Tutorial: using Windows LiveWriter with LightCMS blogs

As announced last week, we’ve launched the all-new LightCMS blogging API. In last week’s post, we promised to follow up with some tutorials and examples of how you can utilize this API, so here we go. Today, we’re going to take a look at using Windows LiveWriter to publish blog posts to blogs on LightCMS.

Why use Windows LiveWriter?

Windows LiveWriter is perhaps the most polished and robust application available to use with a MetaWeblog enabled API such as what we’ve launched on LightCMS. Plus, it’s free!

As you know, when dealing with an API client, your user experience will depend greatly on the quality of the client software tool you are using. We’re featuring LiveWriter first because, from our experience, it offers the most complete user experience. It’s main downside is that it’s only available for the PC. Don’t worry, Mac users. We’ll cover some additional tools that you can use in future posts.

There are several reasons you might choose to utilize Windows LiveWriter. First, you might enjoy the WYSIWYG experience it offers. Second, you might enjoy the image editing / formatting functionality provided. Third, you can work offline with LiveWriter and then publish whenever you are online. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you might enjoy the convenience of a desktop-based tool that can be launched quickly and easily without having to navigate to the correct web page, log in and the like. It can be especially convenient if you manage multiple blogs to which you can publish easily from the LiveWriter interface without having to log in to each one individually.

Naturally, you’ll have to decide for yourself if Windows LiveWriter is a good tool for you. This tutorial will help you get up and running with it so you can test it and make that determination. Personally, I’m still making that decision for myself. I’m creating and publishing this blog post in LiveWriter, so we’ll see how it goes.

Step One: Install LiveWriter

You’ll need to install the software on your local computer. Visit the LiveWriter website, download and install.

Step Two: Add your blog(s)

For each blog you want to publish, follow this procedure.

Go to “Blogs –> Add blog account” on the top toolbar (see image below)

AddBlogAccount

Choose “Other blog service” in the list of options (see image below)

SelectBlogService

Enter your blog’s information

In the top box, enter the URL of the page that your blog is on. For our demonstration blog, we enter http://featuredemos.publishpath.com/blog. Then enter the username and password you use to log in to your account. See the image below.

AddBlogDetails 

Manually configure the details

LiveWriter will likely not auto-detect your blog settings. That’s ok, because you can manually configure the details on the following screen. Here, you’ll want to select “Community Server” in the blog type field. We’ve found that LiveWriter works better with our blog system when you choose “Community Server” instead of “MetaWeblog API.” Then, in the “Remote posting URL” field, you’ll enter a URL as follows:

https://[your publishpath domain]/metaweblog.ashx

You must use “https” as our API only works over secure connections (see image below).

ManuallyConfigure

Finish the setup

After selecting your blog type, LiveWriter will take a moment to configure your blog. If you have multiple blog elements on your site, it will bring up a list of your blog elements and ask you which one to configure. You’ll need to select the blog element you wish to publish to. If you only have one blog element on your site, you will not have to complete this step.

At some point, LiveWriter will ask you if you would like for it to download your blog’s template. This action usually doesn’t work. That’s ok, because you really don’t need it, so you can just tell it not to attempt the download.

Configure FTP for images

Once your blog is set up, you will be taken back to the main LiveWriter screen. At the top right you will see the name of your blog. If you add more blogs, you can switch between them by using that selector at the top right. You are now set up to publish to your blog, but if you want to let LiveWriter publish images to your blog as well as text, you need to complete one additional step.

Select “Blogs –> Edit blog settings” on the top toolbar. On the screen that comes up, choose “pictures” on the left hand menu. Then select the radio button for “Upload pictures to an FTP server.” Then, click on the “Configure FTP” button (see the image below).

ConfiguringPictures

On the FTP screen, you’ll need to fill in your site’s FTP details. You can get more information about using FTP with LightCMS on our support site, but here is a basic overview of the information you’ll need to fill in.

FTP hostname: ftp.[your publishpath address]

Username: [your login name]/[your publishpath address]

Password: [your password]

See the image below for more information.

ConfigureFTP

After entering your login info, click the button to the right of the “Publish pictures into this folder” field and it will bring up a list of folders you have on your site. Click on the “Images” folder and either select the folder you want or create a new folder to store images in. Then on the “URL of picture publishing folder” field, enter:

http://[your publishpath address]/Website/[your website name]/[the path to your selected folder]

Ok, I know that’s a handful, so here an example for you:

If my publishpath address is: featuredemos.publishpath.com

And my publishing folder is: /Images/Blog

Then the URL to my publishing folder is: http://featuredemos.publishpath.com/Websites/featuredemos/Images/Blog

When you select “OK,” LiveWriter will attempt to verify your publishing URL and warn you if it encounters any problems. If no warning is given, you should be good to go.

Step three: go forth and publish

Now that you are configured, you can use LiveWriter to publish to your blog. You can also “open” any of your existing blog posts inside LiveWriter, edit them, and publish back to your blog. One helpful hint to keep in mind – use the “categories” feature of LiveWriter to create what LightCMS calls “tags.”

Give LiveWriter a try with your LightCMS blogs and let us know what you think. I can say that my experience using it for this post has been pretty good. I might just start using it regularly for my blogging.

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