March 19, 2016

Should we use Open Live Writer in place of native blog editors?

Open Live Writer is one of the best programs for composing blog posts if we are not satisfied with the native editors of WordPress, Blogger, Typepad etc.

Open Live Writer took shape in end-2015 when the original Windows Live Writer was given away to open source community. The original WLW still exists but Microsoft does not seem to have much inclination to upgrade that.

Right now, users of Windows - versions older than Windows 8 - and Mac may have difficulty in using it. Windows 10 is fine, and Windows 7 / 8 work if it installs (or it may have some issues - if so, don't try it any further on these versions of Windows).

Excellent Features of Open Live Writer

OLW is a great writing tool. It may not be as good as Word in text editing, but it still is better than the native Blogger or WordPress post editors. Among its text tools, it has many more fonts, ease of manipulating text with ‘styles’ and text options, and spelling checker.

Other tools/ functionalities worth mentioning: easy drag and drop of images and videos; built-in image editor; automatic linking for often used links; easy insertion of tables, maps and emoticons.

The OLW is in its infancy but has support of a committed team and community, so it is likely to go past native editors on major blogging platforms who seem to be busy on many things at the same time and barely focused on post editing. OLW team has announced that they would soon come up with plugins for missing actions.

It is reported that OLW generates cleaner HTML as compared to native editors, but we did not find any difference. We’d update if we come to learn more about this from authoritative sources.

OLW not only is an authoring tool, it can send a draft to your native blog account (e.g. Blogger account) or directly publish it.

One big advantage of using OLW in place of native post editors is that OLW saves a copy on the computer itself, so it is great for working offline.

Another advantage over native editors is that you can open more than one account together.

You can download OLW from openlivewriter.org.

A final word on blog post editors

There are many more post editors. We tried some of them before writing this post, and read reports from people using and promoting these. We find that if OLW fits into your system, it is the best offline post editor.

That is its biggest limitation: fitting into your system. At present it works best on Windows 10. So, let's repeat that, users of older Windows versions or Mac cannot use it. It is also not usable on smartphones / through email – at least as of now.

We have seen notable improvements in post editors of both Blogger and WordPress in the last few years. Now they need to add only a few more functionalities to be as good as OLW.

We recommend the following:

Go for the best of both the worlds! Compose the post in OLW and edit it till it is perfect. Take it to the native editor of WordPress / Blogger and make whatever final adjustments you need to do. For example, positioning of images and putting alt tag / caption etc on these would be needed and Blogger’s native editor does that very well. If you have a self-hosted blog, the host must have given you an editor; has it some capabilities better than OLW - if yes, edit the OLW-created-draft on it to refine it to your liking.