Windows Live Writer

[UPDATE: See the comments, and this.  I am man enough to admit I was wrong about chunks of this.]

I’ve been using the Evil Empire’s Windows Live Writer for the last few blog posts, including this one. I haven’t made up my mind about it, but here are some impressions:

I do like the “form factor” of the Writer application as opposed to the in-browser WordPress interface, which I always find annoying. I find pretty much all web-based UI’s for inputting large swaths of text annoying, actually. WordPress’s, like many others, is naturally too short and too wide. I tend not to bother making it thinner, as that requires resizing the browser. I do make it taller, but that requires scrolling to get by all the stuff at the top of the page and allow space for the text.

A potential downside to WLV is that it stores drafts on the local machine, not online among WordPress’s drafts. That doesn’t matter for short posts, but for people like me who use multiple computers and write longer posts in multiple sittings, it could be a problem.

WLV is WYSIWYG, more or less, which for blogging is nice, but not really crucial. I imagine I will like it more the next time I add a picture, something that’s a pain to get right with WordPress’s native interface. WLV does not seem to understand WordPress’s “sourcecode” construct, which will be annoying for anything involving code. It also doesn’t get all the little details right—it doesn’t convert the keyboard pseudo-quotation marks to real quotes or multiple hyphens to em and en dashes, for example, and it doesn’t format lists correctly. For most purposes, though, I do find it an improvement over WP’s “visual editor,” which can be an over-aggressive pain at times.

Another minor complaint—the spellchecker highlights words even more obnoxiously than most Microsoft products, not only with squiggly underlines but with bolding. What on earth is that about?

The worst problem with WLV is that it doesn’t understand WordPress tags. Its tag interface is something else, requiring “tag sources,” that novice amateur incompetent blogger me doesn’t really understand. To get tags in I have to publish and then edit immediately. [UPDATE: it does understand them—see the comments.]

For now I’ll keep using it—the form factor thing is worth the problems. If anyone wants to correct my misapprehensions about said problems, please do.

UPDATE: Ha, I see one misapprehension already—there are options for “post as draft” and “open from weblog,” which get around the online/offline problem. My apologies for slandering you, Windows Live Writer!

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One Response to “Windows Live Writer”

  1. Joe Cheng [MSFT] Says:

    Hi there, WordPress native tags are supported if you pop up the Post Properties panel (F2) and fill out the Keywords field. This obviously isn’t ideal and will be improving in the future, but it does work.

    Typographic characters will be inserted by WordPress, even though they’re not reflected in the WLW editor. Doing typographic replacement locally is something we’re considering for a future release.

    I’d like to hear more about what’s wrong with lists–we should just be using standard semantic HTML and rendering according to your stylesheet.

    Hope this helps! Feel free to ping me at joe.cheng *AT* microsoft.com if you have any questions.

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