Windows Live Writer Makes Pretty Posting Pretty Easy

I saw a lot of cool new tools for blogging this past week at BlogWorld. One of the ones that really impressed me was Windows Live Writer from Microsoft, which apparently just came out of beta.

If you were at the show and you blinked, you missed it. The Microsoft guys were in an understated little 10×10 both — I don’t even think they were wearing Microsoft shirts. I think Microsoft kind of missed the boat on the event… may have been hedging their bets.

But as Chris Keating wrote about his experience setting up the booth:

The common response:  "WOW".

In a nutshell, what WLW does is make full WYSIWYG offline editing available to bloggers without knowing a lick of HTML. As anyone who’s ever worked with the visual editor in WordPress will tell you, it has some significant shortcomings, such as:

  • The CSS styles in the editor don’t match your final output.
  • Floating images flush on the right or left side while leaving a proper margin to the text.
  • Referencing a CSS style.
  • Embedding Flash, Javascript, etc. – things like pasted code not behaving correctly because line breaks are inserted.
  • Losing your work because you wrote online and the connection went down just before you hit Save.
  • Wanting to work offline in a WYSIWYG environment, but having a better publishing method than copy/pasting your HTML from Dreamweaver or something.

Windows Live Writer solves all that. It’s a full-fledged WYSIWYG interface, but some really smart thinking went into the design of it. I found it fairly easy to configure it for my four WordPress-based blogs (I’m writing this post using it), although the part where it prompts you for the RPC URL is a bit daunting if you have no idea what they’re talking about.

I’m not going to do a lengthy review — really, the best thing to do is just try it yourself (it’s free). If you find the WordPress visual editor clumsy and highly restrictive, and either don’t know how to do the HTML or don’t like being forced to in order to get a decent-looking post, then you’ll really appreciate Windows Live Writer.