Windows Live Writer

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Here’s a tip for anyone who’s using Windows Live Writer for blogging and wants to paste code into the articles.

Ever since my first code post back in July 2008 I have tried about four different Live Writer plug-ins to get the code formatting right.  Three of those are still installed today and I regularly use two of them.  As I post code samples in several languages (SQL, MDX, C#, VB, XML, …) I need the plug-in to support all those languages and to turn the code into decent output.  It would be ideal if I could do all this with just one plug-in.

Disclaimer: the code shown in this article is copied from my own blog or from Microsoft code samples.  They are not guaranteed to be complete and are just for demonstration purposes.  No explanation is provided on what the code is supposed to be doing either.

The Old Stuff

Following three screenshots will show you those three plug-ins in action.

Code Snippet

More info through this link and even more info on the author’s blog.

Code Snippet in action with some C# code

Colorized Code

More info through this link

Code Colorizer in action with some T-SQL

Source Code Formatter

More info through this link

Source Code in action with some XML

This last one is the one that I don’t use very often – to be honest I don’t even remember what I’ve actually used it for…

Now, back to the real reason for this article.

Time For Something New

As I mentioned before, I’m not extremely happy with the fact that I need to use several plug-ins for a similar task.  I keep forgetting which one the more interesting one is for SQL, or for C#, or whatever, I think you get my point.  It would be perfect if one plug-in could do all this.  And it has taken me quite a while but I think I may finally have found that one plug-in.  You can see it in action in my previous post.  Doesn’t that look nice?

What I like most about this plug-in is that the developer has taken a different approach to get the formatting done.  All other plug-ins that I’ve tried required me to paste the code into a pop-up window and select the right programming language, as I’ve shown you above.  This one is much simpler: it takes what is stored in the clipboard, including the formatting!

In my opinion this has two interesting advantages:

  • Faster: no messing around with a pop-up window
  • Accurate: as it uses the formatting as provided by the application from which it was copied, it will look exactly the same!  Which is something that I can’t say about the other plug-ins.

Okay, this means I don’t have any other options either, no line numbering, no alternating background coloring, …  But who cares when the output looks good?  And I don’t use those extra features anyway.

Here are some pasted snippets using my new favorite plug-in.

SQL copied from the Management Studio (SSMS 2008)

--a comment
declare @number int = 42;
declare @character char(1) = '0';
declare @expectedLength int = 8;
/* a block comment */
select REPLICATE(@character, @expectedLength - LEN(@number)) 
+ CAST(@number as varchar(8)) as Result;

MDX Copied From SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS 2008)

SELECT NON EMPTY { [Measures].[Reseller Sales Amount], [Measures].[Reseller Order Quantity] } ON COLUMNS,
NON EMPTY { ([Geography].[Geography].[Postal Code].ALLMEMBERS ) }
FROM [Adventure Works]

C# Copied From Visual Studio (VS 2008)

public partial class StoredProcedures
    public static void WeatherSP(string zipCode)
        Weather myWeatherWS = new Weather();
        WeatherReturn weatherResult = myWeatherWS.GetCityWeatherByZIP(zipCode);

        SqlMetaData[] recordMetaData = new SqlMetaData[2];
        // layout of the records that we'll return
        recordMetaData[0] = new SqlMetaData("Description", SqlDbType.Char, 100);
        recordMetaData[1] = new SqlMetaData("Value", SqlDbType.Char, 1000);

        // build a record based on the metadata
        SqlDataRecord record = new SqlDataRecord(recordMetaData);

        // let's start sending result into the active pipe

XML Copied From Visual Studio (VS 2008)

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
        <add key="MyWebService" value="http://MyWebServiceServer:MyWSPort/PathTo/MyWebService.asmx" />

VB.NET Copied From Visual Studio (VS 2005)

#Region "AddColumnInformation"

