It’s not often that I get to write a review about an app as I’m using it. Actually, that never happens. But, today I’m using a new blogging app called Posts for the iPad.
As you may already know from the marking at the end of every 1 of my blogs, I am a steadfast user of Blogsy for writing & publishing my blogs (I don’t own a computer, only an iPad). In fact, I have forgotten how to blog using WordPress’ own app or the browser. I would be lost if I had to post a blog that way. Blogsy has been the only way I’ve done my blog since soon after I began. (Here’s my review of Blogsy from last year).
I have an excellent relationship with the Blogsy developers & really have few complaints about the app as a whole. But, as always, there are a few things on my wish list that are not in Blogsy. Some things I didn’t even know I wanted until today.
Yesterday, Posts went FREE temporarily (as of right now, the $10 app is still FREE). It was on my AppShopper Social Wish List, along with about a billion other apps. This is the 1st sale that Posts has had. So, I grabbed it up & had time to play with it immediately.
I have to say, I am awed, stunned & completely impressed! I still love Blogsy, but Posts may be my new essential tool for blogging.
Enough about me & my tale. Let’s get to reviewing Posts!
Posts is made by Apple Design Award-winning developer Pico & it’s easy to see how design is central to their philosophy in Posts.
The app is laid out with mini-pages instead of a list-view of past posts. The mini-pages are organized by date, making it extremely easy to find past posts. If for some reason you can’t find a post, you can always search by keyword & look on a little calendar where every day you’ve posted is highlighted with a dot.
A note about the keyword searching, which has been on my wish list for Blogsy for some time: Posts’ internal search engine is so sophisticated I am swooning. Usually, if I search the word Blogsy online on my blog, every single post comes up because it is tagged on the end of every post. Posts’ search engine somehow found my Blogsy review in an instant with just the word “Blogsy” as my search criteria. No idea how it does that, but I’m in LOVE!
Posts supports the WordPress (self-hosted or hosted by WordPress) & Blogger platforms. You can even manage multiple blogs in Posts all from 1 centralized spot. With just a glance, you’ll know everything you need to know about all of your blogs.
If you don’t already have a blog, you can start 1 in Posts, too.
In the settings (gear icon), you can set up 2nd or 3rd, etc. blogs, decide how many posts you want the app to sync with, pick your sync mode & see how much storage space the app is taking up. This is where you would delete a blog account, as well.
The devil is in the details in Posts. I like that you can even choose the color of the little labels on the corner of the mini-pages & the dots on the calendar.
Besides keeping track of all your past posts, drafts, Pages & submissions, Posts lets you manage comments right from within the app!
Posts keeps track of all your unread comments with a badge to let you know just how many that is. You can approve, trash, or mark as spam any comment. Plus, you can reply to comments & even see the post being commented on in seconds by pressing the eye icon (upper, right corner).
Tip: You can even see how many comments you have on each post with red badges at the bottom of the mini-pages for each post that has a comment.
This little bonus feature of Posts really pushed my in-loveness factor over the edge. Managing comments in the Safari browser on the iPad is just undoable for WordPress. It takes forever, if it gets done at all. That means moving to the WordPress app to manage comments, which is all I use the app for. Posts’ comment management makes all of that unnecessary & makes Posts all that much more essential to me.
But, let’s get to the writing of posts, which is really what a blogging app is all about.
Writing a blog post in Posts (which I’m doing right now) is dreamy. It actually feels just like using a word processor. You don’t have to worry about HTML (unless you want to). And, you can pull in photos & lay out your post just like it will look when it gets published.
Tip: To get to the editing view of a previously published post, just click the pencil icon (upper, right side).
In fact, you can even do a live preview (at right) of how your post will look by pressing that eye icon again. That takes you to a web view of your post even while you’re writing it. No more publishing & then catching mistakes in text & photos. You can do a preview & see exactly where everything will be placed when you publish.
This is amazing for the anal-retentive (and ex-copy editors, like myself). With the preview, you can see if paragraphs are dangling in an ugly way under photos or if that reference you make to a photo at right really is to the right of the text.
When you’re done looking at the preview, just hit the back button to go back to writing. It literally takes seconds. I’ve gone back & forth between the 2 like 20 times already!
Formatting your text is simple. There are the quick buttons at the top of the screen to bold, italicize, center, etc., your text, or you can press the Font style button to get a pop-up menu with more options.
From the pop-up, you can change the style of the text (headings, body text, etc.), choose a font & change the size & color of your text. There is even a button to remove all formatting if you change your mind after doing a lot of changes.
