Awesome: Windows Live Writer gets auto linking


Windows Live Writer gets automated linking, how to fake import and export of those and some links to useful plugins.

Have you ever restrained yourself not to mention a person or company in a blog post because you did not want to go through the hassle of linking to it, because it was additional work? Did you ever find yourself wondering why you needed to do this over and over again although your computer can learn other things when you repeat them? Excactly.

If you get used to how tools work and what features they provide, you are disappointed when you encounter new tools in a slightly different setting and they did not learn from what was already available. I have been talking about that a lot in the past in regard to Feeds and lifestreams (no experience gathered from personal scoring systems of Usenet) and Chats like Twitter (nothing learned from IRC).

Blog postings are another area where I am missing so many features I am used to from other tools. My search for an offline blog editor fell flat so many times because as somebody who is used to work efficiently in Windows most tools are just not living up to my expectations. It starts with a UI which is not up to par with how Windows is set up (I am a Windows user, I do not care about cross plattform), none existent or poorly done keyboard shortcuts (I live by them) and does not end with cross application features. Many people for example never understood how powerful the clipboard really is.

You know you are a geek when two words can send you in a state of delight.
Imagine my delight when I paid again a closer look at the new technical preview of the Windows Live Writer and noticed this time the term auto linking. Yes there are template solutions available. The magic word here is ?auto?.

It is a feature I have been missing from the beginning: Automatic linking at known words, called I think Auto Correction in the English Word. Used for spelling mistakes, it basically takes whatever you are typing and replaces it with something you want to have instead. I always deleted the whole file of suggestions and replaced it with my own typical mistakes plus used it in a short hand way. For example typing gbw would result in “Global Business Women” so I would not need to type that every single time.

And the link you see there with Global Business Women is how the new preview of Windows Live Writer handles the first mentioning of this term: It links it because it is in the dictionary. Notice how it is not linked to the second? That is a setting as well. image

Though it does not replace like in Word it at least makes the links. It would be great if it would be handled like in Word because then you could use something like lname to change into <name with a link>. I am missing an import / export feature (yet) but the adding process is nice enough for the moment. As I know I will be writing a lot about Reboot over the next weeks, I will add a link to it once through the dialog and have it added automatically next time I write. I could use the word reboot10 to be more specific, but actually, when I write Reboot (especially with a capital R) it is unlikly for me to mean the verb.

Highlighting the word Reboot and hitting CTRL-K I get this dialog:


And my new entry for the autolinking is ready. Next time I write Reboot like this it will not get linked; but it would if I removed the original link and did write it again, so the tool is checking against ?already entered yes / no?. Now there are still a lot of kinks in it and knowing what Word provides with this feature I am greedy and want all of that as well. :)

My suggestion if you are not on the search for a new editor
You may not be looking for a new blog editor and it may seem contraintuitive, but how about making use of the tools at hand? Prewrite part of your posts in a tool like Live Writer, hit the source view and c&p it to your blogging platform and work from there. Even though my blog platform does not work well together with WLW (the metaweblog api seems not to be implemented well enough) I do use it for all of the writing and automatic upload of the images and then quickly edit the rest online. And there are several things I do not like how WLW implements them, so I just clean it up with a script in my text editor afterwards. Too much hassle? Not really, because the amount of time saved and the increased pleasure of writing is very much worth the extra steps.

Faking import and export
Though the current version does not yet have an import / export feature, the file itself is stored as XML in this path (if C: ist your homedrive):

C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\Windows Live Writer\LinkGlossary\linkglossary.xml

[Thanks to Dirk for helping me out with that, Vista search is just unusable and my locate32 failed me. ]
The file is structured extremly simple:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
   <title>   </title>
   <rel>   </rel>

With a spreadsheet and some text editors search and replace you can make and keep your personal link file in seconds. Due to the structured xml file, even exporting it again and working with it is a piece of cake.

It is not only a blog posting tool, it is a marketing vehicle for other services from MS
Have a look at the second half of this writer demonstration. Once you get over the ?bah it is scripted? you should pay attention at how easy it is made for a normal user to a) do great enhanced blog postings and b) even more important get tied into using Microsoft offerings from Video to Maps to more.

Now imagine how MS pushed this to the massed out there and they get used to having these features at hand for blogging. Now go back again to a plattform like WordPress and have a look at the dashboard and imagine your mom and dad. Do they really need to have that ugly interface to have control which they do not desire or do you think they will go for a Spaces account (which they have anyway) and use the shiny tools at hand? Exactly.

Further links:

Plugins for WLW + a selection:

  • WLW Scrubber
    Some code that WLW automatically add into your post make you angry? With this plugin, you just select the entire post, and then click on this plugin (Insert Scrubbed Content), some code such as "<div class="wlWriterEditableSmartContent" … will be removed
    Note: does not work with Vista, not tested on other systems
  • Related Posts
    This plugin provides a way to add a "related posts" section in your blog post no matter what blog system you’re using.That said, the plugin does depend on on which you have to save links (and tags) to all of your blog entries for the plugin to reference (see Usage below).
  • Imtech Find & Replace Live Writer Plugin
    The missing search & replace feature for Windows Live Writter. Supports Regular Expression replace as well
  • Polaroid Picture
    Add cool Polaroid-style pictures to your blog. This plugin allows you to tilt your polaroid in either direction and even add a text-caption to the photo.
  • Insert Source Code Snippet
    This plugin converts clipboard with source code copied from Visual Studio or any other development environment and converts it into well-formatted HTML to post into your blog. Optionally you can add lines numbering or formated header for your snippet. It also detects, that the content of clipboard has been changed and promp you to update your snippet
  • Text Template
    The Text Template plugin lets you save commonly used "snips" of HTML. From phrases you use, to moods, links, terms and more. Apply Categories to your templates to allow for easy sorting and filtering. You can even givem them their own icon…
  • Flickr4Writer
    Flickr4Writer is a plugin that enables interaction with the Flickr(tm) services. You can browse by tags, photosets, or a simple photostream. After browsing, the plugin enables inserting the image reference into a post.
  • Event Plugin
    Create your own events or find existing events through intergrated search of the website. Format the event, add a picture, edit the description, customize what data is displayed. The published post included correct hCalendar microformatting. The plugin also enables pastes of Live Clipboard copied events and Blog This of events from the website.
  • FF Addon Live Writerfox


2 Responses to “Awesome: Windows Live Writer gets auto linking”

  1. daksh says:

    Thanks for the insightful write-up Nicole! Its fascinating to see the enhancement in desktop blogging tools. Almost till a month ago, I had been using Windows Live Writer for my blogging purposes. However, I’ve now switched back to the web-based blogging environment of my blog-publisher because of this beautiful firefox plugin Zemanta. Although its efficiency is improving its semantic search simply picks up images, tags, hyperlinks from the web and allows me to embed the same in the web-post.

    Irrespective of desktop/web-based plugins and tools the bloggers are at advantage now :)

  2. Wayne says:

    Nice to see my favorite blogging tool getting a little upgrade. Most needed and well deserved upgrade for that matter.

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention.