Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

WordPress vs Live Writer: The Image Smackdown

Filed under: Blog Accessibility,Blogging — by at 12:32 am on Thursday, March 12, 2009

WordPress versus Windows Live Writer In my blogging, I use both the blogging platform WordPress 2.7 and the offline editor Windows Live Writer 2009 for writing the posts. I have been amazed by how differently the two applications handle images. In fact, I have often wondered, usually late at night, which one is most accessible in terms of the images.

Today is the day to put the two applications in a byte-to-byte, no holds barred smackdown!

Round #1: Inserting an Image

The first step in inserting an image into a post is to identify the image.

In the Live Writer corner: the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + L opens the “Insert Picture” dialog box to choose the image from either my computer or from the web.

The Insert picture dialog box in Live Writer

In the WordPress corner: after some poking around, I found the keyboard shortcut Alt + Shift + M for inserting an image. This option is for an image that is already online.

The Insert/edit image dialog box in WordPress

If, however, the image needs to be uploaded, I must use the “Add an Image” button on the Upload/Insert toolbar:

WordPress Upload/Insert Media toolbar - First button is "Add an Image"

After some more poking around and reading Using Images in Posts, I could not find a way to activate the “Add an Image” button using the keyboard. Even by tabbing, I couldn’t reach the button.

According to the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0 – Working Draft, which applies to both WordPress and Live Writer, “Authors with a wide range of abilities must be able to operate the functions and components of the authoring tool user interface.” Unless I missed finding a way to access the “Add an Image” button using the keyboard, this function is not available to bloggers relying solely on the keyboard.

Round #2: Using the Interface

The next step in inserting images into a post is to set the positioning or alignment, and to enter the alternative text (alt) to benefit individuals using screen readers and to make it searchable by search engines.

Picture panel - advanced tab in Live write Writer In the Live Writer corner: a straightforward interface in a sidebar for manipulating images. After poking around for at least half an hour, I could not find a way to get from the main Writer window to Picture side panel using the keyboard. That doesn’t mean a way doesn’t exist; I simply didn’t find it. Once in the side panel, the settings are operable via the keyboard. However, switching between the three tabs – Picture, Advanced, and Effects – using the keyboard also remains a mystery.

Under the Advanced tab, the alt text can be entered. Advanced? Alternative text is crucial to accessibility. One penalty point!

In the WordPress corner: the dialog box is not straightforward:

Add an image dialog box in WordPress 2.7

I am presented with four text boxes (or fields) without a clear understanding of what they are for. The Title box is marked with a red asterisk, likely indicating a required field; yet a note under the Caption box says “Also used as alternate text for the image. The Title is required, but the Caption is the alt? One penalty!

William Lawrence kindly explained the four fields in a comment on WordPress 2.7: A Brief Accessibility Review:

When inserting an image with WordPress all that is required is the Title which then gets used for the title and alt attribute of the image element. This is kind of good, because it kind of meets ATAG requirements, however because the content in the title and alt attributes are duplicated, this is inappropriate as it duplicates the context of the content. In addition, if one does not change the title of the image from an improper file name, the meaning is lost.

When one adds caption text, this additional text is placed next to the image and alt attribute of the image, while the title attribute of the image remains the title, or filename, of the image. This is kind of okay because now the image element no longer has duplicate content for these attribute, however the alternative text for the image now repeats what duplicated in the content of the article: inappropriate and repetitive.

Meanwhile, the description text is used as content for Attachment post page if one chooses to publish each image as a separate attachment post. More information can be found on their Codex for Using Image and File Attachments.

I need a flow chart to follow that! Another penalty.

Tip for bloggers: Because these two applications and many others do use the filename for the default alt text, make the filename more descriptive (and use a hyphen or underscore between words) when originally saving the image on your computer. This may not be the ideal alt, but it might prompt you to then revise the text when inserting the image.

Round #3: Validating the Code

Besides being accessible to me – the blogger, the application must also output content that is accessible to the blog readers. One way of measuring the content’s accessibility is to see whether the published code validates using a tool such as the W3C Markup Validation Service

In the Live Writer corner: the published code –

<img title="Glenda’s avatar" style="border-right: 0px; border-top: 0px; display: inline; margin-left: 0px; border-left: 0px; margin-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px" height="178" alt="Glenda’s avatar" src=" 102c1971.jpg" width="178"  align="left" border="0" />

– validates with no errors!

