Home > Hardware and Software, Microsoft, Windows Vista, WordPress > Review: Windows Live Writer 1.0 (Beta)

Review: Windows Live Writer 1.0 (Beta)

July 20, 2007

NOTE: I’m using WLW to post this, so you can see a difference in the post style, layout, etc. 🙂

After WordPress? Matt blogged earlier this week regarding the latest Windows Live Writer (WLW) beta as a ?fantastic Windows blogging client?, I decided to give it another chance.  I had tried it, before settling (and paying for) BlogJet several months ago and just couldn?t get into it.  It still seemed clunky at the time and did a HORRID job of copy/pasting code from Visual Studio (a primary use for my blog).  If I didn?t have the aspect of code, I?d have probably stuck with it.

So, where are we today?

I installed, avoided all of the annoying Microsoft Live service popups, and associated it to my blog without any issues.  The new detection sequence is nice, but no real added advantage over BlogJet.  The XML-RPC works well and I credit WordPress for that, not a specific blogging engine.

If you click on the picture to the right; you?ll notice that it does a great job of importing the ?theme? of my blog in, creating a more WYSIWYG feeling.  BlogJet can?t do this, but it?s never really affected me.

You?ll also notice, as Matt pointed out, that the new interface recreates the WordPress dashboard within the application?easy access to stats, comments, etc.  I really like this as it helps recreate the interface on the local machine I?m on.

I also like the little things: Word-esque spell checking (you get used to the red underlines–I know I do at least), image effects, and such. 


I also really… really… REALLY like the “insert map” feature.

Insert Map, while I can’t see myself using it a lot, is truly cool; it allows you to type in an address, connect to Virtual Earth, and mash up a map right here in the blog.  It’d be great for blogs that discuss events and such.  Here’s an example of the inner city area of Wichita, KS (where I work).  Can you see my office?😀

 

 

So, we have pictures, graphics, and pretty layout–we’re starting to sound like an Apple commercial.  So what about the real stuff–what about code?

Blogging About Code in WLW

WLW has the ability to have plugins–which is a huge bonus over BlogJet (extensibility is GOOD!) and there are a few that are specifically targeted to pasting in Visual Studio code.  Neat.  They claim to fully support the color coding and translate the odd rich text into HTML.  Right now, to get the code to look “pretty”, I copy it from Visual Studio to Word 2007, redo the spacing (never need to redo the actual text or coloring, that works perfect), and paste it in.

So, let’s take a method I was dinking with yesterday for a newsgroup post.  Using “Insert From Visual Studio”, we get:

    private static string CreateJustifiedText(string stringValue1, string stringValue2, int maxLength)
    {
        int stringLengths = stringValue1.Length + stringValue2.Length;
        int dotsNeeded = maxLength - stringLengths;
        string dots = "";
        for (int i = 0; i < dotsNeeded; i++)
        {
            dots += ".";
        }
        return stringValue1 + dots + stringValue2;
    }

Okay, so it surrounds it with <code> tags, which is OK… but doesn’t do anything about the formatting or width of the post.  It also doesn’t pay attention to the left alignment, leaving it indented (with spaces).

The second tool, “Insert Source Code Snippet” does a bit nicer of a job… but I’m not fond of how it recolors everything–especially the neon colors that it seems to use. 

Code Snippet

0:   private static string CreateJustifiedText(string stringValue1, string stringValue2, int maxLength)
1:   {
2:  
int stringLengths = stringValue1.Length + stringValue2.Length;
3:  
int dotsNeeded = maxLength - stringLengths;
4:  
string dots = "";
5:  
for (int i = 0; i < dotsNeeded; i++)
6:   {
7:   dots +=
".";
8:   }
9:  
return stringValue1 + dots + stringValue2;
10:   }
</PRE

 

I do like the cool (read: spiffy) boxes that it creates and the odd overshadowing effect.  It is, however, still formatted incorrectly.  The biggest downside is still that the formatting flows off… and that you can’t insert text UNDER the box… I had to remove the code (just now) and readd it after adding additional space here to type.  Bleh.

Finally, pasting code with the simple “as formatted HTML”. 

private static string CreateJustifiedText(string stringValue1, string stringValue2, int maxLength) { int stringLengths = stringValue1.Length + stringValue2.Length; int dotsNeeded = maxLength – stringLengths; string dots = “”; for (int i = 0; i < dotsNeeded; i++) { dots += “.”; } return stringValue1 + dots + stringValue2; }

Eww.  Just… eww.  It appears to lose all of it’s formatting (or just gives up).  Bad deal.

Final Thoughts

So, with the exception of the code issues, will I stick with WLW a bit?  Unfortunately, probably not.  While I’m all about free, being able to post up code is one of the primary reasons for my blogging–and the tools it provides right now just cannot do that.  We’ll see if, eventually, the Live team can come up with a blogging tool that is not only “pretty,” but functional for coders.

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