Aaron\'s Live Writer Blog

July 6, 2011

A new version of Windows live Essentials 2011 is now available


Over on the Inside Windows Live blog, Arthur de Haan announced the availability of an update to Windows Live Essentials 2011 (Wave 4).  While I did not work on this directly for Writer I know there were a few changes for Writer and Writer technologies.  SSL was a big part of this of this release for Windows Live Mail and photo mail which runs the same code as Writer was updated to enable SSL support.  This means that when your photo mails are created the images linked to SkyDrive now use SSL.  This holds true for images you add to your blog posts in Writer that are saved to SkyDrive. 

You can go download the new bits via http://explore.live.com, search for them in the Microsoft Download Center, or wait until before month’s end when you will be prompted to optionally update the suite when you boot one of the applications.  Across the board this update is worth the download.  SSL support means things are more secure for you and there are bug fixes to almost every application that just makes life better.  My team worked on the Photo Gallery changes and help a bit with the Movie Maker updates and there are some great fixes there that make things more stable.

February 10, 2011

IE9 Release Candidate fixes the known issues with Windows Live Writer


In the past I had blogged about a few issues with IE 9 that might have you second thinking beta testing IE 9 on the same machine that you blogged with Windows Live Writer.  I am happy to say that with the Release Candidate that came out today all of the know issues between IE 9 and Live Writer have been fixed.  If are still having issues with the release candidate and Live Writer or Live Mail please make a comment in this post and also report the issue in the forums.

If you have been using the IE 9 beta it is recommended that you uninstall it before installing the release candidate.   Once you have done the uninstall you can find the new version at http://www.beautyoftheweb.com/#/download.

Ed Bott at ZDNet has a great write-up about IE 9 and tweaks you might want to make if you find a few things different from what you are used to in IE 8.

December 6, 2010

Autocorrect for a language other than English in Live Writer 2011 (and Live Mail) using Office 2010

Filed under: autocorrect, Live Mail, Live Writer, Wave 4 — Tags: , , , — Aaron Bregel @ 11:22 PM

NOTE: This should ONLY be tried with Office 2010.  DO NOT try with this Office 2007, Office 2003, or Office 97 files.  I have no idea if Live Writer will crash or have undesired affects using older version of Office files and I do not want to have to track down crashes for something that is unsupported in general.

First read the note above!  Second this is NOT supported so use at your own risk.  I have high confidence that this will work with Office 2010 files since Windows Live Writer 2011 used the same autocorrect file as Office 2010 but we only tested with the English file so there is a minor chance that a localize file might not work.

In a previous post I explained how to add additional dictionaries for use with Live Writer.  In Microsoft Office, the applications with keep in sync a localized autocorrect list that matches the editing language and dictionary assuming there is an autocorrect list for that language (sometimes they use English when autocorrect does not make sense for a language and sometimes they do nothing at all).  In Live Writer regardless of what dictionary you are using, or what your UI you are using, your autocorrect will always be in English.  If you own Office 2010 and you really want to use a localized autocorrect list here is how you do it.  I should note that this will change the built in autocorrect list and not the custom autocorrect list you can create and use with Office.  Live Writer does not support a custom autocorrect list.  Second note is that this will change your autocorrect list for Live Mail in addition to Live Writer.  Please make sure you want to have it replaced and used in both applications.

  1. Verify that you have Office 2010 – if you do not then please stop reading now.
  2. Navigate to your “Program Files\Windows Live\Writer\Dictionaries\” folder
  3. Rename mso.acl to mso.bak – this way you can go back to your original file
  4. Navigate to your “Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14” folder
  5. Navigate to folder for the Locale ID (LCID) for the language that that you want to use.  Office use LCID as defined in the table found on Locale IDs assigned by Microsoft.  Look at that list and find the LCID that matches the language you want to use.  Live Writer ships with English – 1033.  Here is a subset of that list including many of the common languages that Windows Live Writer is localized to:

    Language – Country/Region LCID Dec
    Arabic – Saudi Arabia 1025
    Basque 1069
    Bulgarian 1026
    Catalan 1027
    Croatian 1050
    Czech 1029
    Dutch – Netherlands 1043
    English – United States 1033
    English – United Kingdom 2057
    English – Australia 3081
    English – Canada 4105
    Estonian 1061
    Finnish 1035
    French – France 1036
    German – Germany 1031
    German – Switzerland 2055
    Greek 1032
    Hebrew 1037
    Hungarian 1038
    Italian – Italy 1040
    Japanese 1041
    Korean 1042
    Latvian 1062
    Lithuanian 1063
    Malay – Malaysia 1086
    Polish 1045
    Portuguese – Brazil 1046
    Portuguese – Portugal 2070
    Romanian 1048
    Russian 1049
    Serbian (Cyrillic) 3098
    Serbian (Latin) 2074
    Slovak 1051
    Slovenian 1060
    Spanish – Spain (Modern Sort) 3082
    Spanish – Mexico 2058
    Swedish 1053
    Turkish 1055
    Ukrainian 1058

