It’s no secret that I am a big fan of the WordPress blogging platform but I do have one gripe with it.
The built-in editor you use for adding and formatting blog posts is pretty cramped and not all that pleasant to use. There are WordPress plug-ins you can install to replace it, but I found another very nice option, from a somewhat unexpected source.
It’s called Windows Live Writer and is available as a free download from Microsoft. It was no doubt meant to be used for creating posts for Windows Live blogs but, happily, it supports many other platforms, including WordPress.
You start off by downloading it and installing it in the usual Windows way. You then tell it the details of your blog, or blogs, including the address on the Internet, the password, and username.
It then imports of certain details from the blog including the particular template style you’re using so that, while you are composing in Live Writer, your blog post will look more or less as it will once it is posted onto the Internet.
You can add as many blogs as you like to Live Writer and switch easily amongst them by selecting the one you want from a list. You do have to be careful because it is easy to post to the wrong blog, if you have more than one.
You create new posts by clicking a button, entering the post title in the space provided, and then typing the text for your post. Live Writer has the look of the simple wordprocessor about it, with a nice clean and uncluttered layout.
You get a number of formatting controls similar to those you would find in a wordprocessor. including different fonts, bulleted or numbered lists, tables and block quotes. There are also easy controls for adding pictures and videos to your posts.
A slightly different control is the Read More one, which breaks your blog post at the point you insert it. You use this when you want to display the title and the first few lines of your blog on the main blog page and have your reader click the link to view the rest of the post.
Live Writer supports plug-ins which extend the program’s capabilities and perform any number of specialised tasks. Extra plug-ins are easy to find and install and some of the ones that caught my eye include a tool which will include pictures from Flickr in your blog posts, and one which creates links to items on sale at Amazon.
Along the way, you can save draft copies of your blog post to your local computer, or the blog itself and, when you’re happy, you can click the button to publish the post to your blog.
Another very nice feature of Live Writer is that it provides easy-to-find links which you can click to go to the online admin pages of your blog, deal with comments that your blog may have received from readers, and view the post once it has been published.
Windows Live is really a great piece of software and has given me some food for thought. I have not been at all excited by Microsoft in recent times and would have bet that their glory days were over.
And yet, it seems that they are back doing cool things again. Live Writer is one example, there is Windows 7, which is really cool, and early reports on Windows 7 Mobile are extremely positive.
Am I imagining things, or has the company got some new energy from somewhere? The next couple of months and years are certainly going to be interesting.