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Windows Live Writer, makes it easier for me to write crap

August 16, 2006

As the title says really. I like to get my ideas down and recorded somehow. Whether it be scribbled notes on paper, some cryptographic notes on my phone or text files on my PC, I have ideas and articles all over the place, most of which haven’t made it to this blog yet. The main reason being the workflow being so inadequate.

Bone of Contention I tried MSN Spaces before it was re-branded and updated to Windows Live Spaces. I posted three or four articles there but found the service to be slow to load up content, this made it a pain to preview pages and then edit them. Displaying images was another bone of contention (lol what a phrase); I found editing the source HTML easier and more effective compared to fighting with the cursor and dragging pictures through the text. Also, I had not mastered the art of uploading two images, finding the url to the larger image and anchoring it to the thumbnail image on the MSN Spaces service. Mainly due to the speed issue and the editing problem I headed over to WordPress.

WordPress is a nice clean service, no crap around the edges, only content that you choose is displayed. I didn’t have any appropriate hosted webspace to install my own copy of WordPress and customisations so I went with the free hosted version. Best of all, the free version has no adverts! Editing and making the page look better became easier but there were still quirks with regards to positioning text and images.

The biggest issue for me now was the break in workflow when using images. Sure, anytime I want to write an article or spout some rubbish, I can just open up my browser, goto my WordPress bookmark, sign-in and then after all that palava click on new post, type my rubbish and publish. Phew!

When I wanted to use an image that I had taken, made or looted, I can’t place a large 800 x 600 pixel picture in the middle of my article as it would make you readers angry, also it would break the text flow up and look ugly…oh, and it would add significantly to the load time of the page. After writing my post, I would then collate my pictures, large and small. From here I would have to resize each one individually, making a small thumbnail and a large web optimised version for when a user clicks on the thumbnail.

Wordpress - confusing image upload menuWith my pictures now ready, I have two options: upload images to my webspace or upload to WordPress. Uploading to the former means I have to fire up the FTP software or drag and drop pictures to the FTP server using the link in “My Network Connections” in Windows XP. Once that’s done I place the smaller thumbnail image into my article in WordPress and then link it to the larger image, also on my webspace.

 Using the latter method of uploading to WordPress, I don’t have to leave the editing area which is my browser window. WordPress also has a method of linking images that you have uploaded to the service but the popup menu interface for the images wasn’t too intuitive and I didn’t have a clue which option was selected or unselected.

I left the blogging arena until I had the time to write myself an application that would accept an image, resize it and produce an image thumbnail and link, ready to paste into my blog. Fortunately for me, and many others, Microsoft have released Windows Live Writer! This has solved all of my current problems with blogging.

Windows Live Writer Windows Live Writer is something like Microsoft Word with an eating disorder and blog connectivity. Open up WLW and you see a clear typing area with a large area for the title of your post. A very basic layout and an easy one to understand, just type and go! WLW has to be setup with a blog, enter your blog URL and it detects the service you use, if you aren’t using the default Windows Live Spaces. Once setup with your account details you are ready to post. It has all the standard text editing fare you get with blog editors, online and offline but the best bit for me was the seamless integration of images into the workflow. I can now simply drag a large image of anything into the main posting area, drag it around wherever I want it to be displayed, choose to have a watermark displayed on the image, have the image resized so it is thumbnail sized in the article and you can set the size of the image it links to.

I used Windows Live Writer on the previous post about another of Microsofts spawn, the Xbox 360 and it’s shoddy repair service (contracted out to Teleplan, I must add).Hopefully that post and this one look alot better than the WordPress edited versions where due to the tediousness, the article didnt look how I wanted it.

Check it out at http://windowslivewriter.spaces.live.com/

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