Aaron\'s Live Writer Blog

December 1, 2010

New version of Windows Live Writer fixes AltGr issue

Filed under: Live Writer, Ribbon UI, Wave 4 — Tags: , , — Aaron Bregel @ 9:11 PM

A new build (15.4.3508.1109) of Windows Live Writer 2011 was released today for the primary reason to fix an issue with using the AltGr key on many keyboards used worldwide.  Just about five weeks ago we started to receive reports that AltGr+1 or any number 1-6 or AltGr+V was not having the desired effect.  Here is what should have happened for a few different keyboards:

Keyboard AltGr+1 AltGr+2 AltGr+3 AltGr+4 AltGr+5
Spanish | @ # ~
Swedish   @ £ $
French   ~ # { [
Swiss German ¦ @ # ° §

Instead of the expected character this would get mapped to the ribbon shortcuts since AltGr really is the equivalent to Alt+Ctrl.  For 1-6 it would map to changing your HTML style and for “V” it would do a paste special.  If you were trying to type an email address with the “@” symbol or type a currency symbol it would be very frustrating.  Overall this affected 103 different keyboards used in over 400 locations worldwide.

The built in virtual keyboards that come with the operating system do not generally show this issue and you needed to have a real keyboard with an AltGr key.  My question to our beta testers is why did y’all not see this in your testing?  What can we do different in the future with a beta to help find these type of bugs assuming we cannot find them in-house?  The beta was released in at least three countries where the standard keyboard has an AltGr key.

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.


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.

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.


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. 

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 16, 2010

Windows live Writer Wave 4 Beta — Tools tabs

Filed under: Live Writer, Ribbon UI, Wave 4 — Tags: , , — Aaron Bregel @ 10:52 PM

The Ribbon UI in general gives us the ability to show users functionality that used to be buried deep in menus and dialogs.  It also allows to better show UI that only needs to be there when the user needs it.  In this post we will explore the Tools tabs in the Windows Live Wave 4 Beta.  If you are an user of Office 2007 or later you should already be familiar with Tools tabs.  Tools tab appear when you have specific things selected within a document.  In Office you may see more than one ribbon tab appear but in the case of Writer we only have one Tool tab per selected item.

Tables Tools – Layout

Table tools tab

When you insert a Table in Live Writer or select one you will see the ribbon tab show above as available.  This should look a lot like the Layout tab in Microsoft Word for a table.  All of the editing of a table is just one click away.  Like Wave 3 you also have all of the table editing available on the right click context menu.


Picture Tools – Format

Picture tools tab

In Wave 3 Live Writer the options to format a picture were in the side bar and were in spread across three different tabs.  Many people did not know you could do things like add watermarks to images. You also had no visual representation of picture effects.

There are a lot of nice picture styles to select from the gallery. If you expand the gallery it looks like this:

Styles gallery

You can have pictures inherit formatting from the blog settings, apply a drop shadow border, apply effects like reflection or rounded corners. You also have effects that make the photo look like an instant photo.






The picture effects look like this:

Picture effects
Recolor is selected in the case and you can see all of the different options.  Sharpen, Blur, and Emboss all have different effects you can apply.










You can also adjust alignment and margins for pictures in an easier to use UI:

Picture alignment    Picture margins



Photo Album Tools – Format

Photo album ribbon

In Wave 4 we added a new album style called Squares which is currently the new default.  It really complements the album styles we had in Wave 3.  Photo Albums are saved to SkyDrive so that you can share your photos with your friends.  Much of this UI was buried in the Insert photo album dialog before.  The large button drops down to allow you to pick a few different sizes for the images to be uploaded in your album.

Here is an example of the new Squares album (in picture form – not an actual album):


You will also notice that photo albums now have links to allow readers of your to launch right into a slide show or download the pictures to their own hard drive from SkyDrive.  You have ability to set album privacy settings giving permissions that are set on SkyDrive.












Video Tools – Format


The Video Tools tab is really straight forward.  View online will toggle to a button to stop an upload if part of inserting a video into your blog is uploading it to a hosting service like YouTube.

This wraps up the set of posts on the ribbon UI in Windows Live Writer Wave 4 beta.  In my next post or two I will talk about new features in Live Writer that are not part of the ribbon.