    So if you wanted to use the French autocorrect list you would go to the 1036 folder

  6. Copy the mso.acl file from that folder to the “Program Files\Windows Live\Writer\Dictionaries\” folder

  7. Boot Writer and try a word that you know will autocorrect for that language.  For example, with French if you type “contr ece” it should autocorrect to “contre ce”.

To switch back, just rename mso.back to mso.acl.  Note that running setup to, say, switch your UI language or to upgrade your Windows Live Writer could revert the mso.acl file back to English.   A repair operation could also set it back to English.

As stated above this is unsupported however I know that many users would like to have autocorrect that matches their editing and UI language. 

September 30, 2010

What has changed since the Beta refresh for Windows Live Writer 2011?

Filed under: Live Mail, Live Writer, Wave 4 — Tags: , , — Aaron Bregel @ 5:36 PM

As announced today the final version of Windows Live Writer is now available for download.  You can download it from http://explore.live.com/windows-live-writer.  While I think there is great value in the suite as a whole if you just want Writer please make sure you do a custom install and uncheck the parts of the suite you are not interested in.

If you are a 2009 Live Writer user, you can see my previous posts to get an idea about the changes made to get to the point of what Live Writer 2011 is all about.  This post is all about my favorite changes made since the Beta refresh.  Many of these are issues report by Beta testers and the team really thanks you for your feedback.

 

Better support for Japanese IME

This really surprised the team but for many customers in Japan the IME was just plain broken epically those typing with a Japanese keyboard and using the IME vs. those using a QWERTY keyboard and the IME which was working just fine.  This was not just a 2011 issue but also an issue with 2009 but we had never received the feedback that it was not working.  I would like to think that many users in Japan will be very delighted with Live Writer now where if I were in their shoes I might have just uninstalled it and walked away in the past.

Improved SEO

An issue with Live Writer 2009 is that on upload to blog servers like WordPress, Writer would change the file name of your image.  It would strip out characters like the hyphen or dash that were part of the file name.  For example, “Cool-Product_1.jpg” would become “CoolProduct1.jpg”.  This was very frustrating to those that wanted to take advantage of search engine optimization (SEO) and have a web crawler index the image name as published so that when you did that Bing search it would bring up your image name as part of the results list.

Multi-language User Interface support (MUI)

This change is not specific to Live Writer but it is supported across the whole suite.  In Office and Windows for a few releases, you could apply MUI packs and quickly change the language of your UI with a simple restart of the application or Windows.  Live Writer now has this support for all 40+ languages out there today.  This also means that by installing the MUI you get the spell checker for that language making it really easy to spell check in more than one language after you change the spell in the Writer UI.
In the Windows Control panel if you click on “Clock, Language, and Region” you will see an entry for Windows Live Language Setting.  This will allow you to switch or add languages other than the default language you installed.  Some of the dictionaries have been updated since the Beta and overall all languages should be as current as what Office 2010 has.
Windows Live Languge Setting

 

 

Aspect ratio support for Videos

This had been a fairly common request from users and now you can pick to have your video formatted in 16:9 or 4:3 when you publish it was part of your post.  Here is a screen shot of the new buttons on the Video Tools Format ribbon tab.

Live Writer Video Tools Format ribbont tab

Aspect ratio for images works again

This was broken in the Beta and if you resized an image and had aspect ratio turned on Writer was not honoring this setting but in the final version, it is working as expected.

Improved support for Specific blog servers

  • Live Writer has better support for configuring and using Squarespace blogs
  • For TypePad publishing with a future date is now supported
  • For all of our French users we have made configuring a blog with Overblog easier to do
  • Split post (jump break) support has been added for Blogger
  • Server side tags are no longer returned as Keywords on Telligent Community Server – this should make Microsoft employees happy who post to Technet or MSDN
  • More work in blog theme detection focusing on WordPress and Blogger.  Also fixing blog title font size issues with specific themes.
  • Photo albums look better with the new Blogger theme templates introduced in the last year or so.

WordPress.com is now the default for creating new blogs via Live Writer

This was blogged about this here.

