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Testing out Windows Live Writer

Despite the terrible "Windows Live" branding, I'm giving the new Windows Live Writer beta a test shot with my blog. So far, it's very slickly done.

Although I've learned a lot of personal workflow habits to try and streamline the process of blogging, any blog entry involving an image takes me far too much time. I have to download the image I want to the computer I'm posting from. Then I have to upload it to my Web server, then I have to copy in the HTML for the image to where I want it in the post. Then I usually have to go back and re-edit the entry because the image isn't aligned or sized how I want it.

I immediately had to try Writer out When I saw that it allows you to easily insert, align, and resize photos from your computer and automatically upload them using the newMediaObject API (supported by MovableType). I used it to place the little Window Live icon above and then had a happy suprise when I inserted a photo you see to the right: Writer automatically rotated the image into portrait layout. That's a subtle touch, but an important one.

There are other subtle touches that give me confidence that this is a good product:

  • The image manipulation controls get the job done well: there are image sizing presets you can click on for quick resizing, or you can manually drag the image to the size you want; you can easily select photopaper or drop shadow borders; you can easily align and rotate an image; and there are basic image effects you can apply, like sepia tone, sharpening, and brightness;
  • Writer still managed to figure out the CSS styles from MovableType 2.x template and use them in the compose window.
  • Writer breezed through the setup process with my blog. It seems simple enough to use the RSD data embedded in MovableType blogs, but after trying out Performancing and ecto, I can say Microsoft did a better job.
  • You can hit F12 to switch to HTML entry mode, which reveals that Writer is using relatively clean HTML markup.
  • If you cut and paste text with HTML links it it (e.g. from a Web browser), those links are preserved.
  • You can easily apply the 'tag' or 'nofollow' attributes to a link.

There are a probably couple of bugs, which is expected for a beta. The category selector can't handle a large number of categories, so I can't put this entry in the 'Web stuff' category, text focus doesn't return to the composition window like it should after you click on an action in the right pane like 'Insert link,'   tags are used unnecessarily, and Writer confusing refers to previous published entries as 'drafts' if you go back and edit them.

Right now I rate Writer as a 'good' blogging client rather than 'great' blogging client, though I don't think it's far from that higher rating. If it came out in 2005, it would have probably knocked my socks off, but a 2006 blogging client needs to do more than just type text and insert photos from your computer -- it needs to be able to tie in all your media into one blogging platform. It should be integrated with your photo blog (e.g. Flickr), video blog (e.g. Youtube, Google Video) and your links (e.g. del.icio.us), and it needs to be able to easily insert product thumbnails from Amazon; in other words, it needs to be more like Vox and Flock. I like Writer enough, though, that I think I'm going to use it for my next few entries.

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This page contains a single entry from kwc blog posted on August 15, 2006 6:46 PM.

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