Multi Platform Blogging with BlogPress

Almost all the major blogging platforms have their own native app and most of them support multiple blogs from the same platform. But what about all the users out there using multiple platforms?

For those of us dabbling with multiple blogs across multiple platforms, we need a better solution than juggling multiple apps. BlogPress is an app that supports eight of the popular blogging platforms. Now, if you are willing to let go of $2.99 from your pocket for a carefree blogging experience, follow me after the fold.

Setting Up Blog Accounts

Blogs from eight of the prominent blogging platforms namely, Blogger, MSN Live Spaces, WordPress, Movable Type, TypePad, Live Journal, Drupal and Joomla can be managed using BlogPress. That is an impressive list which conspicuously is missing the rage of the day – Tumblr. Maybe they counted it out as a microblogging?

Selecting a Blogging Platform

Selecting a Blogging Platform

We cannot start exploring or using the app without adding a new blog account, which the prompt on launch makes abundantly clear. For this review, I chose WordPress, a platform I am comfortable with. Depending on whether a blogging platform offers self-hosting, you will be asked for a blog URL on top of the regular login credentials.

WordPress users be sure to enable XML-RPC from Setting->Writing.

Adding Albums

After adding the blog, we have the option to make it the default blog for posting articles from the Settings page that follows. If your blog carries articles with images, BlogPress offers three solutions: use your Picasa or Flickr album or store it in the BlogPress album which uploads images to its servers.

Adding a WordPress Blog & Choosing an Album

Adding a WordPress Blog & Choosing an Album

Adding the Picasa and Flickr albums follows the same simple steps of selecting the service and adding the login credentials. Once the album is added, you can use the images from there in the article directly or you can store the images you have added from the Camera roll while uploading it to the article.

Adding a Picasa Album

Adding a Picasa Album

One feature that sets BlogPress apart is the ability to add multiple images to an article. Once uploaded, you can also move the image around in the blog for perfect placement.

Blog Settings

Planning to add videos to the article? You can with BlogPress. The video is uploaded to your YouTube account. From the settings page you can specify the location from where you are publishing the article and once published you can post the link automatically to your Twitter & Facebook accounts. Like in Mail.app, you can also append a custom signature to every article you publish.

Blog Settings & Article Options

Blog Settings & Article Options

Writing an Article

The Writing interface is free of clutter and helps to avoid distractions while composing an article. It just has four sections – blogs, title, location and the writing space. Once you select the blog by tapping on Blogs, you can go ahead and give the article a title. Tapping on the title brings up the article options page from where you tag and categorize the article.

BlogPress allows you to schedule a post to be published at a later date. Even though there are fields for tags and categories, they are not supported in all blogging platforms, so be sure to read the fine print at the end of the page.

Publishing an Article & Managing Articles

Publishing an Article & Managing Articles

Now that we have added categories, let’s go back to actual writing. The app is very light when it comes to features that can enhance the article being written. Tapping on the writing area brings the image upload icon on the far right corner… and that’s pretty much it. There are no styling options, even basic features like bold, italics and underline are absent. The absence of a hyplerlinking option is a serious matter of concern in these days of inbound and outbound links.

Hitting Save lets you publish the article right away or you can save it to the drafts for further editing. Publishing an article happened pretty fast and once it’s done, you can view the article in its full glory on Mobile Safari.

All the posts composed from BlogPress, both published ones and drafts, are listed in the Manage section of the app. Tapping on them brings up the editor and swiping across them allows you to delete them from your blog.

Final Thoughts

I tried to logging into two of my self hosted WordPress blogs to no avail. I was shown an error stating that either the network is down or the password is wrong (which they weren’t). I even tried to append the blog URL with wp-admin to no avail. After a long time chasing my tail I finally remembered the XML RPC option from the WordPress control panel. If only BlogPress displayed a more relevant error message, a lot of time could have been saved. I am pretty sure this oversight will cause serious confusion among casual, non-geek bloggers.

Multiple blog management via BlogPress is a complete mess. You cannot delete the blogs from the Manage page using the edit option. Interestingly, if you have added only one blog to the app, there is no option to delete it. The only way to delete a blog is by adding another blog. Even then, you cannot delete the last blog in the list (ie. there will always be a blog that cannot be deleted from the app). Weird!

On the flip side, BlogPress has a nice feature set and handles images better than many other apps in this category. There are not a lot of multiple blog handling apps in the appstore and BlogPress definitely has a competitive edge. However, unless the developers cut short the time it takes to figure how to manage the app, even all the competitive edge in the world will be meaningless.


Summary

BlogPress is fast, easy to use, rich featured blogging App for iPhone, iPod Touch and also iPad. Now you can write your blog or travel log on the road, share new, photos and videos with your friends in real time!

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