Social Enterprise

How do I ... blog from the Windows desktop with Live Writer?

Windows Live Writer gives you the tools that allow you to work with your blog on the fly, and do it without having to have a network connection. Jack Wallen explains how it works.

For many of us, part of our job requires keeping a blog. If you're like me, you have so many things to do, finding the time, in one sitting, to complete and publish a blog is a little difficult. With that in mind it's nice to have the tools that allow you to work with your blog on the fly and do it without having to have a network connection.

One such tool that allows this is Microsoft Windows Live Writer. Live Writer is part of the Windows Live family, which also consists of the following tools:

  • Messenger: A much-expanded instant messaging client.
  • Mail: Keep track of multiple e-mail accounts in one program.
  • Photo Gallery: Manage all your photos from your camera to your PC.
  • Movie Maker Beta: Create movies from your pictures and video clips.
  • Family Safety: Decide how much safety you need for Web surfing.
  • Toolbar: Add easy access to Windows Live and Windows search from Internet Explorer.

Most of the tools above would be more suited for home use. Obviously one could take advantage of Messenger, Mail, and Toolbar in a business setting. Family Safety, Movie Maker, and Photo Gallery are home user only as they have little to no features ready for business or enterprise computing. Live Writer, however, is one of those tools that you can easily integrate into your daily business blogging life.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.

Getting and installing

Normally at this point I would say download the .exe file, double-click it, and install it. But Window Live throws just a couple of minor curve balls at you during the installation. It's nothing huge, but it's worth noting.

The first step is to download the .exe file from the Live Writer page. The file will be wlsetup-Web.exe. Double-click it to begin the installation process. The first window will ask you which pieces of Window Live you want to install (Figure A).

Figure A

You can install all the Windows Live software, but you won't need them all.
Make your choices and click Install. The next step wants you to configure a few installation settings (Figure B). In this window you will see that you can safely uncheck all four entries. This might be especially important on a business PC.

Figure B

You might want to select Help Improve Search Results if you're interested in helping Microsoft, but take heed that your data will be collected.

Once you click Continue, Live Writer will begin the installation. But, unlike most applications, you will have to do some configuration before the installation completes.

Configuration

The first step in your configuration is to click Next in the intro screen. Once you are beyond that, the real configuration begins. Your first step is to select the blog service you use. Figure C shows the different selections you can choose from.

Figure C

Yes, you can create a blog using Live Writer, but most business users will already have a blog set up.
The next window (Figure D) requires the address, username, and password for your blog. Once you fill this out and click Next, the installer will contact your site and verify your credentials. You can have Live Writer remember your password. Depending on the security of your company, you may not want to check this box.

Figure D

If you are behind a proxy, click the Set Proxy link to configure your proxy server.
If, by chance, Live Writer was not able to detect your blog settings (in most cases it will), you will see another window (Figure E). In this window you will be able to select the provider and enter the remote posting URL for your blog. The remote URL will be something you will have to get from the administrator of your blog.

Figure E

Before you try this step, you might want to click the Back button and reenter your information (in case you mis-typed a password or username).

After you finish this step, Live Writer might take a while to authenticate to your blog. It will also ask if it can publish a blog entry to ensure the proper template. Although Live Writer says it will immediately remove that blog entry, if you are working on a corporate level, you won't want to let the installer do this. Besides, not doing it will not affect Live Writer's ability to post properly.

Your installation is complete. You are now ready to start blogging.

Creating an entry

You will be happy to know that creating an entry is very simple. The first thing you need to do is run the application. In the Start menu you will see a new submenu for Windows Live. Click on this submenu and then click Windows Live Writer to open up the application. When Live Writer opens, you will be greeted by what looks like the editor portion of the blog manager (Figure F).

Figure F

You should feel right at home with this tool.

All editing is very straightforward and should be fairly similar to what you are accustomed to with your live blog tools. Once you finish entering your blog, you have a few options. You can:

  • Save local draft: Save a copy on your machine.
  • Post draft to blog: Save a draft to your blog but do not publish.
  • Post draft and edit online: Save a draft to your blog and open it online for editing.
  • Publish to blog: Publish your entry immediately.

It's that simple.

Final thoughts

Blogs have become a staple for today's online life -- even for the corporate sector. If you need a tool to help manage your blog, Windows Live Writer might very well be the ideal tool.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

5 comments
Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Is blogging part of your work routine? What tools do you use for blogging?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Like Twitter, I perceive corporate blogging as useful to those who interact with the public, but can't perceive any workplace value for me personally.

jlwallen
jlwallen

i know some of the regulars in the open source section blog.

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