Blogging on the iPad

55 Comments

Prior to the launch of the iPad (s aapl) bloggers started thinking about how convenient the slate might be for sharing information. Some even believed the iPad would make such an impact on the process that it would change blogging for the better. While it’s certainly true the iPad makes interacting with the web easy, and something that can be done almost anytime, it’s still not clear how useful it can be for the actual process of blogging. The fog is clearing, however, and some bloggers are using the iPad to handle most of the blogging process. I would never want to use the iPad as my only blogging tool, but I admit I am finding it far more useful for the task than I thought it would be. With some careful thought and best practices, blogging can indeed be done on the iPad.

I would never recommend bloggers to dump whatever computer they are using for blogging — that would be silly. Where I do see advantage to using the iPad for blogging is on short trips, or during outings when a computer is normally not carried for the day. The iPad is easy to travel with, and the tool that is with the blogger is better than any tool that is not. The muse can strike at the most unexpected times, and if the iPad is at hand it’s the right tool for the job.

The first obstacle that must be crossed to do serious blogging on the iPad is the lack of blog editors in the App Store. At last check the WordPress app is the only one that has been released for the iPad. Since we use WordPress on the GigaOM Network, this works to my advantage. Those with blogs on other platforms will have to do some experimenting to determine how best to create posts on the iPad without a specific editor.

Most blog platforms have web-based editors, and it’s worth trying in the Safari browser on the iPad to see if yours will work. We have many special widgets at GigaOM that makes our WordPress online editor a very useful tool, and some of these widgets will not work in the iPad browser. If a given editor doesn’t work in the browser, then post creation becomes a two-part process — writing and posting.

Of course, writing can be done in any text editor, and there are a few for the iPad. The Pages app from Apple works fine for writing blog posts; writing blog posts can even be done in the Notes app. The trick is writing the post and then pasting the content into the final destination. I can’t address every possible situation that one might face, so I’ll concentrate on how I blog using the iPad.

The WordPress app for the iPad is pretty good, and I usually write the entire blog post in this editor. It’s important to note that there is no fancy visual editor (WYSIWYG) like in the web-based version. It’s a simple text editor that works well for text entry. It’s also a HTML editor, so those familiar with HTML can use it to make posts with sophisticated formatting. I’m too far removed from the old HTML blogging days, so I avoid it. I simply use the WordPress app for writing the text content of the blog post. The photo handling capability of this app is not very sophisticated, so I avoid using it for that purpose.

TIP: The WordPress app is great for following comments left on the blog, so don’t overlook that ability. Even if you don’t write blog posts using the app you might find it useful for working with blog comments.

Writing blog posts in the WordPress editor using the iPad’s on-screen keyboard is more efficient than I dreamed possible. I expected this keyboard to be good for knocking off a very short email, but not for writing blog posts consisting of hundreds of words. What I’ve discovered is with a little practice it’s easier to type on the screen than you might think; it’s certainly a viable method in a pinch. For much longer posts I use an external Bluetooth keyboard. It folds up and fits in my pocket, yet opens into a full-sized keyboard. I don’t absolutely need it for writing on the iPad, but I’m no glutton for punishment. I have the tool so I use it when it makes more sense.

Having written a blog post in the WordPress app, when done I publish it as a draft to the blog. This brings it into the WordPress online system for the final editing — adding links, images and implementing the special widget controls we use on the site. The next time I log into the web-based editor the post will be waiting in draft mode for this work.

It may seem that my iPad work with the blog post is over at this point; if that were true, then full blogging couldn’t be done on the iPad in my case. This is where it gets really fun — I fire up LogMeIn Ignition on the iPad, and log into either a Mac or Windows PC in my home office. I leave at least one of them running for this purpose, with the LogMeIn server running in the background.

