WordPress, meet iPad: Creating and Editing Content

The most important thing that I do on my computer is create content. And for the iPad to be a true desktop/laptop replacement I need to be able to type away with almost the same ease as I can sit at my desk. Or at least approaching the same ease – I’m not expecting perfection! There are only really two ways to add content to your WordPress page – through your browser and through WordPress for iOS. I’m going to take a look at both:

WordPress for iOS

The thing about WordPress for iOS is that it should be the best thing out there for editing posts and pages on the iPad, and in some ways it is, but only because there isn’t really any competitors. Check out some pros and cons:

Pro

The text editing area is clean, without any fluff, but it still has the buttons that you need to add images and links. It’s particularly nice when you look at it in profile view:

WordPress for iOS text area

but they keyboard is impossibly small using this layout so you’ve got to turn it to landscape anyway – all that nice cleanness gone :(

Con

The main issue with it is that there is no WYSIWYG editor. The same can be said for the browser editor and this can be annoying for people who do a lot of formatting.

Today I added a new page with some text on it. I used a list which I had to code. On a normal keyboard this wouldn’t be such a problem but here’s the process to type a closing tag such as </li>:

1st Keystroke
2nd Keystroke

3rd and 4th Keystroke

5th and 6th keystroke

7th, 8th and 9th keystrokes

10th

11th keystroke

11 keystrokes for something that normally takes 5. That’s pretty unproductive – especially since I keep forgetting which keystroke comes next. This could be solved with the use of a keyboard but if you have an iPad you don’t necessarily want to carry a keyboard everywhere. Some text editor apps do have an extended keyboard on the screen so it would be nice to see an extended keyboard on WordPress for iOS as this number of steps to write tags is not really workable. Check out the keyboard on Textastic, for example:

Textastic extended keyboard
Pro

I was getting to write a link and feeling exhausted at the thought of the number of tags I’d have to write. I typed in <a href="h , and I got this pop-up:

popup asking if I want to make a link
That is a nice touch! It made me very happy. I think the only problem with it is that, while it inserts the code for the link, it doesn’t remove the code you’ve already inserted so if you forget to remove it your link won’t work.

Con

Posts and pages only! This means if you are using custom post types you are a little bit scuppered. I am using the Woo Tumblog for posts and have these set up to replace normal posts so no problem for me but I can’t create portfolio pages, for example, which is essential for actually finishing my site.

Pro

Almost everything that you need to create a post is easily accessible in the content window. Check it out here:

writing screen with add media, links, settings and preview highlighted

Con

I don’t know if this is something anyone else has noticed. I wrote a page of content in my browser and then went to the app. The content didn’t appear there. I logged out and back and the content didn’t appear. It has showed up this morning but it was a little disconcerting when I couldn’t find content that I had just added.

Browser editing

Your web browser, whether you are using iCab or Safari, is an altogether different animal to WordPress for iOS. I created and edited a few pages with it. Here’s what I thought:

Pro

In theory you should have access to anything that you have available to you in the WordPress dashboard. This means your dashboard, stats, theme and plugin installation, widgets. And for the most part they work pretty well. On Tuesday I showed you how you can add widgets to your website and while things take a little longer it can be done.

Con

Again, no WYSIWYG editor. WordPress defaults to the HTML editors. If you are only comfortable creating content using WYSIWYG then you’re going to struggle to create content on the iPad.

Pro

Can’t think of another pro other than the one above. It really is awesome to be able to access all your WordPress stuff from your iPad.

Con

This is so annoying I might have a little cry about it. The HTML editor does not scroll. This isn’t so bad if you are typing up the first version of a post but when you come back to it to edit again you can’t scroll down. And this is made even worse by the fact that there is no arrow key on the iPad’s keyboard. You end up totally stuck. At this point editing on the browser becomes impractical. Of course, if you have a keyboard then the problem is solved but if you don’t it’s game over.

Update: It’s been pointed out to me in the comments that you can scroll in the HTML editor by using two fingers. Make sure you are in the editor, touch with the screen with two fingers and move the screen up and down. Yay!

 

Verdict

There is no perfect way to create and edit content on your pages. WordPress for iOS is fine for creating blog posts but I don’t think it’s got enough features to be a viable replacement to using your browser, and editing on the browser fails spectacularly with the lack of scroll.

