Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Live Writer – First Impression

Well, for GG Hubble! I decided to give Microsoft’s Live Writer a swing. So as first impressions go, this really is quite first (I probably will never go into any depth because I don’t blog enough to do anything deep ;) ). Oh, and expect me to be excited about things that you might find mundane.

After telling the software that I already had a blog and entering my login info, it immediately downloaded various resources from the website and presented me with an editor:

Live Writer

As you can see, it determined the styles in use on my blog and formatted the editor to match. There’s a preview tab which, unlike Blogger’s preview, actually shows your new post as it will appear on the main blog page. As far as I can tell, everything else is pretty much self-explanatory.

I’m a bit surprised that it doesn’t use a ribbon, but I think the toolbar layout is something familiar to most web users. It reminds me of the various JavaScript WYSIWYG editors you see all over the web. The rest of the UI has sort of a Visual Studio meets Windows Explorer look about it which I find appealing.

I do wish that the source editor did syntax highlighting, but I don’t anticipate using the source editor much. Oh what’s this? “Add a plug-in…” I’ll have to check that out later.

Speaking of source, the code it outputs is fairly clean, semantic XHTML. It does get a tad defensive with some inline styles (only on the image so far), but there may be options or plugins to change that. I could edit it to use a custom class from the template if I wanted to.

So far I haven’t had to “fix” anything. With the blogger editor, I couldn’t get paragraphs to interact correctly, and constantly had to make minor source code adjustments. Oftentimes I’d simply give up and just write the HTML in another editor. Not anymore (so far)!

I always try to use proper Unicode code points for things like ellipses (… vs ... – three periods), quotes* (“angled” vs. "straight"), and apostrophes (don’t vs. don't). (Yes, I’ve got the windows ALT-# shortcuts for all these memorized.) Live writer does it for me!

Just before posting, I discovered the categories feature. It pulled all the tags I’ve used from blogger and included them with checkboxes.

So yeah, I’ll be using this for a while until something about it starts bugging me…

* I’ve often wished that early typewriter/computer character sets included angled quotes, if only for the sake of people who write programming/scripting language parsers.

GG Hubble!

I’ve been waiting with bated breath ever since the recent repair mission completed, and now we have pictures!