Using this method, I am in effect working with my Mac (for example) on the iPad, using the slate display as the Mac’s monitor. More importantly, since LogMeIn is optimized for interaction via touch on the iPad, I am able to do anything I normally do on the Mac (or Windows PC) by touching the screen. I use this method to start the Firefox browser, and enter the web-based WordPress editor on the home machine.

I have the “full” browsing experience this way, and the final post editing process is just as it would be in the office, but using touch on the iPad. I add any links I need; upload, grab and edit any images for the post; and enable any of the special GigaOM widgets needed for the particular post. There is hardly any lag and it’s amazing how well this method works. It turns the iPad into a full Mac or Windows system, with no limits. This is why my method is working so well for me.

Clever readers will ask why I don’t just log into the home machine and write the post in the browser, rather than create the draft using the iPad local app. That’s a fair question and the proper answer is I could easily do that. But as well as the LogMeIn method works, when I am concentrating on the post writing process itself, I prefer the distraction-free environment of the local editor. It’s strictly personal preference, but there’s no reason doing it all through the remote connection wouldn’t work. I have done it that way, as a matter of fact, and still prefer to do it in two steps.

I must make it clear that this method works for me as I already have everything in place to make it work. I have multiple computers in the home office, so it’s no burden (financial or otherwise) to have one available for remote access. I already owned LogMeIn on the iPad ($29.99), so I didn’t have to spend the money just for blogging. This may not be the case for you, and I am not recommending you spend a lot of money to do this.

This method is working so well for me that I could easily employ it for short trips without impacting my ability to work. I don’t intend to do that, but I could if I needed to. That’s a liberating thought.

Disclosure: Automattic, maker of WordPress.com, is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

Related content on GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

Hot Topic: Apple’s iPad

55 Comments

Tom

I’ve been using a program called Zentap for about three months now, being disabled I didn’t really like to type. To type something long like a email just didn’t appeal to me, now an email or any document is no problem.

Archeris

Loving writing on the iPad version. Only had the device a week but it’s a sweet piece of kit.

Riley

Great post mate. I myself am using an iPad 3G to do my blogging now. I am a bit frustrated that the WordPress app has such a limited editor, but it works for what I need to do. I am sure they app will become more robust over time.

I tell ya what I would really like to see, the web admin interface be more compatible with the Safari browser on the iPad. That would simple be the best of both worlds.

Ken

I tried pairing my Stowaway Sierra keyboard with my iPad and couldn’t get it to respond to the pairing ID, any tips?

Lloyd

Why do people insist on turning every Ipad article into a Ipad vs netbook discussion? We got your opinion after the first hundred times you said it…

tom

I just got my Ipad thanks to the info published in the review, however I was looking for internet service to connect on the road to and I wanted to go with Verizon sorry AT&T but Verizon has coverage everywhere, I found a great deal for Verizon and its even called Verizon49, I got my data card and service from http://3gstore.com/lease Here is the kicker 3gstore.com offered me the data service with no contract no credit checks, and on the Verizon Wireless Network for $49.99 that is lower than buying from Verizon itself, It’s one of the lowest price out in the market and now I am able to connect, Oh yeah….

Alex

Haha, I use my iTouch for some quick drafts sometimes, since I always try to add a visual to my posts. The wordpress app is great. :D

dlfuller

“…I use an external Bluetooth keyboard. It folds up and fits in my pocket, yet opens into a full-sized keyboard.”

What keyboard is it? And, do you have any problems with special keys?

Thanks for the post.

BlueKnight

Ok so to clear a few things up for people.

First you can not use the built in wordpress web editor. This editor just does not work. You can use the HTML editor but it requires you knowing HTML for tag editing.

The current bloging apps for iPad are totaly useless. For example in the wordpress app when you put in an image it is on the bottom of the posting. It does upload pictures as you can not use the word press editor to upload images. What you really need is an HTML visual editor and then simply paste things in to the blog editor.

