I’ve been meaning to try Windows Live Writer for some time. At the risk of being labeled a Luddite, I will reveal that—when it comes to authoring--I’m a rich client guy. I like having the snappy response of a client application and I don’t mind having to install a few applications if they help me save time. I fully appreciate having online access to SharePoint, e-mail and other assets, but when it comes to authoring, I like to be offline and take my time. For example, I use Microsoft Outlook for mail (even though I have a Gmail account), I use TweetDeck for Twitter updates, and I will be installing SharePoint Workspace 2010 to try that out as well.
Things I Like About Windows Live Writer
Image Management: The first killer feature I discovered in Live Writer is the image management capabilities. For my own overly cautious backup reasons, I upload all of my blog images to my own FTP server. This means that even if there was an issue with the server, I would still have a neatly filed copy of every image that I could quickly reference and use for other purposes. I didn’t want to just blindly upload my images or squash them all into a single FTP folder. I was happy to discover that Live Writer allowed me to add my FTP server credentials and every time I publish a post, the images are neatly filed into one folder for each post.
Publishing Flexibility: The most fundamental feature of Live Writer is the ability to write content for different publishing targets. At this time, you have the options to add accounts for these platforms: Windows Live Spaces, SharePoint blogs, Blogger, WordPress, TypePad and other blogging sites.
Once I created an account for my blog, I can happily work on my post offline and publish it whenever I want. My blog supports taxonomy categories, so I can also tag my posts in Live Writer. In addition, I can post a draft to my blog online and then go to a different machine with Live Writer and work on the post from there. Being able to add my SharePoint Intranet blog as a publishing target is a nice bonus.
Plug-ins: Live Writer has a nice plug-in system that allows third-party plug-ins to be developed and made available through http://gallery.live.com. I added a plug-in to let me format code snippets in colour.
Things I’d Like to See Improved
FIXED: Add the Ribbon: I am not always in favour of the Office ribbon—I minimize it on small screens (e.g., net books)—but when I started using Live Writer for posting to my blog, I immediately found myself missing the convenience of the ribbon. [Update: Since I wrote this posts, the ribbon has been announced for Live Writer]
Plug-in Fixes: Ironically, I tried to insert a sample code snippet above using the two most popular Live Writer code plug-ins, but neither came out properly formatted. Apparently, I need to massage the CSS myself to use these add-ons.
Despite these minor issues, I’m going to stick with Live Writer. If you’re looking for a blog authoring tool, try Windows Live Writer. As the SharePoint Workspace slogan goes… “Work where you want when you want.”