Venting your frustration or publicising your praise on the internet has become a popular pastime for many people around the world. According to Nielsen’s BlogPulse, at the time of this writing, there are over 161 million public blogs on the internet – with over 62,000 created in just the past twenty-four hours.
That’s a huge number and I would guess that the quantity of iPad owners who are included in those figures are not a minority.
Since its original launch last year, the iPad, through its wide catalogue of applications, has moved from being seen as a purely consumption-based device to one that can be used to create original content. However, the lack of great blogging applications disappointed me, especially since the iPad is the primary tablet and is used as a mobile workstation by many.
The official WordPress application is okay, but it’s not amazing. And the alternatives aren’t that great either, even if they do come with a price tag. I don’t think it’s the iPad’s fault, I rather like the touch keyboard and have become used to it in my year of use. It’s just difficult to understand why I can’t create real, rich blog posts from my tablet…
Blogsy is a rich blogging tool that works with both self-hosted and powered WordPress and Blogger blogs. Separating it from the others Blogsy has a number of helpful features, such as the media sidebar which allows easier image and video embedding into your posts, and a super simple way to switch between formatted and HTML views.
A Quick Tour
Firstly, Blogsy has two main connected services categories: the media sidebar sites and the blogging platforms themselves. Both of these are added in the regular way within the settings panel. For the sake of this review, I logged into a test blog I set up on WordPress.com, YouTube, and Flickr.
The interface is beautifully explained right within the iTunes description itself. There are three main components to the interface of Blogsy.
- The post area, naturally, is the production area for your new post. A simple single-finger swipe to the left or right will switch the view from formatted to HTML, and vice versa.
- The top row of icons allows you to easily format in the rich view by adding styles and alignments, a glaring omission in the WordPress app.
- The sidebar (or “dock”, as it’s sometimes referred to in the app itself) allows you to browse media and place it in your post (we’ll cover this a little more later).
One can tell that Blogsy had WordPress in mind when it was in development. The pencil/cog icon allows you to switch around the title, publish date, categories and other metadata that’s synonymous with WordPress. It’s super simple and pretty self explanatory, although I’d like to note that I find this an easier way of doing things than the official WordPress app.
Editing posts in Blogsy is pretty much just as you’d expect. There are two main views: a rich editor and an HTML editor. The former allows you to actually see your formatting, whereas the latter is exactly what it says it is.
The biggest disadvantage with the rich editor is the lack of ability to edit text. Yes, you heard me right: you can’t edit text in the better editor! I see this as a massive mistake, especially since most people will prefer the formatted view over the HTML source view.
Luckily, editing in HTML is a pleasant experience. The view doesn’t change the design of the application at all, or the font, as other applications do. Where it starts to get confusing is when you have to swap back to the static rich view to select text to add a link, even if the pop-up modal box is pretty convenient. Alternatively, you can just type an anchor tag in the HTML mode if you’re so inclined.
A great feature of Blogsy is that it has a convenient media sidebar to the right, which allows faster embedding of media from Flickr, Picasa and YouTube.
By signing into these services in the settings panel, you get the option to navigate your account and pull down videos or images straight into your post. Once an image is in your post, a tap brings up the image settings where the various different parameters like size and linking can be edited. My only disappointment here is that there’s no option to add a caption or to upload images, which offers some slight dissatisfaction with the otherwise top notch app.
The two other buttons in the sidebar allow you to search Google Images or just the web. The Safari browser is primarily used for finding images on other services, but can be used just as a regular research tool while you’re working on your post, which is very useful as you don’t have to use the multitasking bar.
If you do use the in-app browser for finding images, holding down your finger on one until a yellow mascot appears will let you drag it across in your post.
The developers of Blogsy have informed us that “the next version of Blogsy should be out in the next few weeks and this will bring the ability to upload images from within Blogsy.” This is going to be a greatly appreciated update.
A Few Disappointments
As I’ve mentioned, the current inability to upload images or browse the WordPress media library is disappointing. Also, the lack of editing in the rich editor is not great, although that (and the no-show of the media library) are said to be due to restrictions in the iOS SDK and the WordPress API.
The other is that Blogsy is only available for Blogger and WordPress. I run my own site, Macintude, off the Tumblr platform and the best app for that is the official iPhone application which just isn’t useful on the big screen. Blogsy have said that they are constantly developing the app and have a Google Moderator voting page setup where users can vote on features they’d like to be prioritised in future updates.
Blogsy is a useful application and one of the best for blogging on Apple’s tablet. It has a few minor let downs and the lack of Tumblr support is a personal disappointment for me. I can’t honestly say that this is an all-in-one solution. Most of the blogs I work with require additional features like custom thumbnails, which Blogsy doesn’t support (I haven’t found and app that does).
However, if you do want to blog from your iPad, Blogsy is the application for you. It comes in fairly cheaply and it’s a great time to buy in, especially with updates coming soon. We’ll be holding a giveaway for the app soon too, with five codes to grab so watch out for that!