Disclaimer! This post has been completely written, edited and published on an iPad.
The hype for the new iPad 3 (just named iPad now) has been huge. Now that it’s finally out, hopefully it will be soon in our hands as soon as it will be available. I own an iPad 2 and I’m not going to upgrade soon. Money issues
But I thought that it would be a good post to write about how you can be a blogger without touching your laptop and just by using an iPad.
If you want to publish your articles to a blog, you need to do three basic tasks:
- Write / Edit
On an iPad, these three tasks can be very simple to perform, while having fun doing them! It seems impossible to have fun while editing an article, but bear with me and you’ll soon know what I’m talking about
Research – An iPad is the researcher’s best friend!
While there are lots of ways to take notes and gather material for your article, the iPad lets you do this very important step with ease. Here are a couple of them:
1. Pen and paper
Yes. No, you’re not dreaming. Yes, I’m actually talking about taking a pen and write.
Didn’t this post supposed to be about only the iPad?
Yes, but we are smart people. We use the iPad to find information and paper to gather and summarize it. The way to do it is very straightforward: take a notepad (better if Moleskine), take a pen, stick them near your iPad and open an app to start gathering resources.
The Booqpad cover for the iPad does this job very cleverly and handsomely, although very expensively!
2. Document Management Apps
Let’s talk apps!
Who wants to write on paper anymore??? (I do…)
There are plenty of apps that you can use to gather material from the web. I’m focusing on just two. They are ubiquitous, easy to use and easy to integrate in any workflow you might already have.
They are Evernote and Instapaper
You probably already know them.
Evernote is used by everyone and their dog’s grandmother. You can store text, images, web pages, videos and more very easily. You can tag the material, organize it in folders and notebooks and then retrieve it by just copying and pasting in your writing app.
Putting content in Evernote is very easy and straightforward when you are set up correctly. Unfortunately, on the iPad we don’t have the very handy clipping service available on the Mac and pc, so we need to gear up and set our browsers accordingly. This two scenarios will cover 90% of your clipping needs.
- If you use Safari, you should install an Evernote bookmarklet. Here are three ways to do it.
- You can find the “export to Evernote” option in all major reading and browsing applications;
- if everything above fails, you can use your Evernote email address. Every app can send an email with the content you’re reading, so you can send an email to Evernote and it will add it to your notebook with the tags you choose. You need to learn how to assign tags and notebooks on the email subject line, so here’s a tutorial on how to do that.
Instapaper works quite the same way. But in my opinion it’s just useful for articles you found online. Just install the Instapaper bookmarklet on Safari and you’re ready to go.
Just be sure, when you finished gathering material through Instapaper, to move the articles you saved on a dedicated folder. So you won’t mix them with your other readings for the day.
Why did you choose this two apps? There are more on the AppStore and just useful as them.
I chose them because of a key feature of theirs: they are ubiquitous! Thanks to the power of the cloud, you can sync them on the fly and access them from any device. Pretty self-explanatory
Writing – So easy now on the iPad!
When the iPad came out in 2010, everybody was wondering if it could have been an effective content creation machine. Many people had doubts about it, but thinking about nowadays, we have all the tools we need for doing the task at hand:
Byword is a minimalist writing app based on the Markdown syntax for writing on the web. Markdown let us create plain text files and with the use of a very simple syntax, we can format our text, add link and images, create lists and then automatically export everything in a clean HTML format that is recognized by WordPress.
The app for the iPad has been released this week and I’m using it to write and edit this post. You can download it here.
Yes, you’ll need to learn a little bit about Markdown, but the time spent learning it will be gained when writing your next article. You’ll be amazed on how faster you can become writing and styling your posts and publish them in a clean and beautiful way.
2. Siri Dictation
And finally you can integrate this app with Siri Dictation. This is a new feature that comes with the new iPad and lets you dictate your text in any app, as long as you have a keyboard available.
This feature can be quite handy if you’re not comfortable typing in the virtual keyboard and its transcription is precise too. I just don’t feel comfortable saying always “Comma, full stop, quote…”, so the time gained by dictating could be lost with the more editing required.
You can integrate your research material within Byword by copying and pasting it from the other apps you are using by swiping with 4 fingers to the left. Copy, swipe again, paste. Edit. Write. Sign. Done!
Once you’re finished with your article, you can then preview it in Byword, then copy the HTML code from the settings panel.
Publish – I hope you’re using WordPress
Because you need it if you don’t. Not just for its awesome features like plugins and incredible SEO integration, but for the great usability of it’s dashboard on the iPad.
Yes, there is an app for WordPress that lets you manage a lot of blogs from just one place, but it’s not very convenient. It has several bugs, you risk loosing your content, you can’t edit your post, it’s not a stable app.
But the web dashboard is great. It fits Safari’s window, you can zoom in and use it as you would on the desktop.
From here, you can create a new post, switch to the HTML editor, paste the HTML code you copied from Byword and edit all the settings you would normally do when publishing from your laptop.
You now have a wonderful, well researched article, published on your blog, completely written on the iPad.
Now, would I continue using the iPad as a blog posting and managing machine?
The tools for writing and researching are top notch, but the management of the blog, the publishing part and the refinement of the post is too cumbersome and slow that it will take more time and effort than doing it from a computer.
Until we’ll see a MarsEdit app or a revised and more useful WordPress app, the management part is the bottleneck of this workflow.
If you found this post useful, write it in the comments! You can also tell me if you already have a publishing workflow on the iPad and how it is structured.
Have a good one!