In the WordPress corner: the published code –

<div id="attachment_559" class="wp-caption alignleft" style="width: 188px"><img class="size-full wp-image-559" title="Glenda’s avatar" src=" 102c1971.jpg" alt="Cute chick!" width="178" height="178" /><p class="wp-caption-text">Cute chick!</p></div>

– validates with no errors!

Frankly, I am surprised by this round’s results. This round was the one that had me wondering late at night. I thought the deprecated elements (code no longer used) and the repetitiveness of the title (in Live Writer) and the Caption (in WordPress) would have been marked as errors.

Bonus Round: Additional features

Although not directly related to accessibility, having extras for manipulating images are quite handy. It saves having yet another application open and switching between the two. Glenda's avatar with the added features of photopaper and slightly tilted

In the Live Writer corner: a variety of borders and actions (i.e. rotate, crop and watermark) that can be applied to images to add interest.

In the WordPress corner: zilch! WordPress is down. Its a knockout!

In terms of the accessibility of using images in posts, the winner is…Windows Live Writer!

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Comment by Douglas T

March 13, 2009 @ 5:34 am

I’ve been very disappointed with the accessibility of the admin portion of WordPress. They need to do better.

Comment by Giovanna Garcia

March 13, 2009 @ 12:20 pm

Wow, thank you for the detail different between word press and Live Writer. I got started on Word press and has been using it ever since. Your post open my eyes to something that could be better.
Thank you,
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Comment by CSea Perkins

March 13, 2009 @ 12:29 pm

Excellent review; sincerely appreciate you making time to share with us. I’ll be checking it out.

May the blessings permeate your life …CSea

Comment by Glenda

March 13, 2009 @ 12:33 pm

@Douglas, have you tried other blogging platforms? I’m curious how WordPress stacks up.

@Giovanna, thank you. I was amazed by how differently the two aps handle images. I definitely found Live Write more accessible and user-friendly – in terms of images.

Comment by Ad Hustler

March 13, 2009 @ 1:16 pm

WordPress is LEEPS AND BOUNDS more superior.

Comment by Glenda

March 13, 2009 @ 1:25 pm

@Ad Hustler, WordPress is definitely superior – in many aspects! But, when it comes to the accessibility of images, would you agree Live Writer is better?

Comment by Amelia Johnson

March 13, 2009 @ 5:05 pm

This topic is enlightening. I have been waiting to use a newer version of Word Press to see if the images would load better. I have found that I can use the film strip icon to post the image in the post but the finer points have eluded me.

Thank yous to Giovanna and Glenda for sharing this information.

Comment by Douglas T

March 13, 2009 @ 6:23 pm

I’ve used other blogging platforms, but I’ve never taken the time to do any in depth accessibility testing. I’ve recently been evaluating the Drupal CMS, which includes blogging features. I’ll let you know when I’ve got a more complete picture, but I’m very impressed so far.

Comment by Joe Cheng [MSFT]

March 21, 2009 @ 4:53 pm

Hi Glenda, I’m one of the developers of Windows Live Writer. You can actually move between the different areas of the application window (including the sidebar) by pressing F6.

When you first F6 into the image sidebar, the focus should be on the “Picture” tab. You can press right-arrow to move the focus to the Advanced tab, then press Space to select the tab.

We do know we have some keyboard accessibility bugs in the image sidebar and in a couple of other areas–all the ones we know about will be fixed in our next release.

Hope that helps…

Comment by Vaibhav

June 21, 2009 @ 1:34 am

One great thing about LiveWriter is that you can copy paste screenshots and clippings directly into the interface, something not possible with WordPress.

LW automatically creates a PNG file to upload when posting.

On the flip side, the name it gives to the PNG file is a problem (usually – image.png). As of now, I am searching for a way to override this functionality.

Nice article, by the way 🙂

Comment by Jason Pelker

July 22, 2009 @ 3:26 pm

You’d rather use an editor that inserts this much inline CSS and uses the image align tag? That essentially kills your style sheet. I would never recommend this to a client.

Comment by Glenda

July 22, 2009 @ 4:45 pm

Jason, point taken. Thank you. What do you recommend to clients for writing their posts?

Comment by marylee

March 17, 2011 @ 9:50 pm

Hey, Glenda,
I don’t understand a word of this, but it is great that you are doing it — and clearly it is really useful to those who work more closely with either program. Truly impressive!

all the best!


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