Windows Live Writer’s future is uncertain at best. Microsoft recently announced the end of the Windows Live brand, and Windows Live Writer was noticeably absent from the list of Windows Live products that would be renamed. In response to concerns, all Microsoft is saying about Windows Live Writer is it will “work great on Windows 8” – not whether development is being halted or not. With such an uncertain future, you might be wondering what alternatives are out there.
One thing that became clear to me while writing this post is how few alternatives there really are – many older blog editors have had their websites shut down and have vanished from the Internet. Windows Live Writer was (and still is) the best desktop blogging client out there. It’s a shame they seem to be moving to kill it after cornering the market.
WordPress Built-In Editor
While many of us here at MakeUseOf are Windows Live Writer fans – personally, I think the easy addition of images without going through WordPress’s upload form is a killer feature – quite a few of us think that WordPress has become good enough. If you haven’t recently tried the built-in editor in WordPress, you might be surprised just how slick it’s gotten.
If you’re using a modern browser (not Internet Explorer 9, which doesn’t implement the file upload API), you can drag and drop images directly onto the file upload pane to quickly upload them. This saves some time, although it’s not quite as convenient as drag and dropping images directly into Windows Live Writer without accessing any dialogs.
The built-in editor is a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor, just like Windows Live Writer, so writing and formatting your posts is pretty easy. One feature that it lacks is automatic recovery of the post you’re writing if your browser crashes. For this, you’ll want to try the Lazarus extension – available for both Chrome and Firefox — which restores text if your browser crashes. You’ll also want to manually create back up copies of the posts you submit, just to be safe – when you write a post in Windows Live Writer, you get a local backup on your computer.
Zoundry Raven seems to be one of the most popular desktop blogging clients after Windows Live Writer. It’s a pretty decent application, although it isn’t quite as slick as Windows Live Writer. As a tech blogger who works with screenshots a lot, I was disappointed that you can’t drag-and-drop image files directly onto Zoundry Raven’s editing window. You have to use the Insert Image File option and browse to the image file on your system.
Zoundry Raven has some features Windows Live Writer doesn’t. It can be installed as a portable app, for convenient on-the-go use. It also includes a media storage wizard that allows you to upload images to a different location – including Flickr, Picasa Web Albums, ImageShack, or even a custom FTP server.
BlogDesk is another decent option – in fact, Tina’s used it to write posts here. BlogDesk has a focus on simplicity and distraction-free writing. Unfortunately, this might make it a bit limited if you want to format posts with more complicated formatting. For example, I couldn’t find an easy way to format certain lines as headers without inserting the HTML by hand. BlogDesk also failed the drag-and-drop-an-image-file test. You have to use the Insert Image option here, too – although BlogDesk does provide some image-editing options, allowing you to crop and resize the image when inserting it.
ScribeFire is an extension for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera. It allows you to blog right from your browser, a feature which Ryan enjoyed in his review. ScribeFire’s split-pane interface is particularly useful if you blog about things you find online – just select some text on a web page, right click, and select Blog This. You can add your take on the subject and easily send a post straight to your blog. If you want to blog more often, ScribeFire is a great way to reduce the friction.
Ryan’s also written about using ScribeFire to create blog post templates and write quick blog posts.
Should You Switch?
The best solution may be to stick with Windows Live Writer itself for the moment. In fact, I wrote this post in Windows Live Writer – it still works fine, and Microsoft assures us that it will even work fine in Windows 8. Still, it seems like Windows Live Writer has come to the end of the road – it will likely become increasingly dated and stale from here on out. What a shame.
Don’t discount the built-in editor if you use WordPress, though – it’s surprisingly good.
How do you blog? Do you use the built-in editor, are you a Windows Live Writer fan, or do you prefer another editor?