Windows Live Writer Review

If you blog, you need to use Windows Live Writer.  I wrote about Writer once before, but didn’t do a full review.  This time, I am so hooked, I have to write more.

I recently switched over to WordPress from Movable Type, and with my first few posts I sincerely tried to use the WordPress AJAX, web-based editor.  But, the web-based editor is so primitive compared to writer that I had to switch back. 

There are a few problems with the web-editors.  First, you really do have to know HTML.  Although WordPress tries to be WYSIWYG, it has lots of bugs, and I often had to switch to HTML mode to make my posts look right.  Worse, sometimes I simply could not get the editor to format posts the way I wanted.  Everything was difficult and I was constantly fighting with the editor rather than writing my post.  Finally, the WordPress and Movable Type editors give you a tiny little window to compose your post.  It is functional, but it hardly lets you see your post as it will be shown in your final blog.

Writer solves all of these problems and goes way beyond.  The editor really is WYSIWYG.  It even uses the templates from your blog so that as you type you see exactly how your entry will work.  Native controls a-la word are a button-press away to make your posts look great.

But the biggest feature for me is the way Writer seamlessly integrates image handling.  WordPress does okay, but both WordPress and Movable Type force you to do a lot of work to insert an image.  Movable Type even makes you go through a special upload process not too dissimilar from using FTP.

With Writer, images are incredibly easy.  First, you can just drag-and-drop content from the web into your post.   I prefer to insert from a file because you have more options with manipulating the image afterward.  Here are the 3 panes of options provided by writer (click to see larger image):

Image Layout Properties Image Properties Image Effects Properties

Imaging features include:

  • One button positioning to Left/Right/Center in your content
  • Add Drop Shadow or PhotoPaper backgrounds to the image
  • Automatically add margins to the image
  • Have the image link to itself in a bigger form
  • Add watermarks to images
  • Add effects to images (black/white, emboss, blur, sepia, etc)

Outside of imaging and basic editing, Writer knocks out all the basic features too.  It can manage multiple blogs for you so that you can post to many sources from one simple app.  This is far better than having to navigate to multiple web-based admin screens.  Further, you can edit offline, perfect for composing those posts while you are on the plane or away from the net.  Writer even bundles a spell checker.

Finding drafts, prior posts, creating new posts is all a snap.  There is also a plugin API which I haven’t toyed with, but if you’ve got content, you may want to check it out so that other bloggers can more easily write about you.

All in all, it’s so much easier to work with Writer than it is to work with the Movable Type or WordPress web-based editors.  You’ll save a lot of time and everything will look a lot nicer too.

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