So where does the iPad shine? Let’s see.. Power, space, costs. Let me explain

Power, it really does last a long time. At star bucks seats or tables can now be used anywhere not just next to an outlet. I do get 10 hours with it, using wifi all the time.
Size, I am on planes a lot and you can use the iPad even in tight spaces where the table would not allow for use of a regular notebook and where the net book would be tight if someone reclines.
Cost – This is interesting as the iPad is in the class of a PDA for all wireless services. For example boingo roaming service is $8 a month for worldwide use instead of $25 for laptop or netbook. On airplanes the gogo in flight wireless service is $25 per month or $10 per flight. iPad is $14 a month.

We need some people to fix the apps or write a newone and it becomes really useful.

thenikjones

3 interesting points ^^^. The advantage of a netbook in (2) is stability, though, as the iPad/keyboard dock won’t be as secure as on a netbook.

James Kendrick

“Most blog platforms have web-based editors, and it’s worth trying in the Safari browser on the iPad to see if yours will work. We have many special widgets at GigaOM that makes our WordPress online editor a very useful tool, and some of these widgets will not work in the iPad browser. If a given editor doesn’t work in the browser, then post creation becomes a two-part process — writing and posting.”

Etrigan

Is there any reason you don;t just go to wordpress.com or wherever your site is hosted using the web prowser on the iPad and use the full WordPress application? Why restrict yourself to the wordpress app and its limitations? I can understand doing so on a iPhone because of the smal screen, but on the iPad, you have a bigger screen.

John Federico

I’ve tried writing two posts using my iPad – one using the WordPress app and the other using BlogPress ($2.99). But before I go any further, I want to make the distinction between Blogging and Writing.

To my mind, blogging is: writing, embedding links, selecting similar posts, editing and inserting images and finally, posting.

With that said, I’m not happy with blogging on the iPad.

Even simply submitting a post without an image turned out poorly as both WordPress and Blogpress borked something as simple as link syntax, arbitrarily deciding to change ampersands in URL’s to their HTML equivalent.

I’m hoping these apps will become more full-featured and that others will enter the market.

Until then, I’ll stick to Writing on my iPad using either Pages or the built-in Notes application, then submit it later – or use the LogMeIn solution that you’ve described.

-jf.

http://magicaltablet.com

LPinthelose

Luscious, you’re a m0r0n. STFU and read the first sentence in the 2nd paragraph of this man’s blog post. When you’re done reading, continue to STFU.

Who cares if you’re using a stupid USB N-whatever piece of crap dangling off the side of your netbook. A majority of tech junkies in the 21st century have things called a MiFi or an Overdrive they use on the go.

Luscious

Well if you love your iPad James then I’m not going to argue with you, but it does seem that your work is very limited in scope if the iPad fits the bill for you.

You’ve done a good article explaining how the iPad helped in your work. It’s fine to make a point though that your work may not mirror somebody else’s, or that there are other ways of getting that work done.

Consider for a moment all the accessories (keyboard, display prop, SD reader) Apple has to offer to improve the device, and how much folks will pay for them. Going further, can you justify purchasing additional filler-apps for the iPad that do nothing but attempt to give functionality that comes standard with a netbook?

I’m not making any argument to fit my conclusion at all James, but as good as you make the iPad sound, I see the shortcomings of the device repeatedly – you’re resorted to using other tools and gadgets to get something done. Perhaps you are making the argument that the iPad is ideal for blogging on WordPress using the WordPress app, rather than blogging in general. May I suggest reworking the title? :)

I know that you will take these comments in the spirit intended.

BTW: I’m using a Netgear WNDA3100 dual-band wireless-N USB adapter in my netbook for optimum range and signal. Guess those USB ports can come in handy…

gmazin

The more posts James makes about the iPad the more useless it seems…

Luscious

I’ll tell you what’s really funny. The on-screen keyboard on the silly thing doesn’t even have cursor keys.

Cursor keys – functions essential for even the most basic typing, editing and spreadsheet tasks.

