The Windows Live team released a new tool for editing and creating blogs yesterday called Windows Live Writer (WLW). I am using it right now to post this entry, and I am impressed. It supports WYSIWYG editing, saving drafts of my posts, inline photos, and -- can you believe it? -- support for multiple blogging engines: Live Spaces (of course), Blogger, and many others. Any blog site that supports the Really Simple Discoverability (RSD), Metaweblog API, or Movable Type API is supported out of the box. With this free tool and the upcoming Word 2007 release, Internet Explorer now offers a set of professional tools for blogging.
So why does this get mention on the IE blog? Because if you have the Windows Live Toolbar (WLT), WLW installs an add-on. The add-on is a custom button for the Windows Live Toolbar with options to blog the current page, create a new post, or open an existing post.
Custom buttons allow developers to use the Windows Live Toolbar to extend the functionality of IE. This gives you a chance to add features that the IE and WLT teams have yet to invent. With a little XML, you can add a button that searches the Internet, opens an arbitrary web site, displays information from your web site, or performs actions from a custom drop-down menu. The documentation and samples are available on MSDN, to get you up and started quickly.
The Windows Live Writer team took advantage of these extensions to create a "Blog this page..." button. Clicking on that button starts Windows Live Writer and opens a new post on your personal blog. This gives quick access to your blog, directly from within the IE browser frame window.
What will you do with custom buttons? Give Windows Live Writer a try, and take a crack at custom buttons. Share your ideas for other custom buttons below.
Mark HarrisLead Program Manager