How to Blog on iPad effectively – advice from the trenches

Ever since I first saw the iPad, I thought it would be the perfect blogging companion.

Imagine having a full-service mobile workstation that lasts for days on a charge, weigh under two pounds WITH a keyboard, and have all the polish and possibility of an “iPhone for two hands”. A mere five years ago this kind of power (and battery life) would have been unimaginable: three years ago it would have still seemed totally unreasonable.

So I excitedly armed my iPad with everything it needed to become the ultra-blogger.


But– and I’ll be totally honest– posting with images pretty much sucked.

It wasn’t even the iPad’s fault. Really.

Aside from the iPad’s inability to use “upload” buttons on websites (something I never actually dealt with on the iPhone), the whole thing should have gone pretty smoothly: just use apps instead of websites, right? WordPress has an app, as does the perennial blogger’s favorite, Blogpress. So why did it feel like pulling teeth?

(Cr)apps

I was appalled at the irrationality of the free WordPress app. Its quality was far, far below their usual high standards. When it didn’t crash (which is a rare event in a commercial app), it would repeatedly tell me that it had “recovered a document” and asked if I wanted to view it. Sure, why not? It would then proceed to do absolutely nothing, except keep asking.

When I wrote up a post and went to add images, I could browse my photos and click “add”– but again, nothing.

FAB22DD4-A1F9-4ADF-9ABB-E0665BFF20E1iphone_photo.jpgThen there was the exciting doubling and tripling of posts, or the arbitrary publishing of half-finished drafts. At one point I hit a kind of existential moment in which I could watch my drafts duplicate themselves and post on the side while I was typing, but as soon as I went to correct this they would disappear from view. A quick check on my blog revealed that each draft had been given arbitrary categories. Awesome.

Suddenly, I remembered that Dropbox allows “public” linking to your files, meaning that I could simply import all my images from there. I grabbed myself a file link, convinced that this was the way to go– before finding that my WordPress website (at least in MobileSafari) refused to type, at all, in the “upload an image from URL” field. Strike two.

Then I remembered that one could “post by email” to a WordPress blog. I tried to do so and found that this feature was only available to hosted blogs (which live on WordPress.com). Strike three. Undaunted, I considered my options. I could try a third-party image host like photobucket– thinking that perhaps the WordPress site just doesn’t like URLs without a file extension– but that too was a failure. I couldn’t believe it: all this technology, and I can’t upload or link a single image.

In frustration, I tried Blogpress, which let me add images all I wanted, but would then crash if I tried to remove them. It also wouldn’t save anything unless explicitly told.

I found that, incredibly enough, there were no other WordPress blogging apps for the iPad. Had Blogpress cornered the market?


I went back to my laptop for about a week in the hope that when I ultimately emerged from hibernation, there would be a full-featured blogging app waiting for me somewhere.

When I tried iPad blogging again, there was an update available for Blogpress– to fix the “crash on removal of images”. Hooray! All is well. Now I can post anything I want, and it works perfectly. And while I did have to pay $2.99 for an app that is seemingly the only legitimate way to blog on the iPad, I’m proud to support the lone developer capable of improving his app.

 

What can we learn from this?


First, that it’s important to be aware of workarounds you might be able to use (like Dropbox’s public URLs, or using post-by-email). It is always good to know multiple ways to do something: it means that you have more resources if things go wrong.

Second, that the state of iPad blogging is incredibly out of sync with reality, with only a single app that works properly (and only after a major, show-stopping bug was fixed). The WordPress app is unusable and should be completely avoided until they can improve it.

Third, that web designers should test their work in MobileSafari, if only because it is the most popular mobile browser in use. The WordPress website bug should have been uncovered, and fixed, several months ago.

But fourth, and most importantly, that there is a massive untapped market for a good, solid iPad blogging app. What do you want in a mobile blogging app?

- Proudly posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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29 Comments

  1. Interesting enough, I face the same dilemma. I’ve not tried Blogpress yet because of the negative remarks I’ve heard about it, but i must admit you’ve piqued my interest. I initially bought my iPad solely for blogging from Cafe’s and the like, but the lack of a decent blogging app that could upload images directly from within the app, and format them correctly has been severely lacking.

    I too agree that the WordPress app is totally devoid of their usual quality and it was likewise a huge disappointment for me. I’m glad you found a solution that works for you. I’ll have to give Blogpress a try. Thanks for the information, and great blog.

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  3. Hi there – wow, was I glad to read that somebody else was having the same kinds of problems blogging from an iPad. We’ve just been on a trip to New England, and was so happy planning that I’d blog from the deck of some country inn with fall leaves floating by. Alas, I had times when I couldn’t even GET an image to upload. BlogPress does seem to work better than any of the other apps, but I haven’t found a workaround for the image upload size. I haven’t worked out the custom size photo part – I simply didn’t take the time to figure out the exact pixel size I really need without the photo being distorted. I thought maybe my photos had to be uploaded to Flickr, but that didn’t work either. I may be back to my mini laptop next time. I agree, the WordPress app sucks. I have paid for a couple of photo apps also, thinking they’d work. Not well enough for blogging. . .
    Carolyn T recently posted Parmesan Cheesy GritsMy Profile

    • Hi there, Carolyn!
      It’s definitely gotten a bit better — at least BlogPress doesn’t crash every five minutes now — but there’s still a lot to be desired. I think the solution is to upload your images in the desired size to another site (or to your FTP server) and then just hotlink them from there. That way WordPress doesn’t have to try making some weird arrangement mess, and your images are the size you want them to be.

      For resizing and doing corrections to photos, I use Photogene: works pretty well, but I’m sure there are other similar apps out there. Take heart– iPad blogging has improved! (though not nearly as much as I’d hoped). Rumor is that the guy behind MarsEdit (simply the best blogging app known to man, a Mac-only title) is planning to take a stab at iPad development. We can only hope!

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  4. I know I’m a computer numpty but surely in this techno age there must be a real simple way to do this…..that’s one of the reasons I bought it!
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  5. I am a blogger aficionado and use my iPad 2 for the purpose of blogging. For uploading pictures, I use Photgene and it is really awesome. However I am planning to buy the New iPad that was launched by Apple recently……

  6. Mary /

    I just bought BlogPress after reading your review and these comments. Photo problems solved. And it connects beautifully with my Blogger accounts.

  7. Hi! I would recommend Blogssy for IPad. I think is the best app for blogging.
    Evanghelos Valassidis recently posted Lealtad de las MascotasMy Profile

  8. One thing to be aware of regardless of the app you choose is you need to be careful of how it interacts with the blog provider you use. I had done an extensive blog of a trip I took to Australia using BlogPress on my iPad and MyOpera as my blog provider. Some of the “Manage” capability in BlogPress is not as clear as it should be so if you make changes or deletions bad things can happen. I thought I was making changes and deleting local copies on the iPad (which it did) and it also made the same changes and deletions to the online versions. Never to be seen again unfortunately.

  9. As i started blogging i found blogger much easier to work with thus i built my blogging network there. I have only just started working with word press recently and i have found its much better for search engine optimisation. Which blog do you prefer and which one is better to operate from an ipad. I have my word press blog linked if you would like to compare blogs thanks.
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