The folks at WordPress have been improving their iOS app constantly over the past year, with the latest major update bringing a massively changed UI, which made maintaining a WordPress blog on an iOS device much easier. However, the publishing tools available within the app are still somewhat sub-standard, and lack the full functionality necessary to ditch a proper computer for an iOS device. Developer Tom Witkin has created an alternative to the official WordPress app called Poster, which streamlines the publishing experience.
Signing in to WordPress is incredibly easy to start. Simply entering in your WordPress blog details will log you in, and you are ready to post. Poster includes support for multiple blogs, each of which can be selected from the left sidebar in the main interface.
Poster features a minimalistic interface, whereby almost everything is a shade of white. There aren’t any awkward textures here, and the basic color palate allows for focus to be placed on the writing.
The post editor is the major aspect of the app, and is incredibly fully featured. The main interface consists of top and bottom rows, while the rest of the screen is used for post editing.
There are four key icons in the top column, allowing access to a variety of editing tools. The first is the font menu, which is similar to that seen in Apple’s iBooks application. These options do now have an effect on the final published product, but on the style the editor takes. There are a variety of fonts to use, both serif and sans-serif, to account to user’s preferences. Font size and screen brightness are also adjustable through here, making it evident that typing posts within the app is a major priority of Poster. I no longer feel the need to type a post in iA Writer, and then copy and paste it to a publishing app. Poster does both of these incredibly well.
The second icon is for previewing. Unlike the traditional WordPress editor, it will not preview a post on the actual site, but in a basic layout. The interface of the WordPress site being published on is not visible, only a minimalistic version of what the post will look like. This view is mainly used to iron out any formatting issues that might occur during writing.
The third icon is the image inserter, which allows for easy importing of media. Images can be taken from the iOS device’s library, or even from Dropbox. From there, the size of the image can be altered, as well as its alignment, and whether or not it is a featured image.
The fourth icon opens the post details menu, which allows for more in depth editing of the article. This includes anything from the article’s name to which category it is placed in.
These four icons allow for detailed editing to be done outside of the main writing interface. This makes the editor much less bloated than other applications, notably the official WordPress app.
In the bottom row, main formatting options are found, in the form of small icons that execute a small amount of code. These are used as shortcuts, and are completely optional if you know the necessary code. This is where Poster differentiates most from the official WordPress application. There is no WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editing in Poster, it uses either HTML or Markdown.
This is either a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on what you are used to. Fortunately, if you are only used to the WYSIWYG method, Poster can help you learn Markdown. The icons on the bottom row will simply execute a piece of code, which will do most of the work for you. IF you use Poster often enough, the syntax will become familiar, and then these icons will be superfluous, and writing will be much quicker.
Poster also includes access to the popular cloud storage service Dropbox. With this integration, users can import files straight from their Dropbox folder, utilizing the cloud service that many use. Although cloud integration could be taken to a better level. If other cloud services, such as Google Drive, Box and SkyDrive were integrated, it would give more options to those not using Dropbox. In addition to this, being able to add images to posts through these cloud services would also be welcome, as the current method may require users to save a photo to their library, and then import it, which is cumbersome.
While Poster allows for editing and publishing to WordPress blogs, it will not replace the functionality of the official WordPress app. There is no option for viewing of stats and no moderating of comments. This will all have to be done through another application. This means that poster is not a fully-fledged replacement for the WordPress app, but more an advanced post editor. There is however, still use for it. Where the WordPress app is lacking, Poster picks up the slack, with its fully featured editor.
Posting to WordPress from an iPad or iPhone is by no means as advanced as doing so through a computer, but Poster acts as a great substitute. The editor is good enough to rival those such as iA Writer and Byword. Markdown and HTML compatibility add much more to the experience, and allow users to more effectively write articles. Poster isn’t a WordPress management app as it is a text editor with publishing capabilities. The editor is at the core of the experience, and allows users to focus on what is most important, writing. For anyone who posts to WordPress often using an iOS device, Poster is a must have application.