“No” tags are now stripped from Web Preview

2011 added stronger security in that script is not run from inside of Writer.  This meant however that when you went into Web Preview in the Beta build you would see a preview where for example the page would act as if something like j-script was not installed and you would see whatever was included in say a <noscript> tag.  Blogging on SharePoint 2010 showed this, which looked confusing as it looked like there was a problem with the page.  The change is that all of the “no” tags like <noscript> or <noframes> are now stripped from Web Preview which should make it look more like what readers of your blog will see.

Improved encoding support

While most of the world is now using UTF-8 for their blog serving needs, there are still users that prefer a specific encoding for their blog.  Work was done across the board to make this better.  Users of ISO-8859-1 encoding should see improvements over the Beta.

Copy/Paste Improvements

In the Beta refresh there was a big focus to make copy/paste better.  More work was done in this area.  For example, in some cases after copying an image from Microsoft Word and pasting in Live Writer you could not apply image formatting in Live Writer.

Improvements to Windows Live Mail

As blogged about in the past the Live Writer team worked on making the text editor better in Live Mail and here are a few key issues fixed from the Beta refresh:

  • Captions applied to photos in Windows Live Photo Gallery are not lost when you create a Photo Mail from selected images in Photo Gallery.
  • Change All from the context menu when Spell Checking a mail message now works
  • Edit Hyperlink from the context menu on a Hyperlink now works
  • Albums in Photo Mail are even more robust on upload to SkyDrive (this also is an improvement in Live Writer)

 

We are always interested in your thoughts.  Please leave us comments.

September 21, 2010

Windows Live Writer and IE 9 beta problems

Filed under: IE 9, Live Mail, Live Writer, Live Writer 2011, Wave 3, Wave 4 — Tags: , , — Aaron Bregel @ 11:37 PM

I never seen a perfect Beta and in the case of IE 9 the first public beta breaks a few things in Windows Live Writer.  In most cases the HTML changes from what Live Writer intended to publish.  You can also see this if you switch to the Preview or Source tab before you publish.  These issues can be seen in Wave 3 (14.x) builds or the Wave 4 Beta (15.x) builds.  Unfortunately there are no workarounds to the problems other than uninstalling IE 9.

Jimmy Bergmark points out in his blog that if you clear the Alt text or Title text field on a image that when you Publish (or go to the Source or Preview tab) that “alt” is added for the Alt text and “title” is added for the title.

Image alignment can change, again on Publish (or when you go to Source or Preview tab).  For example, Center an image and then publish and you will see it return to Left alignment.

What issues are you finding wrong with Live Writer used in conjunction with IE 9?  Please leave a comment on this post and we will try and pass along things as need to the IE 9 team.

THANKS for Beta testing IE 9.  It has a bunch of cool and fast features but you might not want to use it on the same machine you are blogging on with Live Writer right now.

Get IE 9

 

Update: Some people have jump to the conclusion that I am advocating with this post that you should uninstall IE 9.  The point of this post was to inform you that there are issues that do not have a workaround and that IE 9 is the cause.  This is the risk you run with any Beta.  As tweets and comments are showing people are running into these type of issues and thinking something has broken with their Writer install or if they are using the Live Writer Beta think that there are these types of issue in the public Beta.  I included a link on the IE 9 image to download the product for a reason with my original post.  IE 9 is a great improvement and I have been using it on my Beta machine on a daily basis.  As I started my post by saying that I have never seen a perfect Beta and y’all should be aware of the issues.  Remember that you can always post as draft to your blog server and then fix up the alignment of an image or clear the Alt text on your image in your web based editor before you publish and still Beta test with IE 9.  This is not a perfect workaround but I encourage you to continue to give IE 9’s Beta a chance.

Update (2/10/11): The IE9 RC (release candidate) was made available today and fixes the problems written about above with Live Writer or Live Mail.  Uninstall any beta build of IE9 you have and then go to http://www.beautyoftheweb.com/#/download

August 17, 2010

What is new in Wave 4 windows Live writer since the beta?


This is a quick post to capture some of the highlights of what has been added or changed since the first Beta release of Wave 4 Windows Live Writer.  The development team is not done yet and this is not the full list of changes.  I will have individual posts that give more details about some of these items over the next few days.  Many of these changes are based off of direct Beta feedback or reinforced changes the development team wanted to make but needed customer feedback to push the work to the top of the list.

Jumplists!

This did not quite make the Beta but now Live Writer has jumplists on Windows 7.  Right click on the application icon in the task bar and you will see jump list entries for recent drafts and recent posts.
image

Drafts and Posts on the application menu.

