WordPressing on the iPad in Iraq

in Blog

A friend of mine, a career soldier, was sent to Iraq late last year. When he is not doing his job he likes to relax and work on his e-zine about the thing he loves the most; playing RPG type games. Before he deployed he got a new Apple iPad. With the advent of WordPress for iOS he was excited to continue his blogging from the front lines.

As it turns out, his dream of doing this 100% from the iPad is not quite working. There are two major stumbling blocks he is encountering. The first is that he is on WordPress.com and not using a WordPress.org site. See a previous article here at WPMods.com to find out what the differences are if you aren’t familiar. One difference is that you can’t pick and choose from the more than 13,000 plugins available and there is no FTP access.

I asked my friend what he uses for creating his blog on the iPad. Here is what he had to say.

The maps were created directly in ArtStudio, text was typed in Pages, PDF was created using Pages, and even this blog post was created using the WordPress app for iPad

The biggest issue, then, is getting the PDFs up onto the site. He can send them via email. He can’t get them on the posts without connecting to a PC. He finds this really frustrating as he like the mobility of the iPad. If he wasn’t on WordPress.com he would have FTP access to WordPress and there are a number of iOS apps he could use. Also, if you already know Safari is on the iPad – it can’t access the files for up load. Let me explain.

Every app in iOS is sandboxed. What this means is that there are walls up where the apps can’t see the allocated data area in the file system of other apps. ArtStudio can’t share data with WordPress for iOS but it can email the art. Some system level resources can be shared, such as the Camera Roll which holds the photos, but not every app has access to that.

We discussed his using DropBox. The problem is getting the files to it. The iPad was designed as a consumption device, not a productivity tool. Now with other tablets coming out and potentially heavy competition from Motorola’s Xoom perhaps Apple will see the light and make it easier to push files generated on the iPad to a public area where other apps can share them. DropBox doesn’t have a native function where files can be emailed to it.

Another iOS app is GoodReader which can get files from your emails and move them but with a lack of FTP access he still misses by the last mile. However, if you are a WordPress.org blogger and would like to blog from the iPad GoodReader is a great app to facilitate getting any file added to your site. It allows you to easily read a large number of important document formats and it has several file transport features. You can literally set up your FTP server and email server in the server pane, find your attachment in email and send to your FTP.

The moral of the story is: Go with WordPress.org and wait for competition to get Apple to change access patterns on the iPad. I probably don’t need to say it but this should also work for the iPhone even though, in my opinion, is a sub-optimal platform for blogging and content creation. Still, good in a pinch.