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TECHNOLOGY REVIEW: Blogsy for iPad

April 15, 2011

Let me start of by saying, I’m writing this post on a computer… an actual PC machine with a real keyboard, on the WordPress site.  Why?  Because it’s simply the easiest and best way to do it when we’re talking about working with pre-formatted blogging tools.  But… remember this post from yesterday?  That was written, formatted and uploaded using the Blogsy app on my iPad.

I love my iPad and use it for countless tasks, both professional and personal.  There are some limitations to it, and while I’m not here to discuss the iPad, per se, some of the usability issues which are inherent to the iPad, seem to plague Blogsy as well.  That said…

Blogsy is far and away, the best blogging app on the market for the iPad.  I’ve tried most apps out there, including the actual WordPress app, which is passable, but fails in many areas where Blogsy succeeds.

I opted to write the post from yesterday in Blogsy because it included a number of different formatting variables which I wanted to test out.  I’m fairly particular about formatting and was curious how this new tool would handle it.  It contains an image in the upper left, with the text wrapping around it, some links, a quoted section and some bullet points.  And when all is said and done, as a viewer, I wager you would never be able to tell that it was not created on a PC with the full WordPress interface.

One note… I’m sure I’m not going to cover every aspect of this app, and encourage you to watch the plethora of how-to videos available on the Blogsy site.  They really provide a good idea of the handling of the product and found my assessment in line with what was being presented.

APP OVERVIEW:

Despite all it does, the Blogsy app is very clean looking.  It allows you a lot of screen real estate to get your content onto the window, and when you need one of the ancillary functions, it neatly slides into view from the right.  More on this below…

The important thing to notice is there are two “modes”.  A Rich Text format (or “Visual” as WordPress calls it), and HTML.  You do ALL of your editing of text in the HTML mode, then swipe across the page with your finger and it will flip the page and show you what it will look like to your reader.

Across the top, you have all of your standard formatting tools which are fairly self explanatory.  These can be implemented from both the Rich Text page and the HTML page.  I ended up applying the bullets in my post in the HTML side of things and only found out at the end I could do it on the Rich Text page and see immediately what it looked like.

Getting back to the tools on the right side of the frame.  It is here that you can do a variety of things really in quite a simple way.  You can navigate to a webpage and drag the URL (and thus the link) into your post, linking your selected text – even opting to “open in new window” — this is the kind of details most apps leave out.  Boo them… Yay Blogsy.  You can also drag YouTube Videos and photos from your Flickr account over into the post as well.  Both can be placed anywhere by just dragging to your desired locations (novel idea, huh… odd most apps don’t do that) and you can select to resize and format in various way.

When all is said and done… you flip back to the Rich Text page and decide if you like what you see:

Post in HTML Format

Post in Rich Text Format

If you’re done editing, you progress into another area that I am a stickler for… Categories and Tags (and other data of the meta variety).

If you click the gear icon in the upper left corner, you can add, apply or unapply various settings.  For me Categories and Tags are big.  I was able to see all of my settings from my WordPress blog.  [Note:  Syncing with my blog on WordPress was fairly painless… so painless that I neglected to mention it until now.  So… yeah… painless.]  In this menu you can also allow or disallow comments and other various options.  Again… this is the sort of detail that I find a lot of iPad apps leave out.  They sort of take whatever the masses agree are the most popular setting, and force you to use them.

Once all is set… you press the Publish button and you’re done.

WHAT WORKED:

  • The interface is fantastic.  There is plenty of real estate to edit the test of your post.  More so than I even get on my PC interface for WordPress.  The ancillary tools are a single press away, but do not infringe upon your space to work.
  • The method in which you can add images, video and links is very well thought out.  From placement to sizing to the options such as “open in a new window”, you can do just about anything you need to.
  • Intuitive!  I love it when a program thinks like I do.  That’s not to say it will think like you do… but for me.  I expect to find options where I expect to find them (not sure that made much sense… but I’m going with it).  And each option was exactly where I expected it to be.
  • Rich Text vs. HTML – Being able to see what it is you’re going to post, in the format in which it will be posted is big.  There is no guess work.  But if you want to make manual HTML modifications… it’s right there for you to do.

WHAT CAN BE IMPROVED:

  • The folks at Blogsy are very up front about one key feature being missing — the ability to upload pictures from the library on your iPad to your post.  But they say it’s coming and I have no reason to doubt them.
  • Edit in Rich Text – I do wish I could edit the text in Rich Text mode.  When I had dropped in all the bullets and quotes in the post I created using the tool, and then had to edit content, navigating around the HTML code to change a simple typo was a little but frustrating.
  • Undo — I don’t know if there is the required engine on an iPad to have an undo function… but it’d be nice.  I inadvertently deleted some HTML code and had to go back and manually type it in.  I know about as much about HTML as I do about defusing a nuclear weapon, so… there was a lot of guess work.
  • Other blog options:  I use WordPress — so I was fine.  I know Blogger is supported as well.  But there may be other blogging options which would be useful.
  • SmugMug:  I have a Flickr account (which is covered here), but primarily use my SmugMug account for professional things.  I’d love to see that included as well.

WHAT CAN’T BE IMPROVED:

  • It’s an iPad — it’s not a lap top with an external mouse.  Everything takes a little extra effort.  I have big fingers — and you know what they say about a guy with big fingers… that’s right: “Highlighting on an iPad sucks!”  There is a lot of that in this program.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

If you’re on your computer at work/home/studio/library/etc… use the programs provided to you in your browser or on your desktop.  But if you are going to be writing blog posts from anywhere else… this is your answer.  I can say without a doubt that there is no better option.  There was a lot of time spent catering to the small details, while never losing site of the main purpose of writing.

POST SCRIPT:

When I sent out a tweet stating that I was going to be writing this review, the folks (or folk… person, whatever) at Blogsy responded right away and thanked me for doing a review.  They had no idea whether it was going to be a good review or a bad review… but they were attentive and they were listening to their users — this is a great trait in a software company.  I can’t say whether or not they will be there if you want to complain about some aspect of the program, but for me, the fact that in just a few minutes I got a response from them was reassuring.

RATING:

4 stars out of 5 – for now.  But I don’t think it will take much improvement to push this up to a perfect program.

Blogsy for iPad (via iTunes)

[tweetmeme source=”topical_optical” only_single=false http://www.URL.com%5D

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One comment

  1. Hello, I’m Lance, one of the guys behind Blogsy.

    Thanks for the review. I find it to be very detailed and fair.

    I just want to say that we will continue to improve Blogsy (but shouldn’t that be the case for every app?). Our first major upgrade is to build uploading into it but we have a voting page where people can suggest what we should focus on after that. http://www.blogsyapp.com/about Of course, we will have some bug fixes or minor feature changes along the way as users point issues out to us.

    Thanks again,
    Lance



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