Apple’s solution – you have to “touch” with your sausage finger where you want your cursor to go. Well I tried, at least half-a-dozen times in fact, and could not get the cursor to go where I wanted. Good luck with that when you’re looking for single-character accuracy and speed in your work.

The learning curve needed to just do simple tasks, the cost of the device/apps/accessories just to get it to do normal things, the lack of connectivity options, the total reliance on third-party solutions that still fail to impress – and I’m being told that this is a serious work tool?

I’m done listening to all the hype on this site. The iPad is nothing but a luxury toy, and anybody who says otherwise needs to make an appointment with their shrink.

S

The whole reason everyone loves touch computing is to get rid of things like cursor keys. Although I do not own an iPad, I have used one for making a spreadsheet. From my experiences, I can confidently say that I never felt that the lack of cursor keys was a major deficiency. (BTW, that was the largest problem you could find with the iPad?)

Now, was it as productive as a netbook? Probably not. The iPad cannot, yet, replace a laptop. But it comes damn close in many areas and easily surpasses it in others.

When I used the iPad it was a far easier learning curve that learning Windows 7 was.

Reliance on third-party solutions? You mean like Microsoft excel? And your “Netgear WNDA3100 dual-band wireless-N USB adapter in my netbook for optimum range and signal”?

With regards to your last paragraph, read paragraph 2 of the article. Then read it again.

And finally, I think that Shrinks around the country are going to be very overworked if people follow your advice.

Zeuxidamas

(sigh) I almost hate to wade into this with my own opinion. Maybe the question is not about having to choose between a netbook or an iPad, which seems to be what a large chunk of the world has been focused on. I am guessing jkk does not have to make that choice. Neither do I, and I reckon a chunk of others also do not. There is little question that a Netbook is a convenient and useful device. Despite the comment during the exchange above, the original article was not about saying that the iPad is better platform for blogging than a Netbook; it was a simple commentary that the iPad can be used for blogging. He even discussed recommendations to not dump your primary blogging PC, so that would count netbooks if it applies. He makes it clear that it is an alternative for when you might not want to carry a computer, and that doing it right takes “careful thought and best practices”. I’ve used many of the same cautionary advisories when discussing the use of UMPCs and TabletPCs. It is not that they are “better” than regular laptops. It is that they can be applied for certain scenarios, with a good deal of forethought and planning. They are better for some applications, not better for some others.

And some of the limitations that were experienced on the iPad were only because of the blogging engine in use. I know that I was able to access my blog HTML engine fine on my 1st gen iPhone. I rarely draft in my blog engine anyway, preferring to blog in a local editor and then copy and paste, email, or log in and post afterwards.

There is plenty of space for the iPad amongst other computing devices and CEDs, if it fits the user. There are plenty of things I would rather do on an iPad than a netbook, like watch video, or read an eBook. I cannot use a netbook standing up in the kitchen or jotting down the random project or writing thoughts that are in my head when I am getting ready for work in the morning. The iPad and the other forthcoming tablets are as much about form factor and physical usability in given situations. It is not always a matter of either or. A lot of the arguments against the iPad are the same ones that have been leveraged against TabletPCs and UMPCs by the people who do not want to use the slate form-factor. Some of us are ok with it, and some of us do not mind carrying a portable keyboard. If I want to carry and use a netbook for a specific purpose, I’ll take a netbook; but I do not have to.

A lot of the technorati need to decouple the arguments that are relevant when discussing what advice to give someone who is choosing between an iPad and a netbook, and the discussions where we are simply discussing scenarios in which the device can be used.

There are some scenarios where my Acer Timeline or my MacBook Pro are the best tools. But there are others where my Fujitsu U820 is fine. There were times when my NEC MobilePro 770 or 880, which did not run full Windows OS’, were all I needed. The same is true of the iPad.

