Oh, the Blogosphere is alive today with the announcement of the beta release of Windows Live Writer. This is an offline WYSIWYG blog post editor that was released by Microsoft at a very attractive price: Free. (This is a beta version, but I assume that the final product will also be free).
Like everyone else, I jumped on the bandwagon to try it out. In fact, you're looking at my first "TEST POST" (kind of the "Hello World"-type of post that everyone's been polluting my RSS feeds with).
During setup, it asked me for the URL of my blog, and a username/password to access the blogger interface as. I wasn't really surprised that Blogger.com was one of the supported blogging platforms, but what did surprise me was my first experience of editing a post.
You see, it pulled down my blog template (including embedded stylesheets, etc), and provided a true WYSIWYG experience as I'm editing. For example, here's a screenshot. Notice the blog post title at the top replicated in the same style as my blog's website:
What's more is that there's a Preview mode that incorporates my full blog template, including other posts:
And now the real test of its performance: I'm going to paste some code from Visual Studio into the blog post to see what happens:
double GE = 398600.8; // Earth gravitational constant value
double KM_PER_EARTH_RADII = 6378.135;
double KE = Math.Sqrt(3600.0 * GE /
(KM_PER_EARTH_RADII * KM_PER_EARTH_RADII * KM_PER_EARTH_RADII));
double NO = tle.RevolutionsPerDay * 2 * Math.PI / 1440.0;
double IO = tle.Inclination * Math.PI / 180.0;
double EO = tle.Eccentricity;
double WO = tle.ArgumentPerigee * Math.PI / 180.0;
double OMEGAO = tle.RightAscension * Math.PI / 180.0;
double MO = tle.MeanAnomaly * Math.PI / 180.0;
Hmm, that was anti-climactic. It just grabbed the plaintext instead of the rich text. (I had to manually put in the <hr> tags that you see rendered as lines above and below the source code...) Oh well.
Now for the things that I don't like:
- It looks like the only option that I have for publishing images from WLW is to use a FTP server somewhere (since Blogger's image hosting service is kind of an add-on to the main blogging interface). I don't have FTP access to an image server, so I'll need to add images after the publish.
- The "Insert Map" feature uses Windows Live Local (yeah, duh). However, it also tries to insert a thumbnail image of the map into the blog post, which leads to an error when publishing (see the previous bullet).
- Blog posts and drafts are stored locally on your hard drive under My Documents/My Weblog Posts. However, the .wpost file is binary (i.e., uses a Binary Formatter to serialize the post) and cannot be used/modified outside of the scope of WLW. I would have like to seen the ability to Save As html, etc.
That's it for now. I'm sure that it's only time before we see a lot of cool add-ins, like an Upload to Flickr feature that will solve the problem of image publishing. So far, it seems to be a cool little utility (disclosure: I have not used any other offline editor, like BlogJet, etc, so this is my first experience creating a blog post without using Blogger's web interface).