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?
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.
Then 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 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