Blog posting made easy: Windows Live Writer

I’d venture to say the hard part in blogging is coming up with good ideas and finding the time to turn them into attractive blog posts. However, that final stage of laying the post out in your blogging platform can add some friction to the process.

Most blogging platforms have some form of web-based WYSIWYG editor, however these do have some limitations:

  • Being web-based there is a danger you can lose your work if you lose your connection or your browser craps out
  • Functionality can be limited, eg. that table you’ve spent an hour constructing may show up as little more than garbled text
  • The editor may not deal well with formatting from a word processing document, such as MS Word
  • If you want to share your content in multiple locations, you will have to login to many different pages

Here’s where Windows Live Writer can come in. This small desktop client from Microsoft functions as a stripped down version of MS Word optimized for creating blog posts.

You can use it directly to file your thoughts and save them locally as drafts for later publishing. You can get funky with your layouts by adding pictures, tables, video,  and even maps! Being a Microsoft product, it plays nicely with Word and does a great job of stripping out all those annoying formatting tags you see when copying Word content into most editors. For the power blogger, it supports multiple accounts and makes it easy to take a post written for one location and instantly publish it elsewhere.

Sold? Want to get started?

Here’s a cheat sheet for those of you blogging on developerWorks. BTW, if you aren’t blogging here, but would like to, sign up now to see if your blog idea is accepted. If you are using another platform (such as WordPress or Blogger), most of this still applies, although you will need to alter the URL for your blog.

Setup

Download Windows Live Writer

Once installed, it will start a wizard to connect to your blog.

Use the following settings:

What blog service do you use? Select ‘’Other blog service’

Web address of your blog: Enter ‘https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/mydeveloperworks/blogs/?lang=en

Username/Password: (same combination you use to login to developerWorks)

At this stage it should automatically find the blog. If it doesn’t and asks you for a blogging service, use the following details:

Type of blog: Select ‘Atom’

Remote posting URL: Enter ‘https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/mydeveloperworks/blogs/?lang=en

You will then be asked whether the client can make a temporary post so it can detect the publishing formatting settings. Select ‘Yes’.

That’s it! You will be dropped into the editor and you are now ready to post.

Posting

You’ll notice that the editor is very close to MS Word and you can do most standard formatting using the top toolbars. You will also there find options to add images, video, tables, etc.

A word of warning about images: if you want to upload local files (rather than link to images already on the web), you may want to upload your post as a draft and add these from within your web editor. Sometimes Windows Live Writer can struggle to upload images directly to your blog.

Remember to specify categories (at the bottom of the post editor) to help you organize your content.

If everything looks good, go ahead and hit ‘Publish’! If you’re squemish by nature or have any doubts, you may want to go ‘Save Draft’ > ‘Post Draft to Blog’ just to make sure all looks fine before going live.

Happy blogging! 

(BTW, in case you are wondering, this post was created in Windows Live Writer!)