If you like to blog, then it’s very likely that the website you publish to is powered by WordPress. It’s one of the easiest and most powerful blogging platforms out there, not to mention it’s open source with hundreds of plugins and themes. The people at WordPress know what they’re doing. It’s been over nine years since the initial release and the platform has been going strong, reportedly managing 22% of all websites as of August 2011.
So, say you’ve published a post and are off to take care of some other stuff, leaving your computer at home. Someone texts you that what you just wrote was factually incorrect or had a broken link — what do you do? If you had an iPad, then you could edit it with Blogsy, but if you only have your iPhone with you the best option is WordPress’ official iOS app. I’ve used it in instances like this before and it works well — but exactly how well?
Configuring Your Blog in WordPress
After installing WordPress for iOS, you’ll need to make sure the XML-RPC publishing protocols are enabled on your blog if you plan on setting up a self-hosted one as I did. Should you have one that’s at WordPress.com, just tap the corresponding button on the Welcome screen. To enable XML-RPC, you have the be an administrator at whatever website you’re going to set up. If you are, login to the admin dashboard and go to Settings > Writing. Find XML-RPC, click the checkbox beside it, and then “Save Changes.”
Now, just head in to WordPress and tap “Add a self-hosted WordPress blog.” Fill out the link to your blog, your username and your password. You can turn on geotagging to add location data to your posts as well — think of it like Twitter’s “Tweeted from” feature. It’s a cool thing to have, but I’m not so sure you’d actually use it very often. I didn’t, at least. Once you’re all finished, tap Save and wait for things to load.
Writing and Editing a Post
If you really need to write something or are just bored without your iPad/notebook computer on the train, this should work, but it’s not the easiest to use. Firstly, when you’re editing something on a device that has a really small display, it’d be nice to have some rich text editing so you don’t have to look at all the HTML code. It takes up most of the space in the editing screen, which is already very small by default. Also, images and other media can take up a lot of room on the screen and things sometimes get so bad that you have to scroll up and down to figure out what’s going on.
As for what the developer uses to compensate for a visual editor, it doesn’t work very well. For one thing, basic buttons like text alignment aren’t included. On top of that, the only way to see what your text will actually look like is to preview it on your blog, which takes a bit to load in the integrated browser. There’s also no way to customize the URL that your post will have, which is vital to some.
When you’re finished with a post, just tap the little eye icon to bring up its preview.
Instead of using WordPress to type your post in, I suggest simply using it to publish it. Go grab Byword, a Markdown editor, and make use of the HTML exporting tool to copy the code to your clipboard so you don’t have to type it. It also has iCloud sync and has been very stable for me in the past. This kind of combination would work far better than using WordPress as the lone editor because the official app just doesn’t work well for writing or editing a document (which is a problem since that’s kind of the point).
Media uploading is supported in WordPress for iPhone, but it does tend to make the app crash at times. One nice thing is that you can choose to upload either the small, medium or large version of the image to conserve bandwidth if you’re using 3G. You can also use a custom size, but the app won’t scale it automatically, which seems to be a bit ridiculous since not everyone knows how to scale an image size in their head.
The last major feature in WordPress for iPhone is comment moderation. If you’re not busy doing anything and need to go check if there are any new comments on your blog, you can use this tool to do so. You can also swipe over any comment to approve it, delete it, mark it as spam or even reply to it — there’s no rich text, quick shortcuts for editing, or even preview in this function. Even in light of the downsides, this is the only way (save for the website version which isn’t easy to use on a mobile phone) to moderate comments on a mobile phone, so it’s better than nothing at all.
What It’s Lacking
There are so many features the developer of this app forgot to include. Below is a short list that includes some of what I think the app should have.
- Rich text editing
- Automatically reload posts when reentering the app
- The kitchen sink in the editor
- Custom fields
- Media management and a way to use previously uploaded files
- Autocomplete for tags
- An undo button
- Featured image support
- Post format support
There are also a lot of bugs that need tending to, from Internet connection issues to crashing in the middle of writing or publishing something – the latter makes this app unusable. Also, the “View Dashboard” button in the “Edit Site” screen doesn’t work at all. I tapped it multiple times and nothing happened, even after quitting the app.
There’s no doubt that WordPress is the best free blogging platform out there, but their iPhone app sure doesn’t meet up to the standards that they have elsewhere. I can’t call it the worst app to blog with using your iPhone, but there’s no way I can call it the best. Sadly, there are literally no alternatives out there.
I’d only recommend downloading WordPress for iPhone if you absolutely need to edit something on-the-go and don’t have access to any other devices. It actually doesn’t work too bad when you’re using Byword beside it though, just make sure to save a draft in the Markdown editor before publishing in WordPress because you might lose it. But if you have an iPad, use Blogsy on that.