Sunday, February 6, 2011

Windows Live Writer WLW 2011 Portable

I finally gave in and decided to try WLW 2011. I wasn't in a hurry, as my old Portable WLW ran just fine on virtually any Windows machine, unencumbered by Vista or 7 only limitations.

I am quite impressed. The new WLW has a lot of minor improvements, while the major ones are mostly cosmetic. I was unable to find a changelog for this product, so bear with me while I try to identify the major changes.

1. no XP allowed

The new version is more demanding than the previous, which required a minimum XP + SP2 & 800 MHz with 128 MB RAM. This one needs at least Vista + SP2 & 1.6 GHz with 1 GB RAM. In all fairness, the beefier system specs are not required directly by WLW but rather by the newer OSs that WLW requires, but still..

2. Portability still works, with caveats

As stated, this version will no longer run on XP. To make it portable, first you have to download it and install it (link below). Locate it then on your hard disk - "C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Live\Writer\WindowsLiveWriter.exe" on an AMD64 machine and create a subdirectory UserData. Restart the program and it will create all necessary directories for you. You can now move the entire directory around or even to a USB key – it will work and all the settings will be saved locally. Keep in mind that portability will be somewhat limited by the exclusion of XP – if you need that, use the older Portable WLW.

3. Plugins incorporated

Some of the plugins linked in presented in the previous article on the older version have been incorporated in the codebase. WLW is now using emoticons by default and it replaces them with the MSN ones Open-mouthed smile. I don’t like them so much and wish I could define my own, as the old plugin allowed, but I don’t care enough to install it. Some of the Sharper Photo plugin functionality has been included and now you can manipulate photos even more so than before. Unfortunately, WLW might sometimes transform your JPGs into PNGs, which take more space. That is more likely to happen if your photos don’t have EXIF information. In that case, you might want to install and use the “Paste as JPG” plugin, which forces the use of JPG. Another nice touch is the use of the URL in the Hyperlink field if it is already in the clipboard. You can also finally use the “split post” button with Blogger, and the previews and edits resemble more closely your final view. There is now an excellent support for customized templates and the 500 articles limit is finally gone (in the past you had to use WLWDownloader, find the PostID, then open IE with wlw:// I’m not a big fan of “Office Ribbon” UI, most likely because I am not using Office 2007 – I don’t care for that. There is still no Search & Replace!

4. Dynamic Template

Joe Cheng’s plugin makes automating your boring HTML / CSS code / publishing tasks extremely easy. Consider reading his examples carefully: though you can probably do what he’s doing there in other ways, the point is to fully understand all that you can do with this fantastic plugin. I keep my templates backed up in an archive on the same USB key with the Portable WLW and expand them on the computer I use WLW (they’re not saved in the UserProfile directory). For a Windows 7 machine that folder is %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\WLWTemplates. I’ve recently discovered a great example of what this can do:


What Joe Cheng’s example shows is that DT can take an arbitrary list of words and manipulate it:

variable tags multiline

Technorati Tags:
string delim = “”;
string[] aTags = System.Text.Regular.Expressions.Regex.Split(tags, @”\r\n”);
foreach (string tag in aTags) {
     string plusTag = tag.Replace(“ “, “+”);
%><%= delim %><a
     href=”<%= UrlEncode(tag) %>”
     rel=”tag”><%= plusTag %></a><%
     delim = “, “;

Sadly, there is no such blog editor for Linux. The closest approximation, Blogilo, is made for KDE and does only about half of what WLW can do, mostly because you’ll have to find a substitute for DT.

Sources / More info: jcheng, official, wlw, wlw-req, wlw-twitter, wlw-req-xp, ch-wlw, lw-postid, wlwd, mte

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