Thursday, October 16, 2008

Windows Live Writer

I'm still very new to the whole blogging world.  Even though I have an extensive knowledge in web design, I am finding it difficult to customize the LiveJournal blog.  Although I am fairly satisfied with my current blog, there were many things I wasn't able to do until I stumbled upon Windows Live Writer (WLW).  So I thought I'd pass along a review of the application.

What is Windows Live Writer?

According to WLW's help feature:

Windows Live Writer is a free, downloadable program that works with Windows Live Spaces and most popular blogging services. Use Writer to create and format blog posts with rich content like maps, tables, hyperlinks, tags, and categories. You can see exactly what your blog will look like before you publish it.


One thing I couldn't seem to do in LiveJournal was save a draft.  With WLW, I am now able to do this.  I can create several posts at a time, save them, edit them, and post them when I'm ready.  This is extremely helpful for me, as I am a habitual Control-S person.  The other great thing is that I can create an "idea repository" by saving drafts.  No more Post-It notes with blog article ideas.  I just open WLW, create a new post, add a title, jot down a few quick notes, and save it.  Now I have a list of ideas for future posts that I can return to when I am ready.


I have much more control with photos using WLW.  I could do some things in LiveJournal, but without the ability to use cascading style sheets, I felt very limited.  Using WLW, I am have more control in terms of padding text around images.


I can add tables in LiveJournal, but it never seems to work.  With WLW I can add tables with ease and format them with great flexibility, just like using a WYSIWYG web editor.  I used a table above to display the pictures and explanations.  (Side note:  I typically stay away from tables because of several accessibility issues.  However, since I am not able to get around this with LiveJournal using style sheets, I only use them when I have to.)  

Formatting Text

Using LiveJournal's interface is a pain when it comes to formatting text.  If I use the WYSIWYG editor and try to bullet or quote something, it tends to do it to the whole post.  I simply don't have the patience to go and edit the code for something this simple.  I have no problems with formatting text using WLW.


As with many applications, there are some downfalls.  To me, these particular downfalls are not deal-breakers.

  • Tags - I can insert tags, however, they are embedded in the post, not part of LiveJournal's tagging feature.  Basically, I can add all the tags I want, but they won't show up in my Tag List.  Instead, once I publish my post, I edit it using the LiveJournal interface and put my tags in.
  • Mood - I like to use the Mood feature in LiveJournal.  I can't do this using WLW, although I think there are some plug-ins available.  Since I have to edit my post using the LiveJournal interface to add my tags, I just set the mood while I'm there.
  • Automatic Posting - I know many people like to create posts and set them to post at a specified date and time.  I was hoping that because I could not save drafts using WLW, I would also be able to do auto-postings.  No such luck; it's not a feature.  For me this is not the end of the world.

For me, using WLW puts me at a better advantage than simply using the LiveJournal interface.  I have another blog on blogspot, but I don't use it nearly as much as this one, nor have I fooled around with it enough to see what advantages it offers.  I'm sure there are other applications out there that are like WLW, but for now, I will continue using WLW to post to this LiveJournal blog.

Originally posted @ my LiveJournal blog on 3 September 2008.



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