Use a netbook if you want to, but there is no point in taking someone who has used a lot of variants of mobile tech to task because they choose to use an iPad for a given scenario. I am not even planning on buying an iPad (the Archos 7 HT pre-orders for $200 changed my mind on that), but I am tired of this argument always being a binary one where the choice has to be a 1 or a 0. If you can only buy one device or only want to buy one device, then it is relevant argument to have. But when it is a discussion of selecting one device amongst several available in one’s mobile inventory for a given scenario, arguing against the option selected seems like just a matter of expressing anti-Apple fan boism, which is just as valueless as its opposite.
– Vr/Z..>>

Luscious

I might have missed something, but how did you get the image from the camera you used into the blog post? Ah, let me guess – you used a smartphone to zap the image to the cloud.

If you need to do that, and do a remote desktop to finish the job, then I’d have to say using the iPad to blog is, in one simple word, cumbersome. Hardly attractive or revolutionary.

I’ll stick with a netbook for blogging – far more comfortable and productive, not to mention easier to take along.

Luscious

OK. What I would do is simply zap the image file to my netbook over BT and edit it directly, or if I’m shooting a lot of images with a real camera just insert the SD card.

S

Netbook is three pounds. iPad is half that.

I have a netbook and I do not carry it around with me most of the time. If I had an iPad, I could see myself carrying in around a bunch more due to its lighter weight, instant-on capabilities, and ease of use while standing up.

That said, I am not a blogger.

Khürt L Williams

James, Lusciosu just gave you a new improved workflow. Assuming you took the photo on a modern cell phone that has microSD you can use the iPad Camera Connection Kit.

The most likely is currently or soon will be an app that will transfer photos to the iPad from a cellphone via bluetooth.

Who know maybe Eye-Fi will release an app that wirelessly transfer image via ad-hoc wi-fi.

Khürt L Williams

@LUSCIOUS “stick with a netbook for blogging”. Do the rest of us have your permission to use our tool of choice? Can you promise to stop coming here and telling us why our chosen products are “cumbersome” and yours are better?

Scott Weidig

@gareth i can’t really agree with you. Netbook kb’s are often cramped at best maybe 92-93% of a full kb at most. The boot time of a netbook can be close to a min even on win 7 or Linux even from sleep ( as opposed instant on for the iPad) Nb’s do have expandability over the iPad but not too much more. Also the ones priced much less than the iPad have even more deficiencies… You might want to read other professional bloggers reviews of blogging on the iPad like http://i.tuaw.com/2010/04/22/what-almost-three-weeks-with-an-ipad-has-taught-this-blogger/ before you claim hype.

Luscious

You’re missing a few things there in your argument.

Netbook keyboards are hardly cramped, especially the good keyboards like the Toshiba NB305 and HP 5102, that do actually give you real tactile feedback without impeding your typing speed/comfort. Boot time is a non-issue as well, since I can wake the NB305 from sleep in under two seconds, and unlike the iPad, I have hundreds of gigabytes of storage locally without the need to use a cloud app.

You think netbooks have deficiencies? My NB305 that I’m posting this on now has three USB ports and an SD card slot – items that do nothing but help boost productivity and functionality. If anything – it’s the lack of these items on the iPad that is the deficiency.

And finally, unlike the iPad, I don’t make compromises by loosing the functionality of a full computer, I’m not using apps that are limited in features, nor do I need to carry a separate keyboard to punch out longer jobs in comfort.

It comes down to using the right tools for the task, period. Blogging? Netbook 1 – iPad 0

James Kendrick

USB ports, SD slot– never once needed them on the iPad.

Functionality of full computer– the iPad is optimized to not need that for my work.

Keyboard– as I stated, I don’t need an external keyboard.

You’re making the arguments to suit your conclusion. Me, I have used countless netbooks AND the iPad. I find the iPad better to use for just about everything. Real world, hands-on experience talking.

thenikjones

James, I find your articles very interesting but I’m surprised you cab’t see the advantage of having USB ports or an SD slot. One common theme is the kludge of getting files on/off the iPad – Sugarsync and Dopbox seem very clumsy, and some environments [such as my company network] block such services so an iPad would be useless for me – a netbook, though, is perfect as I can use a USB card instead.

