Thoughts on the Live Gallery/Live Writer Plug-in Change

Windows Live Gallery is dead! Ok, technically it’s not, but it looks like it hasn’t long left of this world. Yes, yes, I know, we’re basing this on purely one section of the site being cut off and moved/deprecated, but we’ve seen all this before from Microsoft.

But what does this mean for us Live Writer plug-in developers? Well, we all have WLIDs, so putting our plug-ins in our SkyDrive area won’t be a problem, and in fact, for me at least, having plug-ins in my SkyDrive area is nothing new, but I do see a problem with this.

Microsoft seems to be intent on having Windows Live users having zero statistics available to them, it started with them being removed from Live Spaces, carried on with SkyDrive Wave 4 still not having any download statistics about your files, and continues here, with this decision. On Live Gallery, a developer could see how popular certain plug-ins were by looking at the download numbers, however, by moving the hosting of these to SkyDrive, we get the aforementioned problem of no download statistics.

Not only this, but everything will feel a little disjointed, having everyone’s plug-in hosted in their own SkyDrive means it’s not all centralized. What kind of search facilities are there going to be? How easy are the plug-ins going to be to come by? I guess the answer that latter question will possibly be the same as it currently is. When you click the button in Live Writer to go to more plug-ins, it takes you to this link, which I assume Microsoft will change where that redirect URL goes to. Let’s hope it’s that simple.

But it’s this part of the email itself that concerns me (read the full email on Aaron’s blog):

Note: Existing plug-ins currently hosted on Windows Live Gallery will need to be resubmitted using the new process outlined below.

So everyone who has ever submitted a plug-in has to resubmit theirs. Whilst this sounds innocuous, it’s not. As Aaron points out, “Since we have years of submissions there is a chance that you have changed your email address and did not get notified,” so what if a plug-in that is used regularly is made by a developer who no longer has the same address? This means that the plug-in will no longer feature in the “official list” of plug-ins. Gone. Finished with. Hopefully, if this is the case for a developer someone might point out this change so that it can get submitted, but still, it’s a pain.

As a personal thing, it’s also a royal pain for me as I have more than just one or two plug-ins to resubmit, some of which I might have to download from Live Gallery as I have no idea where they live on my computer (oops).

One other question I have for the Writer team would be, is this list just for true plug-ins, or will we be able to submit tools to be included on the list (wlwbackup for example)? I would hope so, if we’re moving away from Live Gallery, now is the time attempt some kind of improvements. But as usual with Microsoft, it all sounds rather vague at the moment and we won’t actually know what we’re getting until we get it.

Overall, I’m not happy with this change, if you’re going to change something, make it better, not worse. Offer more, not less. In the meantime, I now have to decide whether or not I’ll just self host my plug-ins so I can get some stats on them, seeing as though we won’t be getting them from Microsoft.

What are your thoughts on this? Are you a developer who is going to be impacted by this? Will you be resubmitting your plug-in to this new list? Let us know in the comments.