You have a WordPress website. You want to add content when you’re ‘away from your desk’. You have one or more iOS devices. What’s the best app for the job?
I’ve taken the opportunity of a 2-week family holiday to introduce the wife and kids to blogging. Specifically, we’ve set up a family website where all 5 of us can share photos, videos and stories. If you’re interested, feel welcome to have a look – www.thebowenfamily.info – registration is required to read the posts in full.
Although I registered the domain and installed WordPress at home on the iMac (I followed Luke Moulton’s excellent free visual guide How to Make Websites) all the content creation has been done on the iPad, iPhones or iPods.
As far as I’m aware there are 2 main options for blogging using iOS devices, the official WordPress App and the Blogpress App. Using the WordPress web interface via Mobile Safari is also usable, but clunky so I haven’t really considered it.
UPDATE 25 Sep 2011: The WordPress iOS app has been updated . A number of my beefs with the WordPress for iOS app have been fixed!
Both WordPress and Blogpress
- Titles, tags, photos.
- Very easy to use.
- Don’t background save posts if you jump over to Safari for more than (a short time) … an annoying lesson I learned when I’d written about 60% of this post on Ancible.com on both … and both lost the unsaved draft.
- It’s obvious how you set the Category for your post.
- When you start writing www or http, WordPress asks if you’re writing a link and pops up an easy-entry dialogue box.
- To safe a post as an online draft you change the status of the post to Draft via the settings (even before the post has been published). I found this counter-intuitive as I was looking for a “save as online draft” option, but it does make sense if you think of the WordPress app as a front-end to your WordPress site – the WordPress web interface marks posts as drafts, review or published.
- The writing screen works better for me. It jumps out of the admin type screen and floats in the centre of the iPad, above the full screen iPad keyboard. It’s clearly a writing environment.
- Allows Contributors and Authors to post … WordPress can only be used by Administrators and Editors (see the official WordPress explanation of the different types of access to WordPress sites.
- You can set the Category and Tags for your post, but it’s not obvious – you need to click the “i” at the end of the “Title” to open the Category/Tag options.
- Has a nifty HTML feature. This makes it easy to insert links and do some basic text formatting. More powerful than WordPress.
- Has direct upload and publication of videos from within the app. This is achieved via YouTube – you enter your YouTube login details and then Blogpress uploads your video from the iPad or iPhone to YouTube and inserts a link in your post. Simple.
- We’ve had a few issues with posts not appearing when we’ve selected “publish”. For some reason Blogpress has scheduled these posts for future publication rather than immediately publication. Don’t know why. The future-ness varies. Fix has been to change the publication date using the WordPress app or WordPress web interface via Safari.
- Blogpress has crashed a few times, but only after I’ve saved the post. Re-opening Blogpress has restored the session without loss.
And the Winner Is …
… a convoluted workflow!
For blog posts such as this one I:
- start the post in WordPress, setting the title and category. Write as much as I can in WordPress.
- save the post as an online draft and re-open it in Blogpress.
- write the rest of the post in Blogpress, with regular saves as ‘local draft’ and occasional saves as ‘online drafts’. I do most formatting and media inserting from Blogpress.
- publish the post from Blogpress.
- finally, I check the post on the site and if necessary, make edits using the web version of WordPress (using Safari).
For a quick photo and text using the iPhone … WordPress. Here’s an example.
The kids do their posts using Blogpress.
I then use WordPress to set the category after they’ve made the post. Now that I’ve worked out how to set Categories from within Blogpress the kids posts are completed from within Blogpress.
I wish it was easier. If you know of a better solution, please let me know!