Bluehost: Web hosting from $3.95/month. Sign Up

Review of Windows Live Writer and Textpattern

Posted on by Clive Walker in Web Development Textpattern

Windows Live Writer is a blogging tool (in beta) that lets you post to a blog from your desktop without using your blog admin. For a few reasons, I was interested in trying it out with Textpattern.

Note: I am using Textpattern 4.0.3, which is the most recent version (as of today's date).

I followed the instructions here, firstly by installing the XML-RPC interface for Textpattern, then setting up Live Writer with my Txp username and password. You need to tell LW to use the custom Movable Type API during the set-up. That's because Textpattern is not supported out of the box by Live Writer but using the custom MT API should ensure that Txp and LW can work together.

After the set-up, LW recognized my existing blog posts without any problems. It's possible to view and edit existing posts (5, 10, 15 or more) but posts written using Textile (Textpattern's default editing mode) will only display with their Textile tags showing. I have mainly used LW for creating new posts.

A promising start

First impresssions of LW were pretty good. I like the simple editing interface and it has a familiar Microsoft look and feel. There are the normal text editing tools such as bold, text color, bulleted lists, spell check, create link, and insert image.

The two web preview modes are excellent

There are four viewing or editing modes called Normal (edit text), HTML Code view (edit code), Web Layout (edit text with blog styles applied) and Web Preview (full preview on your blog). The two web preview modes are excellent and allow you to see exactly how your post will look before you publish it.

Inserting an image into a blog post was straightforward and it's possible to link to an image as well. The default image insert mode seems to add a link to the image automatically (which I don't want because I am uploading to the same server) but the image properties sidebar allows you to specify 'No Link'. Various image effects are also available - but I have not used these. I tried some simple image manipulations (align for example) and this works fine if you are not too fussy about the code created.

Note: I chose FTP image upload mode in my LW set-up and specified my Txp server because the Txp XML-RPC plugin does not support image upload.

Gripes

This brings me to the main disadvantage of using LW with Txp. The HTML code produced is a mixed bag - some of it is a product of a few years ago. There's no way of inserting CSS styles (without going into code view) and if you change text colour, for example, LW inserts font tags. Blimey. I haven't seen those for a while. Most people won't really give two hoots about this and LW is aimed at the MSN Live Spaces crowd as much as anyone else. However, I found the lack of support for stylesheets and the use of deprecated tags particularly disappointing. The odd thing is that image margins seem to be added using more modern inline style tags.

Live Writer does not suppport XHTML code

Unfortunately, LW does not support XHTML either which means that any posts created with it will not follow the XHTML standard that Txp supports by default. It's not a great idea to mix HTML with XHTML if you can avoid it. It would be nice if LW had a way of changing the code editing preferences.

Of course, I can edit in code layout view to get round most of these problems but that's not why I want to use LW. It sorta defeats one of my objectives which is to make it as easy as possible to post to Txp (particularly for clients).

One other moan is that, although Txp's categories were recognised without problem, publishing a post seemed to lose the category information.

Summary

Overall, I'd be happy to use LW for simple blog posts or for creating draft posts whenever I feel like it. I really like the Web Layout and Web Preview modes but, as a web developer, LW did not achieve the code standards that I want from a desktop blogging tool that can be used with Textpattern.

LW is in beta so I expect it to be fully launched in the coming months. I intend to keep a watchful eye on how it develops.

Further reading: Live Writer MSN Group | Another review of Live Writer with Txp

Comments

  • 24 Sep 2006 15:11:29

    Nice article. You should post it to the txp forums if you´ve not done it already :)

  • 25 Sep 2006 18:52:20

    Shame it interferes with the style and doesn’t just stick to content, particularly when working with a CSS template tool like TXP but everytime Microsoft go WYSIWYG it’s the least we can expect.

    I wonder what the Microsoft Task Force make of it?

  • 25 Sep 2006 20:20:51

    Ed. There’s a thread on the Live Writer Group forum about XHTML support. The official response is weak, I’d have to say, but at least a few people have added their comments in support. Personally, I feel that this is a missed opportunity for the LW team, particularly when they say that they want LW to work with a wide range of blogs.
    I don’t know much about the MSTF but they probably have a stack of things to do already!

  • 25 Sep 2006 21:01:12

    I don’t know much about the MSTF but they probably have a stack of things to do already!

    Well the idea is that they work with Microsoft developers of authoring tools such as Live Writer to develop better standards compliant applications. If Microsoft see fit to write software that makes it easier to publish to the web, and that’s a good thing, they should at least take responsibility for the quality of the output.

    Another reinforcement of the fact that the ‘war is far from over’.

    Quote from the forum: Thanks for the feedback, XHTML support isn’t right around the corner or anything but we’ll continue to keep it in mind.

    What’s the surprise about XHTML? When was it published?

Leave a comment

A simple question that helps prevent automated form fillers.

© 2016 Clive Walker