Monday Feb 16, 2009

Live Writer I (overview)

I have already published a post on Windows Live Writer by Microsoft but with the intention of putting an entire and moderately comprehensive tutorial set for Live Writer.  In that light I present this first (or rather second part) of my Live Writer series.  This post will pertain to the basics about what the program is, where to get it and so on.   The next post will pertain to the installation of the program.


Live Writer is in basic terms a blog writing program in much the same way that Microsoft Word is a paper writing program.  In its own words “I am a desktop application for publishing to blogs and work with almost any blog provider in the world including Windows Live Spaces, Blogger, Wordpress and more.”  For those of you who don’t know what a blog is read up on it here on Technorati, or here in Wordpress.  Blogs in basic terms are websites that display their articles in reverse order of publication – that is articles are published from most recent to eldest.  In that way it can be used as a diary or as a review site or even simply a normal website!  Writer is a very easy to use, simple to set up and helpful program.  It has every feature most users will need and democratises the power of publishing to everyone and not just the tech-savvy.  On top of all that its free so available for everyone to download.

Writer is part of the Windows Live suite, which will mean nothing to most people until explained.  Messenger or Msn as its commonly known is part of this suite as well as the old Hotmail brand, now Windows Live Mail.  Windows Live is Microsoft’s answer to cloud computing – that is using programs that are not on your computer but on a computer you connect to through the use of the internet, generally your internet browser.  As part of this Live Writer hopes to allow the user access and publish blogs simply and easily – if you have ever wanted to make a website now is the best and easiest time.

Most free-hosted sites these days have their own interfaces with which you can manage and run your blog.  Running multiple blogs I use a few different varieties and with the exception of Wordpress they all are confusing and less than adequate at times.  Let me state again Wordpress is definitely my recommended choice!  Outside of my Wordpress sites I generally use Live Writer to publish all of my other blogs.  After looking about the only other program online I have found that does this from your computer and not the internet is Zoundry which is still in Beta (though that word means less and less these days!)  As I haven’t actually tried it out myself here is a review from elsewhere.



Much touted elements are the simple way in which it helps you publish videos to the web either through Soapbox or YouTube and then ability to work with them.  As well as the ability to resize and the basics.  They also advertise their picture abilities and the ease of publishing a series of photos, like a photo album.  For me though is the ease in which a map, through Virtual Earth, can be inserted and selected.  It has three tabs so you can switch between edit mode, source mode and in ways best of all preview mode – showing a full preview including site theme.

Plug-ins.  Those little ad-ons used to adapt a program for customised and personal use.  The official site very amusingly only lists one plug-in for Firefox.  No plug-ins for its Writer itself and none for Internet Explorer, although they probably exist for the forthcoming Internet Explorer 8.  An independent site Windows Live Writer Plugins is a small site but with a nice selection of plugins and other information – the portable information is interesting.

Speaking of which comes one of the major flaws of Live Writer, its dependence on the .Net infrastructure.  This is ok with bigger systems – laptops and up but smaller than this and there are problems.

It can publish a blog on most common platforms including Windows Live Spaces, Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad, Wordpress, Community_Server,, JournalHome, MetaWeblog, Movable Type as well as supporting any  RSD (Really Simple Discoverability) system.  For those starting out, I would suggest begin with this tool, it will quickly and simply set you up a blog relieving all that messy side.  Until you comfortably understand what you are at you are able to leave the browser out of the equation altogether.


The greatest help for using Live Writer I found online was in its own pages.  It has a video tutorial set that takes you through all the major issues you need to cover.  Its also nice to see that the program itself has its own blog.  Its funny how so many blog sites don’t!  As well as that three of the team members have their blogs listed on the main page as well - Becky, Joe and Ron - and its own Live Space, Microsoft’s partial equivalent of sites such as Facebook.

Microsoft in 2008 joined the Open Source Alliance and expressed a definite interest in moving forward in that direction.  Part of that process is collaborating with the public and opening up the programs to be developed further.  As part of that they have released their SDK, the system development kits where people can work on parts of the code.


Below is a Google result for the top searched results for Live Writer.  All being from Microsoft websites except for result four, Wikipedia.  The majority of the Microsoft sites are much of a muchness and all link back through each other with the exception of the final site which is more official and no nonsense download information page not at the Live project pages.




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