Friday, October 10, 2014

WLW or Windows Live Writer 2012 Portable–redivivus

With so many reports decrying the death of blogging, I thought I share with you what is most likely the last article ever on Window Live Writer or WLW - more precisely, how I am moving it and backing it up and how I am planning to move away from it.

wlw-customizeFirst of all, with respect to blogging, I cannot imagine I would ever stop blogging. If I learned that the world comes to an abrupt end, I’d probably blog about that too. Blogging for me is about self-expression and the fact that it sometimes is rewarded by advertisers is a bonus and incentive, but not what motivates me.

It’s rather sad to see how the lack of growth in this segment has caused the larger corporations to unceremoniously dump it. Google seems to have abandoned blog search (it still works with tbm=blg, but who knows for how long). Likewise, Microsoft has all but abandoned this wonderful program – the plugins section has almost disappeared completely.

Recently, as I acquired a laptop to use as a backup, just in case my present one gives up the ghost (it’s been doing silly things lately), I moved most of my portable apps to the new(er) laptop and its hard-drive. I had not been using WLW 2012 in its portable format because I only used it on one laptop. However, moving to the new laptop should be easier when having to move just one directory, I thought.

First, I created the UserData folder right in “Program Files (x86)\Windows Live\Writer” but the program failed to start. I then moved it to another directory and started it by double clicking, and this time it started, but all the blog accounts had disappeared and so did the Dynamic Template plugin. Clipboard Capture and Insert a Smiley, the only other two plugins I use, were still there and functional. I have written this article, now I will publish it, and next I will move back the Writer directory into Windows Live to see if it gets back any of its previous functionality.

I moved the “Writer” directory around and back to Windows Live but Dynamic Template or the previously set up blog accounts, or their custom tags did not reappear. The blog accounts created afterward, however, held on. I could have probably copy the tags from somewhere (“%userdata%/AppData/Roaming/Windows Live Writer” is my guess). This means closing the app once again, reinstall Dynamic Template and then copy the previous customizations from the Roaming directory to somewhere appropriate within UserData.

Unfortunately, simply copying the files did not work (maybe I should’ve copied the “Local” ones as well?). I will probably have to recreate the tags. The passwords are not saved either, but this behaviour is consistent with all the other portable versions (2011 and XP as well). I also had to reinstall Dynamic Template. On 2X clicking the .msi, it asked me if I wanted to repair the installation, and after answering yes, it reappeared in the insert list.

This is a great opportunity to discuss how I write blogs and how I personalize WLW, explaining how the structure described in our General FAQ is achieved.

After setting up each blog I work with in “Manage blog accounts..” I create the tags, which are in the form “<tag>” where is the actual blog name. The automated templates have been listed before so I won’t list them again – they are in the same “Roaming” directory, under WLWTemplates. That more or less covers the transition to the Portable WLW.

However, the most interesting tips I just discovered in an article written by Jon Galloway (link in Sources). Here are his tips:

  1. The default theme can be tweaked in "%ProgramFiles(x86)%\Windows Live\Writer\template\defaultstyle.css", while each blog theme can be found in "%APPDATA%\Windows Live Writer\blogtemplates\<GUID>\style.css" – each blog gets a different GUID.
  2. To sync with SkyDrive (or another online drive) you have 3 options (and you may sync your entire WLW portable folder with its subfolders, or sync your drafts only):
    1. Add a PostsDirectory key to HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows Live\Writer to save your Drafts in your online drive folder and have WLW recognize them as such. There’s even an app that will do that for you.
    2. Use the mklink command to create a symbolic link, aka symlink: mklink /d <link> <target> (/d is for directory). For instance, to backup your root Music directory to your SkyDrive, do mklink /d “%userprofile%\SkyDrive\Music” C:\Music
  3. To export your settings as a registry, HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows Live\Writer\Weblogs (to restore, set up a blog first).
  4. If you forget your blog’s password and it’s stored in WLW, you can now retrieve it (gh-blogcred below).
  5. Update the blog preview option to the latest IE: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\FeatureControl\FEATURE_BROWSER_EMULATION (Key: WindowsLiveWriter.exe, Value: 9000 or 10000 - IE 9 or 10 respectively - DWORD value). Version 11 or 12 wasn’t out yet, but I’d expect a 11000 or 12000 value to update it similarly if it’s installed on your machine.

Have fun blogging!

Sources / More info: jg-8wlw, h2g-mklink, gh-blogcred, rs-updbl

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