This past week, Bamboo Solutions released Community Central for SharePoint 2010, a new SharePoint-based social solution that enjoyed a great reception when it was previewed for attendees at both the recent SharePoint Conference in Anaheim and the European SharePoint Conference in Berlin. SharePoint, and the 2010 release in particular, provides good out-of-the-box discussion boards and blogs, and when combined with features such as search, workflow, alerting, and records management, social networking provides the depth that makes those discussion boards and blogs really shine within the collaborative framework. The greatest value of Community Central comes into play extending the already extensive social network and knowledge-sharing features of the SharePoint platform adding critical real-world functionality to blogging and forum management.
Community Central is an example of how a “killer application” can be built on the SharePoint platform, and one of the benefits for SharePoint users using such an application is that many of the operations and extensions can be done on the base platform itself. One such capability is using Windows Live Writer to create and publish a blog post.
Although it’s easy to create a blog post using the out-of-the-box-editor, it lacks a great deal of functionality and a great user experience. One of the biggest issues with the browser-based editor in SharePoint that I find distracting is the inability to “pause” writing. And if you’ve ever had the experience of writing for 30 minutes before getting up to go for a cup of coffee, only tor return to a “session time out,” you know exactly what I mean.
Windows Live Writer, on the other hand, is a desktop application which provides a much better experience writing, editing, and publishing blogs. Some of the advantages of using Windows Live Writer are:
- Allows offline blogging which, as I mentioned above, is almost a “must” feature for blogging while traveling, particularly at live events when access to the server is either unreliable or unavailable.
- Provides a good preview of the post before publishing.
- Supports multiple blogging platforms.
- Much better tool for inserting images, videos, and handling of HTML formatting.
If you don’t already have it, Windows Live Writer 2011 is a free product, and can be downloaded from http://explore.live.com/windows-live-writer. Once the download has completed, run the executable to install Windows Live Writer:
Once the installation has completed, you will be prompted to configure the blog account:
Next, select SharePoint as your blogging platform:
Next, you will be asked to enter the URL address for the appropriate blog site where you want to publish:
Note that Community Central provides multiple blog sites, which are then aggregated to a top-level Blog Home site. Make sure to note the URL of the correct blog site and not the top level site:
Enter the URL in the blog Web address field as shown above.
Windows Live Writer will then connect to the Community Central blog site and download the necessary information to be used locally when you create a blog post.
This information will include the theme, CSS, and other graphics that are used for previewing blog posts.
After completing those simple steps, you’re ready to create a blog post.
Note that one of the least publicized—but very useful—features is the ability to view and edit posts from a blog site. You can access this dialog from the application icon at the top-left, and then selecting Open recent post:
Remember that publishing a blog post using Windows Live Writer will also trigger any workflow or content approval that you have set up on the blog sites.
For further reading:
- This is just one of the many ways that you can configure and extend an application from Bamboo just working with tools that are provided with the platform. For additional information on SharePoint blogs, see this excellent series of articles from our own John Anderson. In particular, see his article on Publishing a SharePoint Blog Directly from Word.
- Learn more about Community Central for SharePoint 2010 and download a free 30-day trial today.