Windows Live Writer Wave 4 Beta — Application menu and Post Properties

Filed under: Live Writer, Ribbon UI, Wave 4 — Tags: , , — Aaron Bregel @ 8:46 PM

With the primary ribbon tabs for Windows Live Writer Wave 4 Beta covered in previous posts (Home, Insert & Blog Account) lets look at the application menu and Post Properties.

The Application (File) menu


The application menu for Live Writer is fairly standard for an application.  Under the New Post option you will find New post and if your blog server such as WordPress or TypePad supports it, New Page.

Open is just like Wave 3 and you can select from your drafts, recent post, and the list of post per configured blog account.

Save will allow you to save a draft locally, save the draft to the server, or save the draft to the server and edit it there.

Delete local draft will of course allow you to delete a local draft.

Publish will publish your blog post or page to your blog server.

Print gives you the option to print or print preview your post.

Options will bring up the Writer options dialog.

The about box and Exit Writer speak for themselves.





Post Properties

Some of the big feedback we received about Live Writer was that users did not know where to add categories or tags. In general people did not notice it at the bottom of the application and after some usability testing we found that when it was up near the ribbon it was much easier to find so me moved it right below the ribbon.  The set of fields you see is based off of what is supported by your blog.  The picture below is for WordPress.com. If your blog server supports publish dates for say publishing a post on your server that appears three days from now you can do it by setting the publish date for three days from now.  Some blog servers even allow you to see the date to a date in the past.

WordPress Post Properties

If you click “View all” we bring up a modal dialog that has all of the options that your blog server supports. 


Windows Live Writer Wave 4 beta–Insert & Blog Account tabs

Filed under: Live Writer, Ribbon UI, Wave 4 — Tags: , , — Aaron Bregel @ 8:15 PM

I have already blogged about the Home tab for Windows Live Writer Wave 4 and this post will be about the other two main tabs Insert and Blog Account.

The Insert tab

Live Writer Wave 4 Beta Insert Tab

One of first things you will notice is that in the Breaks section is that Live Writer now has added support for Horizontal Line.  This is your standard <hr> tag. Clear break is the same as Wave 3.  Split post will appear if your blog supports split post.  For example, it will appear in WordPress and TypePad but not in Live Spaces.

Table is the same as Wave 3.

Most of the Media section is the same as what you would find in Wave 3.  You can insert hyperlinks.  Insert a picture from your hard drive or from the web.  From the web is supported again on Windows 7 something that was working in Wave 2 but not Wave 3.  You have the option to create a new photo album to be saved to SkyDrive or insert an existing one you have on SkyDrive.  The video button allows you to insert from the web, your hard drive, or a video service like YouTube.  The Map button allows you to insert a Bing map.  Post tags allows you to quickly insert tags for Technorati, LiveJournal, Flickr, del.icio.us, IceRocket, 43 Things, or BuzzNet.  You can also still customize your own provider.  The Emoticons button is new and we are sharing the same set of emoticons as Live Messenger.  The same shortcuts you use in Messenger work in Writer also so if you enter “:)” you will see Smile.  The Emoticon drop down also has a most recently used list so that if you use the same emoticon over and over you do not have to hunt for it in the gallery as a whole.

 Live Writer Wave 4 Beta emoticons

Plug-ins have moved from the sidebar to the Insert tab.  In the image above you can see the ribbon with a few plug-ins installed.  You can also add new plug-ins or modify the plug-in options.


Blog Account Tab

Windows Live Writer Wave 4 Beta blog account tab

The Blog options button will bring up the dialog with blog specific options.  The Shortcuts section is blog specific and can be modified on your blog server with a Writer manifest file.  In the picture above the shortcuts for a blog on WordPress.com is show. Below you can see examples for blogs on Live Spaces and Blogger.  In the Theme section you can turn off or on if you compose your blog with a what you see is what you get view or not.  Update theme gives you the option to bring a new theme down to Writer if you change it on your server.

Spaces Spaces.  Blogger Blogger.


Next I will have a post on the application menu (file men) and the Post Properties.  After that I will have a post on the tools ribbon tabs.


This post was written in the Wave 4 beta build.

