Windows Live Writer

Windows Live Writer

I have tried a few desktop blogging programs. The closest I came to anything I would use was Qumana or Scribefire. Both programs claimed tagging support, but not the type of tags that you type into the little box in Wordpress, that you can use later to organize your blog. They posted them directly into a post and then linked to somewhere like Technorati. So I would have to post a draft and still log in to Wordpress to add tags.

But Live Writer works with the Wordpress built in tagging system, if you get the Keyword Tags plugin for Wordpress or by getting a different XML manifest file for your Wordpress installation or just by having a current version of Wordpress which I haven't updated to yet. This support originally worked for plugins like the Ultimate Tag Warrior. Of course, everyone knows how much of a mess the switchover from tag plugins to Wordpress native tagging was.

The biggest thing is that you don't have to worry about losing your post if you accidentally close the browser window. Now I know Wordpress has that timer below the post that saves your post every few minutes. But I have only had a little bit of luck with that. Sometimes it's there and sometimes it's not. It's finicky. I know I could track down why this function works so intermittently, but I really don't want to.

The first thing I noticed with Live Writer is that after you set a blog up in it, it uses the stylesheet as you write a post. The fonts, colors, and background look just like your Wordpress theme. So you know exactly what the post will look like as you type. It even goes as far as using the same width setting of your post, so you know how long it will look on the page.

But then I saw all the plugins available. This is an awesome piece of software. Here is a short list of the four pages of plugins available for Live Writer:

  • A "Blog This" plugin for Firefox
  • Add your Flickr photos in Live Writer
  • Insert code into your post
  • Insert formatted text from software like Excel
  • Screen capture from a url
  • Add Polaroid style images. (A gimmick, I know)
  • A feed reader plugin to insert articles from RSS feeds
  • Ink Blog to blog in your own handwriting (I will have to try this one with the Bamboo Fun)
  • A related posts plugin that works with any blogging system directly from live writer.

Just adding that link above gave me something else to investigate about Live Writer. It seems when you add a link to a post, you can also add the link to a link glossary. It also give you the option of choosing from old post to link to. That's how I linked to the post above. It pulls them directly from the blog and all I had to do was choose one. I could have done this by opening up my site in another browser window and then searching for posts to link to, but I am all about convenience. That's the whole point of using software in the first place. It would be cool to have a blog search function though.

But I had to investigate what the link glossary was. It saves your anchor text and links for use again, so you don't have to hunt them down. It is buried a little in the menu under Tools->Options->Link Glossary though. But if you link from certain phrases all the time, it will remember that and when you choose to hyperlink text that you have already saved to the glossary, you can pull it up easily.

Plus I partially like the idea of writing a post into some sort of software. I like writing in long hand first, for those times when I am not near a computer. But when I type up the post, writing in actual software gives me the impression that I am writing something of worth, rather than filling out a form on a website or posting to a forum. It just makes me push the bar up a bit and realize that I am writing something that may me up on my site for years.

So I guess I will give this a try for a while. It definitely beats anything else I have tried so far, including some I tested that had a price tag if I wanted to use them more than 30 days. But now I am going to download some plugins and do a little playing and update the damn Wordpress installation here, so that Wordpress can tell me I need to update again two days later.

P.S. I added the image after the post. There are some cool effects like drop shadow you can add to images. Just cool.

Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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