Posting to a Community Central for SharePoint 2010 Blog Using Windows Live Writer

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.

Setup

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:

Windows Live Writer Installation

Once the installation has completed, you will be prompted to configure the blog account:

Windows Live Writer Installation Options

Next, select SharePoint as your blogging platform:

Windows Live Writer Installation Platform

Next, you will be asked to enter the URL address for the appropriate blog site where you want to publish:

Windows Live Writer Installation URL

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:

Community Central Blog Site

Enter the URL in the blog Web address field as shown above.

Windows Live Writer Installation Theme

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.

Windows Live Writer Installation Download Theme

This information will include the theme, CSS, and other graphics that are used for previewing blog posts.

Windows Live Writer Installation Blogsite

After completing those simple steps, you’re ready to create a blog post.

Windows Live Writer Preview

Note that one of the least publicizedbut very usefulfeatures 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:

Windows Live Writer Edit

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.

Happy blogging!

For further reading:


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