Khürt L Williams

Here we go with the über nerds telling everyone else what to do again.

“Hey you, I’m a nerd. I know more about computers than you. I’m telling you, everyone should do what I do because I know better”.

Scott Weidig

James,

Even though it has not been optimized for the iPad yet, you might want to look into iBlogger. I have been using it for a week or so on the iPhone and have been quite impressed by it’s capabilities and features. For full disclosure, I am not affiliated with iBlogger or illuminex in any way. I am just impressed with their product. For an idea of of some of it’s abilities here is a review I wrote on it: http://www.scottweidig.com/2010/04/do-you-mobile-blog-can-you-hyperlink.html

Cheers,

Scott

Gareth Whiteside

I don’t see why you would want to blog on an iPad. Why are people saying the iPad is revolutionary? It’s not. You can do all this and more on a netbook and maybe a lot cheaper and with a comfortable keyboard.

Are you seriously going to pull an iPad out in a cafe and set-up a back-stand and keyboard to update a blog when you can just pull a netbook out of the bag and start typing?

All this iPad hype is created bt Apple Fan Bois and I find it pathetic to be honest.

Mark Nassal

Good article James. I also found the iPad to be a very useful tool for blogging. The WordPress App does provide some obvious benefits. Unfortunately, Copy and Past is not working in the WordPress App. How it made it though testing without anyone noticing is beyond me.

mnassal
Stress Free Productivity
sfp101.com

Dave H

It just seems odd to claim that the iPad is good for blogging when it’s actually your desktop that’s good for blogging and your iPad that’s just an interface to it.

You can do anything on the iPad if you include “connecting to another machine that ACTUALLY does it”.

Paolo

I dunno man, that setup is just not very apple-y :)

That keyboard – ugh – the seams! And the sprint thing – so large. The apple keyboard and the mifi are much more Cupertino approved. Your comfort be damned!

:)

Raymond Padilla

It sounds great, but what about editing images to accompany posts or original photos if you’re blogging at an event. At the moment, WordPress for BlackBerry or iPhone seems more useful.

Mickey Segal

LogMeIn seems like a good way to run Flash and Java on the iPad. Maybe there will be a market for virtual machines you can use on the Web to get around the limitations of the iPad.

James – see if you can run Hexic on the iPad using LogMeIn. It would be funny to walk into an Apple store showing off the iPad form factor and battery life with TabletPC applications.

davezatz

Without multitasking (until fall), a better photo editor, and an updated WordPress app, it’s not going to happen for me. I’d already own an iPad if I could effectively blog on it (in a way that’s comfortable and productive for me).

Jason

I’d settle for tabs in Safari first. Multitasking will make it easier to write in one app and read in another.

I think come OS4, we’ll see a lot more people jumping in.

Can you blog on the iPad now? You bet. But we need to keep striving more towards ease of use verses just “it can do that.”

Richard - @makakman

I’ve also used the iPad successfully for blogging, I find the keyboard really easy to use although I can understand touch typers concerns. Up until now I’ve used a combination of Notes, Safari, Code Monkey and Air Sharing but might give Logmein a go. I’ve been able to increase my blogging frequency with the iPad as I tend to write away from my main machine and the iPad has helped in that respect. I’d recommend giving one a try in your local Apple store ;o)

tfserna

About the logmein server/client setup: Do you have (or have you had) any security concerns over leaving the server running at all times and accessible from the Internet?

Bests, TFS

James Kendrick

No, I use good passwords to keep them secure, plus LogMeIn monitors access attempts (failed) and will lock the account down if it detects some.

Luis Alcaraz Leal

I do use my iPhone for bloggin but only for short posts not for full reviews, but yes the iPad makes it easier. I find myself very often trying to do those pinch to zoon gestures on my pc at home but … well i just a crazy guy.

Great post.

Comments are closed.