special

Some of the enhancements are not quite as cool as Word’s: like the table editor and how it handles pictures (before the failed upload process).  Word is far more powerful.  But Windows Liver Writer is a lightweight program certainly superior to Blogger.

I really like the way Windows Live Writer displays the post while editing.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to post, repost, and repost the same blog post to get a picture or something to look right.  Now I can see exactly how it is going to look formatting-wise while editing and then go to the preview and see it with the background pictures and theme. 

Tables is something I’ve been wanting for a long time.  If you recall my post Easter Eggs from Outer Space, the way I formatted that so nicely was with tables.  But I had to do it manually in the source code, which took forever.

Uploading is really quick.  And it opens it in your browser when it’s done.  It can also access your blog and download previous posts to edit and republish.  When saving drafts you can save them on your computer or to your blog.

The only thing I find slightly bothersome is that it adds a paragraph tag before every paragraph.  That’s fine most of the time, but it also means that there is an extra space between the title and the first paragraph.  I just have to remove the paragraph tag from that paragraph when posting.  Well worth it for the extra features I’m getting in return.  And there might be a way to fix that I haven’t discovered yet.

You can download Windows Live Writer here.  It downloads the whole Windows Live suite, so I recommend only installing the stuff you want (in my case that is only Windows Live Writer).

So in sum, I use Windows Live Writer now for blogging.  I’ve used it for this post and I think every post since my Microsoft Word post.  But when I move away from Blogger I will likely switch to Microsoft Word.