Scott Hanselman

Windows Live Writer and DasBlog 1.9

August 13, '06 Comments [7] Posted in DasBlog
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Microsoft just released Windows Live Writer, an offline blogging editor tool.

It's beta, so there's a few bugs.

  • The first glaring one is that if you have a lot of categories on your blog, the categories dropdown goes forever and continues down past the toolbar.
  • Another irritating one is that only GIF and JPG show up in the file types list when adding an image to a post - um, PNG?
  • There's also no syntax highlighting or auto-formatting for the HTML view.

All in all, it looks a AWFUL lot like BlogJet, my preferred blog editor, down to the properties tab. The irony is, of course, that all these editors basically use the same DHTML Editing stuff built into IE or some flavor of it, so the actual editing experience will feel much the same.

Here's a list of other VERY good blog editors that I've used personally. I posted about a few last year as well, but John Forsythe has the complete list of ones that work well with DasBlog.

  • Zoundry is also a great blog writer that supports DasBlog swimmingly.
  • Rocketpost is nice, clean and lightweight and has some nice Photo effects.
  • WB Editor has a fresh and clean interface, but a smallish text editing area at low resolutions.

One important thing to note about Windows Live Writer (and Zoundry as well) is the support for RSD - Really Simple Discovery. Omar added this to the current source tree of DasBlog recently. This will be in DasBlog 1.9, but, as always, you can compile the source yourself and get it now.

RSD worked great during the setup phase with Windows Live Writer as seen in the screenshots below. The writer detected DasBlog's capabilities and API support and configured itself without asking me a single technical question. Nice.

Windows Live Writer also has an SDK for extending the application.

Here's my final thought - why would a Product Group that offers a blogging editor and has their own blog, ask users to go to an MSN Group to offer feedback?  Isn't that kind of not-bloggy?  Remember earlier in your post where it was said blogging was a two-way medium?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Monday, August 14, 2006 1:25:48 AM UTC
Another interesting thing to point out is Word 2007 supports blog editing as well. There don't appear to be too many features basic publish, re-publish but it is interesting. So far it seems to produce very excellant XHTML as an output and support most of the major blog engines.
Chris
Monday, August 14, 2006 4:55:11 AM UTC
For the love of Pete, when will 1.9 be released?! :P
Monday, August 14, 2006 4:31:01 PM UTC
Scott, I noticed a funny post in your feed. It said something like "This is a temporary post that was not deleted. Please delete this manually. (c3eaf4ab-0941-4881-9d17-d4f62bde069e)".

I guess this is how they integrate styles into the web preview. Maybe by taking a diff?
Monday, August 14, 2006 9:20:22 PM UTC
[I work on Writer]

Hi Scott,

We're taking feedback just about any way we can get it, whether thats blog posts like yours, comments on our blog, emails from people, _or_ feedback on MSN groups. (I haven't received any phone calls (yet) :) ). We don't expect all of our feedback on Groups- we just figured the more ways that people can tell us about their experience using Writer, the better!

-charles
Monday, August 14, 2006 9:59:47 PM UTC
Regarding the temporary post- Haacked is right that this is used as a part of our editting template detection. We basically create the temporary post, and when we are done with it (pretty much immediately), we try to delete it. If for some reason we think we didn't delete the post, we show an error message asking that you manually delete the post. This will help prevent Writer from leaving a spurrious post on your blog without your knowledge.

There was a lot of debate internally just before we shipped this beta about whether we should ask before we make this temporary post. We ended up deciding not to ask before posting it for a couple of reasons:

- If we don't make this post, a major piece of functionality would be broken
- We would correctly delete the post right away, so it would only appear very briefly
- It would be difficult to explain what were doing in the configuration wizard, and we wanted to keep the configuration process as simple as possible.

Hopefully we got this one right- please let us know one way or another!

-charles
Tuesday, August 15, 2006 12:09:15 AM UTC
I've become a big fan of PostXing (http://postxing.net/blog/), which works great with dasBlog.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006 11:53:10 AM UTC
I am a bit suprised that Microsoft pursued something like this. I'm sure it will be a great tool, but there are already many editors out there, and several really good ones. I'd be curious to find out what feature(s) the Live team feels were deciding factors in developing their own tool.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.