Is creating your web content using only your iPad do-able? Yes, certainly. But only if you’re resigned to spending about 50% more time on everything than usual.

17 Responses

  • New Recruit

    You probably can scroll in the editor. Try a two fingered scroll. That’s how Safari on iOS distinguishes between a page scroll and scrolling within a div.

    Very interesting series of posts. As an iPad owner, I’ve found it fascinating. Never tried the full installation of WordPress on the iPad. Nice solution!

  • New Recruit

    This is great! I have tried out the two finger scroll and it works! Am pretty pleased about that. It still doesn’t get around the ridiculous number of keystroke problem but it’s definitely a start.

    @LPH I am trialing blogsy at the minute. I plan on doing a review along with an interview with the developers next week :)

  • For me, I think the lack of a proper keyboard and pointing device has relegated the iPad to second place for development. The limited UI just makes it too hard to do what I want.

    I enjoy playing with the iPad but have an iMac for development and even then I have to get used to it because I’m still most comfortable with a Windows system. I will eventually get there but the learning curve is definitely there.

  • Agree with the comments on lack of visual editor. Additionally, when I try to work on my WordPress website using any of the iOS browsers (Safari, Atomic, Opera Mini) the WordPress interface fails on all of them, albeit in different ways. Safari has the same problem, visual editor not there, but Opera and Atomic show the visual tab, just none of the “icons” for tools. And, in all three cases, you can not upload media, it’s grayed out. Would be nice if you could pull things from Dropbox, for example, and upload.

  • Thank you for this post confirming what I suspected about the inadequacies of WordPress on iOS. I installed it once, struggled to understand it, removed it in 10 minutes. A day later, I installed it .. tried to use it a bit more thinking maybe I missed a Window where surely there’s a Visual editor. Nada. I find it laughable when the WordPress suggests you don’t need to struggle with HTML when using this app – what a joke – if you don’t know HTML, your blog post will end up looking like someone who [doesn’t know] HTML because it’ll have no formatting whatsoever.

    I’m a professional photographer and travel quite a bit when I’m on assignment so when I want to keep my readers clued-in photo apps such as SnapSeed and Photogene make it so incredibly easy and friendly to edit and share photos at times when it’s more than enough to caption the pictures instead of a long-winded blog post.

    • so i have a client who wants to update his blog. but tiny mce. nothing. pretty much makes this app an uninstall.

      is there an alternative? what were they thinking releasing a product based on usability that lacks it’s core appeal? welcome to opensource. I need to check what will happen on my drupal installs with ipad/iphone/android (which i’m liking more), in a browser.

      what a kludge.

      dot.

  • I find the lack of a good WYSIWYG WP editor for the iPad astonishingly horrid. The first thing I did to review the iPad when it came out was to test its ability to write blog entries on the go. To me, this seemed like what the iPad was made for (albeit for a rather long list of benign tasks as well). I was flabbergasted to find out that not only was WP nearly useless upon the iPad’s release, but that now, well into the life of the device, no solid WP updating solution exists.

    I am left wondering why that is.

    Is WP making an effort to let iPad use horrid for some reason that I’m not aware of?
    Are they merely too busy working in the desktop version to give a rat’s ass about iPad use?
    Is the platform just lacking the APIs to hook into the iPad properly? (I doubt that seeing as they have an app that lets you post, but lacks much of the things that some may think are “just pretty bells and whistles”.)

    I truly would love the ability to compose content on my iPad. I don’t always want to lug my laptop around. Also, my laptop doesn’t necessarily have 3G access. It just seems absolutely bizarre that the ability to compose righ content on the iPad is STILL lacking in such a massive way. I would say it leaves me speechless, but I just wrote far to much to say that.

  • I have recently discovered “Blogsy” for iPad that does a very good job at create posts, uploading pictures, formatting, etc. all WYSIWYG.

    Sadly, still no decent solution on iPhone and I agree that the WP on iOS efforts are sort of laughable. Seems that all mobile apps are developped by third parties, doing their best, but in no way these apps are as good as the posterous app for example (even if that one is far from perfect too) pr Blogsy.

    I am as a result stuck in non WP land…

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