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June 15, 2010

Keyboard shortcuts for Windows Live Writer 2011

Filed under: Live Writer, Ribbon UI, Wave 4 — Tags: , , , — Aaron Bregel @ 2:20 PM

I had a post about the shortcuts for beta build but never had a post for the final Windows Live Writer 2011.  Here is the full list:

Command Keystroke New for 2011
Text Center Alignment Ctrl+E


Text Left Alignment Ctrl+L


Text Right Alignment Ctrl+R


Set text direction of paragraph Left to Right Ctrl+Left Shift


Set text direction of paragraph Right to Left Ctrl+Right Shift


Bold text Ctrl+B  
Italic Ctrl+I  
Strikethrough Ctrl+H  
Underline Ctrl+U  
Superscript Ctrl+Shift+=


Subscript Ctrl+=


Bulleted List Ctrl+Shift+L


Check Spelling F7  
Clear Del  
Copy Ctrl+C  
Cut Ctrl+X  
Delete Del  
Select All Ctrl+A  
Paste Ctrl+V  
Paste Special Ctrl+Left Alt+V  
Paste without formatting Ctrl+Shift+V  
Remove Links and Clear Formatting Ctrl+Space  
Find Ctrl+F  
Redo Ctrl+Y  
Undo Ctrl+Z  
Apply Paragraph style Ctrl+Shift+N


Apply Heading 1 style Ctrl+Left Alt+1


Apply Heading 2 style Ctrl+Left Alt+2


Apply Heading 3 style Ctrl+Left Alt+3


Apply Heading 4 style Ctrl+Left Alt+4


Apply Heading 5 style Ctrl+Left Alt+5


Apply Heading 6 style Ctrl+Left Alt+6


Insert Hyperlink Ctrl+K  
New Page Ctrl+G  
New Post Ctrl+N  
Open Post Ctrl+O  
Post and Publish Ctrl+Shift+P  
Post Draft to blog Ctrl+Shift+D  
Save Ctrl+S  
Print Ctrl+P  
Insert Picture from File Ctrl+J


Insert Picture from Web Ctrl+Shift+J


Switch to Source View Shift+F11  
Switch to Preview view F12  
Switch to Edit View F11  
Edit using Theme Ctrl+F11  
Post Properties Dialog F2  
Set focus in Post Properties field or Previous property field Shift+F6  
Set focus in Next Field of Post Properties F6  
Show Properties Pane dialog for selected field Ctrl+Shift+C  
Toggle sidebar for plug-ins F9  
Help F1  
Toggle ribbon visible state Ctrl+F1


It should be noted that Ctrl+L did an insert of a picture in Wave 3 but that has been replaced with Ctrl+J.

Update: It looks like I made this post over the post that contained the list for the Beta.  Oh well.  No one should be using the beta build now.

June 14, 2010

Windows live Writer Wave 4 beta — The Home Tab

Filed under: Live Writer, Ribbon UI, Wave 3 — Tags: , , — Aaron Bregel @ 4:13 PM

Those that took a look at my “About Me” page know that I worked on Office products for a long time before moving over the Windows Live division.  I saw the days when we would take the Office applications and place them together to truly make sure we had the same menus and toolbars in alignment pixel by pixel.  This lead next to shared code across the Office suite with Office ‘95 and the introduction of “command bars”.  Later on Office finally received “The Ribbon” with Office 2007.  Personally I was really happy to see the ribbon add to Office.  Having working on areas of Excel like charting and pivot tables there were just too many features that were buried or hidden that the power that was in the product was just on being discovered by users.  Of all of the Windows Live applications in my mind the application that can most benefit from the ribbon is Windows Live Writer.  Many features are buried and as an example a few months back many of the tweets about Live Writer were that it had watermarks for images.  This feature has been in Writer for many years now but was buried under the Advanced tab for images.  Why would you think that you needed to into Advance to add a watermark to an image? With the ribbon it is right there for you to use as a top level action on the Picture Tools Tab.

For this post I want to start by talking about the Home tab of the ribbon for Live Writer. But first I should make a few comments about the ribbon itself.  The whole Live Essentials suite is sharing the same ribbon code.  In fact this code is the same code you see in the applications in Windows 7 that have the ribbon like Paint, WordPad, the Calculator, etc.  This is not the same ribbon code that you find in Office applications.  As such one of the things you will find in Wave 4 applications is that the ribbon is not extensible for plug-in developers.  In Wave 4 the sidebar remains for developers to use and if you were doing things to customize the menus there is a place where your customizations will live but unfortunately you will not be able add your own buttons to say the Home Tab.