Tip: There is, of course, an Undo button in the top, left corner that has multiple numbers of undos.
The button to embed a link in text is also at the top of the screen (looks like chain links). It also brings up a little pop-up menu where you paste the link in or (wait for it) search your past posts for a page to link to! I do so many links to past posts that this feature will save me an immense amount of time! The pop-up is also where you choose whether the link opens in a new tab & what text pops up when people hover over the link.
Tip: If you get a link in Safari & open up Posts, when you highlight some text, it will actually offer to paste the link in for you, which is extremely cool!
The last 2 buttons at the top of the screen let you add a page break (where it says “Read more” & then provides a link) & a button to indent or outdent the text for pull-out quotes. (Outdent is something Blogsy is missing. If you set a pull-out quote & change your mind in Blogsy, you’re kind of screwed).
The other big thing, of course, when writing posts is inserting photos. Photo management in Posts is phenomenal!
All you do to pull in a photo is place your cursor where you want the photo to appear & hit the photo button (top, right corner). This brings up a pop-up menu for your Photo Library that you’re probably familiar with.
But, that little pop-up does something else amazing.
It’s a mini-browser! You can switch from Media to URL & enter any web address for an image or video or enter an address for a Flickr, Vimeo, or YouTube image or video & that’s what will appear in your post!
(Sorry about all the exclamation marks, but I’m excited) You can even preview the image or video in the pop-up before you insert it.
Once an image is on the page, you can resize it by dragging the corners, just like in Pages, or you can open the image Inspector by tapping the image & choosing it (or click the little “i” in the bottom, left corner of the image). If you do drag from the corners, make sure you keep the aspect ratio because Posts does not keep it when you change the size this way.
The image inspector lets you set a specific size, choose the way text wraps around the image & write a cutline.
Now, the really, really, really cool thing for me that Posts can do, but Blogsy cannot, is run photos side-by-side.
Due to the fact that Blogsy supports so many blogging platforms & some do not allow side-by-side photos, you can’t place photos next to each other in Blogsy.
In Posts, you can! After 1 photo is in place, just place your cursor in the same place & pull in another photo. You just have to make sure that you size the photos with enough space for each other. Otherwise, they won’t run next to each other.
Once you are done writing & formatting (or before you start, whichever you choose), you can open the Post Properties settings (the “i” next to the photos icon in the top, right corner). This is where you set the title, slug & excerpt for your post, choose which tags & categories to put it in, set the post format, make it a sticky post & decide if you want to allow comments & pings. This is also where you choose if it is a draft & whether to make it public or private.
Tip: If, for some reason, you need to look at the HTML of the a post before posting, just click the HTML button from the editing screen (top, right corner).
To publish a post, just click Done. A pop-up menu will give you several options, including Publish (or Update if the post is already published). You can save drafts locally or online, which is very cool.
Now, after all this good, you might think that making the decision to change to Posts is already made. But, there are a few negatives in all this goodness.
I think my biggest annoyance is that when writing, you can only go about 1 sentence-space down under what you’re writing & as you write, you have to keep moving the screen up. It doesn’t give you much room to write & you’re constantly having to move the screen to see what you’re writing.
Another thing I noticed is that there are a few times when there are some inconsistencies in the writing process. For instance, when I started writing this post, all the paragraphs looked like they had no space in-between them. But, when I closed the app & reopened it, this ccorrected itself. Also, at times, when I brought in a photo, there would be an enormous amount of space underneath a photo. All I had to do to fix this was delete the photo & bring it in again.
The last little annoyance is that when writing, you cannot scroll through a blog easily because every time you touch a photo, it stops you & starts to bring up the pop-up menu.
These 3 things, though, are really quite small & so easily fixed that I am tempted just to overlook them & move on over to Posts.
UPDATE: Now that I’ve posted, I want to add that there is no space added around photos when you place them to the right or left of text & Posts does not support cutlines in WordPress, apparently.
Really, the one thing I’d miss a great deal in switching from Blogsy to Posts is a word count. If a word count exists in Posts, I can’t find it. In case you hadn’t noticed, I write a lot! So, I like to keep track of how long I’ve gone in case I’ve gone completely bonkers & need to stop.
I plan to contact the developers with my few concerns, keep using Posts for now to see how it goes & I guess the decision will make itself.
UPDATE: Contacted the developer, who seems very nice, & was told that all of these issues are planning to be addressed in future updates.
However you feel about your current blogging method, if you have an iPad, you just have to try Posts right now. It’s FREE! What do you have to lose?
That’s it for me today. Until later, …