Windows Live Writer

The WordPress web-interface for writing blog posts is OK, but I do miss some of my favorite word-processing features. The blog-posting facility in Word 2007 didn’t impress me, but I’m on a Microsoft kick this week while trying Windows 7, so I thought I’d take Windows Live Writer for a spin.

Although it presents you the option to start a blog on Windows Live, it claims to play nicely with WordPress’s publishing API. I was skeptical, since I host my own blog (powered by WordPress), rather than having it on WordPress.com, but I’ve so far been impressed. Setup was very easy and totally automated: I just gave it my login credentials and the URL to the main site. It quickly discovered that I hadn’t enabled the publishing API, but helpfully gave me the URL of the options page to enable it. It also detected and downloaded my theme so it can give a full preview of what my post will look like on the site.

The botton of the window has three tabs: “Edit,” “Preview,” and “Source.” “Edit” is a WYSIWYG text editor, which helpfully defaults to the appropriate fonts for my blog, but doesn’t include the sidebar or other elements from my theme. “Preview” shows the post as it will look on the page—complete with sidebar and the previous post sitting underneath it. “Source” gives the HTML underneath the post, and unlike previous Microsoft forays into web publishing, it gives clean, sensibly formatted HTML.

pancake bunny

Inserting images is also painless, as illustrated by this bunny with a pancake on its head.  The one thing it is missing in terms of the WordPress system is a way to set the tags for the post.  There’s a tool for inserting tags, but all that does is insert some HTML into the post for tagging to external sites like Technorati or del.ico.us.  All in all, it’s a welcome and viable alternative to using the Web-based tool.

UPDATE (13 Jan): As helpfully pointed out in comments, there is a way to set the tags for the post.  It’s in the post Properties, accessible with <F2>.  Win!

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