The picture above shows the Home tab as it appears in the Beta build.  As you can see the Home tab looks a lot like what you would see in Microsoft Word and really the whole Office suite.  On the left hand side you have the standard Clipboard buttons for Cut, Copy, and Paste.  The Paste button will drop down to allow you to do Paste Special.

Next are the common Writer buttons for publishing.  There is a big button to Publish your blog post.  There is also a button to add a blog account which takes you through the same configuration wizard that we had in the previous version of Writer.  The last button in this group which is the top on the right is a drop down button that lists all of your blogs you have configured along with an option to manage your blog accounts.  If the blog server is using a Writer manifest file on the server where they have included an icon for the blog you will see it next to the blog name.  In the list below you can see icons for my Spaces blog and WordPress blogs with icons.


The next part of the ribbon is the Font controls.  You can select the Font family and size.  The button next to those is the clear formatting button which will clear any and all font formatting that had been applied.  Below that is bold, italic, underline, and strikethrough which were available on the toolbar in Wave 3.  New to Wave 4 are subscript and superscript buttons. Also new is text highlight color and like Wave 3 there is font color.  Since the font color button is a drop down now it is faster as a user than Wave 3 to pick a color.


The next set is the Paragraph controls.  This is the same as in Wave 3.  You can select from bullet or numbered lists.  There is a button for block quotes.  There is also the paragraph alignment controls for left, center, right, and justified.  Not show in the picture above but part of the product is paragraph direction controls so that if you have your blog set to write to a right to left language like Hebrew or Arabic you can set the input direction at the paragraph level.

With the ribbon one new thing we could do was to show you the HTML styles as they were defined in your blog theme assuming you had selected to detect it.  In the picture of the home tab it is for a fairly generic them.  In the pictures below you will see a couple of other themes where fonts are different and there might be colored fonts or backgrounds.  I should note that we added in keyboard support that matches Word’s keystrokes for switching styles which is something that did not exist in Wave 3.  I should also note that the picture below show the gallery expanded.



The next ribbon set is the common things you will insert into a blog.  We have a whole Insert tab in the ribbon for all of the things you might want to insert but we put Hyperlink, Picture, and Video on the Home tab.  As you can see from the picture below for the Home tab the picture button we give you the ability to add pictures or photo albums.  Also we added back the ability to insert pictures from the web on Windows 7, something that we lost between Wave 2 and Wave 3.


The last section of the ribbon for the Home tab is the Editing section.  Here you have spelling, word count, find (sorry no replace), and select all.  Word count is another example of a feature that was buried in the old UI but now is really accessible with the ribbon.


In my next blog post I will talk about the other main ribbon tabs; Insert and Blog Account along with the new and existing keyboard shortcuts. In later posts I will talk about what is on the application menu and the new Post Properties UI but I wanted to also talk about other parts of the ribbon itself for those that had never used it in a program.

The first is the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT).  By default this is above the ribbon tabs and where you can find a Save and Undo/Redo buttons.  From the picture below there are other options built in to what you can add there. 


What you might not know is that you can also add any button from any part of the ribbon to the QAT by just right clicking on it.  image

From either location you can also minimize the ribbon if you want the space for editing your blog post.  Click on any ribbon tab will drop the ribbon down and you can select the button you want.  You can also minimize the ribbon by double clicking on a ribbon tab.  You can also move the QAT below the ribbon and above the Post Properties area if you want it closer to the ribbon.

Lastly the ribbon itself is fully keyboard accessible so you do not need to use the mouse at all.  If you hold down the Alt key you will see shortcuts appear on the ribbon as you enter the associated character(s) you can navigate to the button you want to use.


As I wrote above this is the first of a few posts on the beta for Live Writer Wave 4.  Please leave me comments so I know people are reading these posts.  Writing is not more forte so I do not know if I am writing too little or too much.  I hope you will enjoy the beta which will be out “soon”.

PS. This post was written with the Wave 4 beta build of Live Writer.

Update: I forgot to mention that you can also minimize the Ribbon with via the keyboard with Ctrl+F1.

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