For this blog post, I thought I would talk about the desktop blog editor tool I use to write my articles. I have found that it helps me when I am authoring for my developer’s blog and when I write for the Wiki Ninjas.
For writing my articles, I prefer a tool that is also an HTML editor. I find for me the best one is Windows Live Writer. I have been using WLW ever since I started writing my developer’s blog. I learned about it through Scott Hanselman, who has been a big proponent of the tool.
WLW can be downloaded individually or as part of Windows Essentials. Note that support for Windows Essentials 2012 expires in January 2017. The tool only officially supports Windows 7 but I am running it on Windows 10 Anniversary Edition with no problems.
I use WLW to create my articles for the TechNet Wiki but since I also simulcast all of my articles to my WordPress blog it works well for both. In fact, it works with WordPress so well I can download a copy of my current WordPress template and import it into the tool. This allows me to see what my articles look like locally before I upload it to my blog.
It has built-in photo tools that allow me to resize my images. It also has other great things like auto-linking and spell check. I can sync with my blog to get a current list of my categories and tags. When I publish to my WordPress blog, I can upload the text, images, categories and tags with one-click publishing. I have the same functionality when I upload embedded YouTube videos. I can then clean up any final issues within my WordPress draft before I finally click publish.
When creating articles solely for the Wiki, I use WLW as an HTML editor. This allows me to format text with paragraph tags and to set headers with Heading tags. WLW produces clean HTML, much cleaner than Microsoft Word. I then copy and paste my HTML code into the TechNet Wiki Editor and upload my images individually.
When active development ceased on WLW (the latest release came out in 2012) and it looked like the tool would be mothballed, an active community petitioned Microsoft to Open Source the code. OLW was forked from Windows Live Writer and the new tool was launched one year ago.
Open Live Writer can be downloaded from GitHub and you can also send your own code changes back to the product. Since it’s an open source project under the .NET Foundation there is an active community of volunteers around it.
I use Windows Live Writer for my articles but I have used Open Live Writer too. I have nothing against OLW but have never seen the need to upgrade when WLW works well. If I were looking at the tool today, I would go with the OLW version, especially since support for Live Essentials is ending. However, if you have an older version of the Windows OS (officially OLW only supports Windows 10) you may need the Live Essentials version. There is an FAQ here with more info.
So, to recap, I use Live Writer to create my articles for both the Wiki and my own blog. I can create my article once while retaining a local copy for review later on. The only thing that differs is how I get the text and images to both my blog and the Wiki Ninjas one.
Now, let’s hear from you! Which tools do you use to compose your TechNet Wiki articles? Leave a comment below to let me know.