For those of you who read this blog there was one piece of news last week that I’m sure got you excited.
A team of volunteers, with the full support of Microsoft, has taken our loved Windows Live Writer (which I am using right now to write this) and given it a new lease on live.
Say hello to Open Live Writer!
Today is the day. An independent group of volunteers within Microsoft has successfully open sourced and forked Windows Live Writer. The fork is called Open Live Writer (also known as OLW) and it is part of the .NET Foundation and managed by this group of volunteers. Read the fantastic announcement at the .NET Foundation Blog! Download Open Live Writer now!
Windows Live Writer Released as the open source Open Live Writer
It’s a great day for bloggers who have a favorite tool for creating content. Today Microsoft announced that Open Live Writer was released and has been contributed to the .NET Foundation. Open Live Writer is an open source application enabling users to author, edit, and publish blog posts. It is based on a fork of the well–loved but not actively developed Windows Live Writer code. Scott Hanselman helped carry the torch at Microsoft on this project, and I’ve been proud to be part of the all-volunteer team to make it happen.
History of Windows Live Writer
The product that became Live Writer was originally created by a small, super-talented team of engineers including Jeremy Allaire, JJ Allaire, Joe Cheng, Charles Teague, and Spike Washburn. The team joined Microsoft through an acquisition in 2006 and organized with the Spaces team where I was working. Becky Pezely joined the team and over time, the team grew and shipped many popular releases of Windows Live Writer.
As Microsoft was planning for the version of Windows Live that would coincide with the Windows 8 operating system release, the teams that built the Windows Live client apps for Windows were encouraged to focus on building a smaller set of Windows 8 apps designed to work well with both traditional PC input mechanisms and touch. The original team concluded their work on Windows Live Writer with Windows Live Writer 2012.
Reviving Live Writer
Even though there was no active development, Windows Live Writer continued to be a favorite tool of a passionate community of Windows PC users for authoring, editing, and publishing blog posts. Data from WordPress.com at the time suggested that Windows Live Writer (even two years after active development ended) was the #1 app for authoring a blog post to WordPress.com on a Windows PC. In fact, some of our technical evangelists were actively using Windows Live Writer for publishing on WordPress-powered blogs. A few team members from my former MS Open Tech team took an early interest in joining Scott Hanselman to revive Live Writer as an open source project.
By January 2015, a group of about a half-dozen engineers interested in spending some of their volunteer time to help release an updated version of Live Writer had found each other. Jon Gallant sent an email to a few large group email lists at Microsoft soliciting volunteers and we collected about 50 people interested in helping. Anne Legato, Ed Essey, and the team at The Garage were most helpful in sharing advice on launching external projects. Scott Guthrie also agreed to be Open Live Writer’s sponsor.
You might wonder why we’re releasing a version 0.5 now instead of waiting to get to a v0.9 or a v1.0. A few considerations went into this. First, we wanted to get this out as an open source project as quickly as possible so people outside of Microsoft could start participating. Second, we suspect many people may be taking some vacation around the end of December and we wanted to make sure the project was available. Third, Eddie Kessler and the folks on Google’s Blogger team asked us to ship no later than early December 2015 so they could turn-off an old API that Windows Live Writer was dependent on. Eddie and team originally had planned to turn-off the API earlier and we are thankful for their collaboration and partnership in extending its life until we could release Open Live Writer.
Best of all the project is really open source, with a number of Pull Requests already pending and merged.
Finally, the part that I love the most is that it compiles and runs with no issues, the first time!
I fired up VS 2015, cloned the https://github.com/OpenLiveWriter/OpenLiveWriter repo, built the solution and I had Open Live Writer running. Woot!
That said, you can tell the codebase is dated and it really is a 0.5.0.0 (i.e. work in progress), but hey, it works (in most cases, Atom and Blogger are coming real soon).
Are you a WLW user? Want to help in its resurrection? Looking for an open source project to help on? http://openlivewriter.org/!