I am posting this using Windows Live Writer, a free application from Microsoft that you can use for writing your blog posts and publishing them to WordPress, Windows Live Spaces, SharePoint, and many other blogging platforms.
I hadn’t considered trying Windows Live Writer until I read this post on BloggingTips.com. That day I downloaded the program and installed it on my laptop, and I was immediately impressed at some of the ways in which it makes my WordPress posting a lot easier and more enjoyable.
1. Text formatting
The WordPress WYSIWIG editor only exposes a few text formatting functions (eg bold, italics, strike-through). Anything else you would like to do with your text such as headings and sub-headings needs to be done using the code view and manually entering HTML tags such as <h2> or <h3>.
Windows Live Writer makes all of this available to you via a styles selector similar to that in Microsoft Word, so it is as easy as highlighting some text and setting it to “Heading 2” or “Heading 3”. Better still, it draws the style information from the CSS for your site, so it will match whatever styling you have coded on your web site.
2. Offline drafting
If you have ever tried composing WordPress posts offline (eg on the train ride to work) you may be frustrated with the process of writing in Notepad or Microsoft Word and then pasting the text into WordPress and fixing up all of the formatting that gets destroyed in the process.
Windows Live Writer downloads your blog site’s style information and uses that as you compose your posts offline. When it comes time to publish the post you already know that it will appear properly formatted and styled and not require any further tweaking.
3. Inserting media
Inserting videos from sites like Youtube is very frustrating if you are trying to use the WordPress WYSIWIG editor. To insert the Youtube embedded video code you normally need to switch to the code view to paste it in.
Windows Live Writer has a neat video insertion tool that makes posting videos a breeze. Simply choose Insert -> Video and paste the URL of the video into the dialog box. It only needs the normal URL, not the full embed code for it to work. You can then insert, reposition, and even resize the video in your blog post without having to go into the code view at all.
4. No more code mangles
Anyone trying to do anything outside of what the WordPress WYSIWIG editor makes possible will know the mess that results from switching back and forth with the code view. Youtube video code is the most common culprit. Once you had pasted your Youtube embedded code into the post you could not go back and make further edits in the WYSIWIG view without breaking the Youtube code. Other examples such as using <code> tags in your posts would also get mangled by WordPress, requiring a lot of manual effort to get your posts looking the way you wanted them.
Windows Live Writer is much better at handling the switch between views. You can go back and forth as much as you like without destroying your formatting in the process.
5. Managing multiple blogs
If you are writing for several different blogs then you might find it difficult managing your access to each one, writing posts using different interfaces, or worse yet posting something to the wrong blog by accident.
Windows Live Writer brings all of your blogging into one application, with an easy to use interface that suits all platforms, and makes it much easier to ensure you are writing for the site you actually want to.
After tinkering with Windows Live Writer and now having made my first post using it I’m convinced that the program will make my blogging in 2008 much easier and more successful than before. If you haven’t tried Windows Live Writer yet why not download it now and give it a go.