    '/ <summary>
    '/ Stores the column information of the provided input and output objects in a ColumnInfo object.
    '/ This method is called by the RemoveDuplicates component during PreExecute when the BufferManager
    '/ is available, and assumes the exact same number of input and output columns.
    '/ </summary>
    '/ <param name="bufferManager">The IDTSBufferManager100; used to locate the columns
    '/ in the input and output buffers.</param>
    '/ <param name="output">The output of the component.</param>
    '/ <param name="input">The input of the component.</param>
    <System.Diagnostics.CodeAnalysis.SuppressMessage("Microsoft.Usage", "CA2201:DoNotRaiseReservedExceptionTypes")> _
    <System.Diagnostics.CodeAnalysis.SuppressMessage("Microsoft.Globalization", "CA1303:DoNotPassLiteralsAsLocalizedParameters", MessageId:="System.Exception.#ctor(System.String)")> _
    <CLSCompliant(False)> _
    Public Sub AddColumnInformation(ByVal bufferManager As IDTSBufferManager100, ByVal output As IDTSOutput100, ByVal input As IDTSInput100)
        If input Is Nothing Then
            Throw New ArgumentNullException("input")
        End If

        If output Is Nothing Then
            Throw New ArgumentNullException("output")
        End If

        If bufferManager Is Nothing Then
            Throw New ArgumentNullException("bufferManager")
        End If

        If input.InputColumnCollection.Count <> output.OutputColumnCollection.Count Then
            Throw New Exception("Input column collection does not match the output column collection.")
        End If

        For x As Integer = 0 To output.OutputColumnCollection.Count - 1
            Dim colInfo As New ColumnInfo()
            Dim outCol As IDTSOutputColumn100 = output.OutputColumnCollection(x)
            Dim inCol As IDTSInputColumn100 = input.InputColumnCollection(x)

            ' Set the buffer column index for the input column and the output column.
            colInfo.inputBufferColumnIndex = bufferManager.FindColumnByLineageID(input.Buffer, inCol.LineageID)
            colInfo.outputBufferColumnIndex = bufferManager.FindColumnByLineageID(output.Buffer, outCol.LineageID)

            ' Save the column
        Next x
    End Sub
#End Region
End Class

One feature though that I’d like to see is a horizontal scrollbar when the code lines are longer than the width of the code block.  Right now it automatically wraps the text which makes it a bit difficult to read.  So I have to pay attention when pasting code.  Although it’s not always obvious, you can see this wrapping occur in three of the above code snippets (MDX, XML, VB.NET).

To conclude this article: the new plug-in that I’m using is called Paste from Visual Studio (or VSPaste), developed by Douglas Stockwell.  You can download it here.

Out of curiosity, I wonder how it performs when pasting formatted text from Word (2007):

PrFont34Bin0BinSub0Frac0Def1Margin0Margin0Jc1Indent1440Lim0Lim1Some bold text
And some italic
Italic, bold and underline in combination
Text in blue and green and red on one line

Okay, ow, look at that, I’m writing in red now, that can’t be the intention! Luckily Live Writer allows me to switch back to black.

Update: the “writing in red” was apparently only visible in Live Writer…

So, conclusion: VSPaste not only works when pasting from Visual Studio, SQL Server Management Studio is working perfect as well!  But Word is not.  But that’s not a problem :-)

Happy blogging!



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I’m using Windows Live Writer (version 2008, build 12.0.1370.325) to write my posts on this WordPress 2.6 blog.  To be able to do this I had to make a couple of changes to the default configuration of WordPress.

  1. Activate XML-RPC in Settings > Writing, by default this is disabled.
  2. Modify the upload folder in Settings > Miscellaneous.  By default this was “wp-content”.  I changed it to “wp-content/uploads” and I created the uploads folder manually on the server (with 777 rights).  This is the folder where the images will end up.

After these two changes I was able connect to the blog with WLW and post the article about the black background issue (which contains an image).


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