• Wordpress for iPad Review

    <img style="float: right;" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/login1.jpg" border="0" alt="Wordpress for iOS" width="200" height="160" /><a href="http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/wordpress/id335703880?mt=8">Wordpress for iOS</a> has been around for <a href="http://www.tuaw.com/2008/07/22/first-look-wordpress/">a few years now</a>, but it has recently undergone a significant overhaul, including on-the-fly video recording for the iPhone app &amp; iPad support. If you're blogging with Wordpress, this is a free app which works with either a Wordpress.com blog, or your own hosted Wordpress install.

    For those who don't know, our friendly MacTalk website actually runs on a tailored version of Wordpress. I've always wanted a way to write my MacTalk posts out and about on the iPad, and the web editor in Wordpress is sadly lacking a touch-friendly version, so I thought I'd take the chance and have a go at the iPad version. Let's take a look.


    <h2>What's nice</h2>
    It's a really well thought-out app, and it has a very nice, Mail-like split-pane interface. I linked it up to the MacTalk blog, and I was presented with the following:

    <img style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/articles.jpg" border="0" alt="photo-2.jpg" width="590" height="472" />

    Overall, I'm very happy with the way this app has followed Apple-like conventions on the iPad. Split-pane interface, landscape &amp; portrait orientation, pop-over modal dialogues; they all behave in way you'd expect. This is an app that has not tried to reinvent the operation of a text-heavy application, and I appreciate that. Also, it just looks nice.

    From here, you can manage Comments, Posts &amp; Pages. A slight hiccup here though; tapping on 'Pages' when linked up to the MacTalk blog actually crashes the app completely. This is probably related to the specific setup of the MacTalk blog, but still. Crashing ain't good.

    One of the things I really liked about this app was the myriad of options you got once you started a new post, or edited an existing post.

    <img style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/options.jpg" border="0" alt="photo.jpg" width="590" height="472" />

    From left to right across the bottom, you can select Write, Comments, Media, Preview or Settings. I honestly didn't think they could take on so many options within this app, but to their credit, they have. Once you've selected a post, tapping on an article's text brings up the full keyboard, and you can start bashing away.

    You can also create a post title, select tags, categories &amp; the status of the article. The status is one particularly important; all of our posts are originally created as drafts &amp; eventually sent live, so that one is a biggie for my particular use of this app.

    All the other areas are pretty self-explanatory, and about what you'd expect. The comments section allows you to view &amp; moderate all comments. Preview allows you to see what the post will look like before you commit to publishing it.
    <h2>What's not so nice</h2>
    OK, so if you've gotten this far, you may have gotten a fairly favourable impression of this app so far. Here's the truth; I don't really like it. Why don't I like it? It's all the little things. It's like they've applied polish in a bunch of places, and then completely forgotten about others. The diversity of features seems to have lead to a lot of them being shipped out half-baked.

    For starters, there's a media manager contained in the app, which allows you to manage images &amp; video in a post. Sounds good, right? Well, it's great until you take a landscape screenshot, and then need to rotate it. Because you can't. And then the app crashes when you try to delete it.

    Oh, and crashes? I hope you like composing half a post, and then having the app crash on you &amp; losing it all, because this app crashes all the freaking time. Here's the thing as well, as soon as an app like this does that to me, I lose <em>confidence</em> in it. I start saving every 5 words, and I'm constantly paranoid that I'm going to lose all my work. This kind of app should have stability &amp; reliability at it's core, and at this stage <a href="http://ios.forums.wordpress.org/topic/new-release-buggy-on-ipad">it clearly doesn't</a>.

    Other disappointing parts of this app:
    <ul>
    <li>When writing, the text clips at the end of the screen, and you can't see what you've written properly. It only goes away when the post is saved, which is annoying because you're constantly jumping in and out of edit mode to fix your text.</li>
    <li>When you add an image to a post, it's pretty much a lucky dip as to where it ends up in your post. I hope you like text selection in iOS, because you'll be doing a lot of it to move those image tags around.</li>
    <li>On the topic of tags, writing even simple tags is an extremely frustrating task. For example, to write a [h2] opening &amp; closing tag in this post, I had to change my keyboard from one symbol keyboard layout to another <strong>10</strong> times. I was hoping that there was some neat UI trick (drag &amp; drop tag palette maybe?) that allows inserting simple tags into your post; apparently that's not the case.</li>
    <li>The 'save' and 'publish' buttons are worryingly close together up in the top right-hand corner. I very nearly hit publish straight after adding my title... and as cool as an empty titled post is, (very avant-garde, very post-modern), it might not be as accessible as my earlier work. I don't want to alienate my audience so early in my blogging career.</li>
    </ul>
    <h2>Wrap up</h2>
    I really wanted to compose this entire post in the Wordpress app, but in the end I just couldn't do it -- I went back to <a href="http://www.red-sweater.com/marsedit/">MarsEdit</a> on my Mac. It's a very ambitious release, and I really like the way they've approached the app from a UI &amp; conceptual perspective. I think for shorter-form, less media-dependent posts, this could be a good option. However, it's really the app crashing that gets to me; as a writing tool this needs to be a lot more dependable &amp; less buggy before it can can be truly recommended as a good way to update your blog on the go.

    <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/wordpress/id335703880?mt=8">Wordpress for iOS</a> is a free app available for both iPhone &amp; iPad in the App Store.
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