Having spent many years in Office I saw firsthand the value of shared code. In the days of Excel 5.0 and Word 6.0 very little code was shared across the Office suite. In Office ‘95 that changed and with resources focused on writing features that could be used across the suite it was great benefit. No longer did we have to make sure that a feature looked and worked the same across many applications in the suite even though it was written once for Excel, once for Word, once for PowerPoint, etc. As we worked on new versions the shared teams grew larger. The cool thing was that features, some that you did not even know about, just appeared in Excel, which I was working on, and I could just focus on making sure we had spreadsheet specific features like PivotTables. Of course my team also worked on shared features in MS Graph and the Excel charting engine that was in turn shared across the Office suite.
I already blogged about the fact that the ribbon used in Live Writer and all of the other applications in the Wave 4 suite is shared code. What might not be apparent and I have not seen written up in a review, because you really should not need to know, is that the same editor that is used in Live Writer, is now also being used in Live Mail. The code is shared! This gave the Live Mail team the ability to go off and focus on making a better mail client that works great with Hotmail or gMail without dedicating a lot of time on the text editor. This work was instead done by a large part of the Live Writer team. This is actually very similar to what we did in Office where Word was an optional editor for Outlook but in Office 2007 we just turn it on all of the time so Word was the editor all of the time in Outlook. Outlook could focus on working well with sending mail via Exchange and let the Word team focus on editing text.
Another key benefit for Live Mail users is now it has the photo album feature that Writer has. Live Mail has had a photo mail feature for a few versions now but we would like to think that Writer photo albums are better. Once nice feature in photo albums is that your photos from a photo mail will be saved to SkyDrive just like they are in Writer. This would have been hard to do without sharing code. I always get frustrated when software from the same company behaves differently doing the same type of action and with Live Writer and Live Mail this will not be the case.
There is also a benefit for users that only use Live Writer. I hope you will find that the editor when you are composing blog posts is better. Live Mail had a few features in its old editor that we need to add to the shared code to make sure that Live Mail users did not lose functionality. This really is a big win for users of the suite and Writer users in that they got new functionality. Another example across the suite is that you will see that the emoticons in Live Writer look a lot like the ones in Live Messenger because they are the same assets.
When you get your hands on the Wave 4 Beta I hope you see and recognize these benefits but the chances are you will not. Why? because it should just feel natural. No longer should you be frustrated when something strange happens while you are writing your post because we have taken care of those issues that were there in Wave 3 some via bring features from the Live Mail’s editor into Writer. Chances are you do not even remember you had the issue because you are not seeing it anymore.