This is another that we new we wanted to change after moving away from the sidebar and many customers let us know that this was a must have.  We hope you like the fact that you now have a way to move quickly to drafts or posts via a “most recently used” like list.

image

Much better theme detection

As WordPress has changed over the years Writer has not kept up with the theme changes.  I would like to think that Live Writer is back on par and can accurately detect all current themes from WordPress including their new WP 3.0 theme Twenty Ten.  The theme detection changes are not exclusively for WordPress.  Writer will now work a lot better with the new custom Blogger themes also and should work better for really any blog server you use.  WYSIWYG is much better in Blogger now.  I should note that Writer still cannot themes for blogs marked as private on servers such as WordPress.

Post draft to blog now has a ribbon button

This one kind of surprised us.  People really wanted a ribbon button that post draft to blog.  We read many reports where people say that they post a draft to their blog and then directly go to the web to actually publish the post from there.  No one really went on to explain why they need to do the extra step of publishing from the website but since y’all asked for it we were able to accommodate you.  This moved the “Add blog account” button to the Blog accounts drop down list. 
image

Much better copy/Paste from Microsoft Office

Writer has always had issues with what is the “right” way to paste content from your clipboard.  Should it paste everything that was there.  Does it try and make things “web friendly” and exclude stuff on the clipboard that is there but is not needed?  With Office there is a lot of CSS on the clipboard that will not be needed in your blog post.  If it was pasted it would really bloat your post.  We think we have a good compromise of pasting what you need to keep the formatting.  Bullets/numbering, heading styles, etc. all should paste better when copying from Office into Writer.  I will give a lot more details and examples in a separate post.

Updated spelling dictionaries

Yes Live Writer dictionaries were really out of date.  It now have the same ones that are included with Office 2010.  Live Writer will have updates for all languages that it is released in.  It also has an updated autocorrect list that matches the English list in Office 2010.

Photo Album improvements

Photo albums should upload faster now.  This is true in Live Writer and also in Live Mail.  In Live Mail there is also a better indication as to where you can add additional photos to your album.  Live Mail also has some UI to set of a Photo Album expires after 90 days or not.

More keyboard shortcuts

There are more keyboard shortcuts which should appear as help topic on the web and I will have a separate post with the full list.

 

Hopefully this small list make you happy and that the build works much better for you.  Please keep leaving feedback in the forums or on feedback.live.com.

Update: Here is where you can download the new build from: http://explore.live.com/windows-live-essentials-beta

June 22, 2010

Squares–The new Photo Album style in Live Writer

Filed under: Live Mail, Live Writer, Wave 3, Wave 4 — Tags: , , , — Aaron Bregel @ 5:55 PM

Many of the reviews of the Live Mail Wave 4 beta talk about the improvements made to Photo Mail and show a cool way to share your photos with friends and family in a Photo Album.  As I talked about in the post “Sharing Code is Good”,  this work was done by the Live Writer team.  Let us take a deeper look at Photo Albums in Windows Live Writer and specifically the new album style called “Squares” added for the Wave 4 beta.  All of these styles can also be used in Photo Mail in Live Mail.

Photo Albums in Live Writer are nice in that you get a great visual representation of a set of pictures without having to insert a bunch of full size images into your post.  You give the reader of your blog the opportunity to click and see an album as a whole and with Wave 4 they can see it as a slide show.  The photos are all stored on SkyDrive instead of in your blog server.  In Wave 4 we added the ability to allow readers of your blog to download the whole album locally instead of forcing them to right click on every photo and select Save.

Squares

By default when you insert a photo album you need to add at least one photo before you can add the album to your blog post.  Here is what the new Square style looks like with four photos.  One photo becomes the big photo next to your album title and the rest start to appear in rows and columns underneath.  For Squares we will show up to 41 pictures in the album but you can have 100s of photos in the album itself that will be save to SkyDrive.  The album title will also match your blog theme.

image

Here is a “live” squares album with many photos that has been uploaded to SkyDrive.

 

 

 

Wave 3 album styles

If you are new to Live Writer then you have not seen the rest of the styles for Photo Albums.  Here is a look at the rest.

 

 

The Spread style will only show five thumbnails in the default view.

 

 

 

The Grid Left style and Grid Right style show seven thumbnails in an album.

 

 

 

 

The Scatter style will show up to 17 thumbnails in the album.

 

 

 

The Fan style will display up to nine thumbnails.

June 16, 2010

Sharing code is good!

Filed under: Live Mail, Live Writer, Wave 4 — Tags: , , — Aaron Bregel @ 11:51 PM

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.

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