From the first day that I’ve started blogging, I found that using the web interface for Blogger and WordPress is a cumbersome task. Although, most apps seem to be moving to the web, there are some things, such as blogging, that I still prefer to do on the desktop.
I have been a fan of Windows Live Writer (WLW), Microsoft’s desktop blogging tool, for quite some time. It allows me to blog from the desktop and relieve myself of the cumbersome web interface. With the release of its newest incarnation (WLW 2011), it is also a good time to provide a review of its features.
WLW now has a Ribbon
WLW is a blog-publishing application featuring WYSIWYG and media editing. One of the greatest strengths of WLW is that it integrates with your blog, so when you are editing a post or creating a new one it does not feel like you are using an alien application. The newest version of WLW incorporates Microsoft’s much lauded ribbon feature which dynamically changes as you select different items on the page.
When text is selected:
When images are selected:
Integration with WordPress.com
To get started, you have to first add your blog detail to WLW. To add a new blog you must first click on the “Add blog account…” button under the “Home” tab on the ribbon.
This will launch the WLW wizard for adding a new blog.
Microsoft has recently partnered with WordPress, so if you select Create a new blog, you will be directed to the WordPress.com website to create a new account and blog.
If you are using other blogging platform, such as Blogger or self hosted WordPress, you can select one of the other platforms to connect it with WLW. For example, when I first added my technology blog TechComet to WLW, I selected the “Other services” link as TechComet is hosted on Google’s Blogger platform.
On the next page you will have to enter the URL of your blog and its username and password. Since, all Blogger blogs are linked to your Google account, simply enter your Google username and password here.
Once you have entered your account details, you will have to create a nickname for your Blog.
That is basically all it takes to add a new blog. Once WLW downloads all the technical information from the Blog, you can start writing and publishing your posts immediately.
WLW has a number of unique features, and my favourite is its ability to download the theme of your Blog.
As you can see, the theme of my blog has been downloaded and this is an useful visual indicator of how a post will look after publication.
Once you have completed a post you either hit the “Post draft to blog” button if you want to make further edits to your post before publishing, or you hit the “Publish” button to immediately have your new post appear on your blog.
WLW’s most powerful feature is its ability to manage videos and pictures as though you were editing a local document.
Along the ribbon you have the option of adding picture or video files from a variety of sources.
You can add pictures directly from your computer hard drive, or from the web.
Alternatively, you can add pictures through the “album” function, which allows you to use Window SkyDrive service to create a virtual slideshow of your images.
First select the “Create online album…” or “Add online album…” option.
Next add as many pictures you want into your album and select “Publish” from the ribbon.
Once published, WLW and Windows Live Services will automatically create a slideshow of your images on your blog.
Next, you can use SkyDrive to view these images as a slideshow.
The video options also allow you to add videos from external video sources such as YouTube.com.
WLW has eliminated the need for me to use Blogger’s, sometimes frustrating, web interface when creating a new post. I believe it will be useful to you too.
WLW is free for download and use. WLW is Windows only.