There hasn’t been a usable blogging app for the iPad. Most of them have taken the obvious route, of offering a list of entries, and an editor. But none of them have truly tried to understand the iPad as a platform, its weaknesses when compared with the desktop, and deliver a solution that actually streamlines the process of writing articles for the web.
dPad by Kohichi Aoki, a Japanese iOS developer, claims to be an HTML editor for advanced blog entry composition. It doesn’t do much, but it does the right things. It doesn’t sync with your blog, it doesn’t pull down entries; it’s mostly just a text editor with a web view.
Let’s start with the editor part. Almost all well formatted blog entries depend on some HTML formatting for headings, blockquotes, and links, while the more heavily designed blogs will go as far as embedding divs. dPad allows you to select blocks of text and quickly wrap them with HTML tags. You can even insert ids and classes, which come with quotation marks ready for editing. Through all this you’re seeing just unformatted plaintext, with all your tags intact, so it’s probably not the best tool for someone who doesn’t understand HTML. I always use the HTML view in WordPress, so I feel right at home.
dPad also features a stunning web view. As with most articles for the web, you need to include some links or images from the web. That’s where the other tools plainly lost out to the desktop. You had to constantly switch between Safari and that app, using clunky copy paste procedures that couldn’t stand a chance to the desktop. It was worse if you composed directly in the WordPress admin, because Safari has this habit of losing cache. dPad slides out a web view panel, that’s optimised for some of the popular websites like YouTube and Flickr. What’s the optimisation? Well, when you find the YouTube video you want to embed, simply tap a button, choose the video size, and dPad will insert the embed code in your document. You can of course visit any site using the address bar, and when you want to insert the page you’re currently at, just tap the insert button and a cleanly formatted link anchor will be placed in your document.
You can then preview the HTML, which is unstyled but clearly readable. When you’re done with your entry, tap the publish button, and it will copy everything to the clipboard, and spring out a web view for whatever compose url you’ve set. dPad won’t actually interface with your blog, which I don’t think is a big deal anyway.
Is this the blogging app we’ve been waiting for? I haven’t used it long enough to be the judge of that, but it’s certainly a giant step in the right direction, breaking free from the most obvious user interfaces. It’s lacking things like multiple blog support, inserting images from the local library, and a more definitive HTML preview. The web view is also something that could use some work, enabling tabs for wider research capabilities (iPad would require more RAM for that).
Perhaps WYSIWYG is the better approach for the vast majority, and maybe users do want fuller integration with their blog. But for me, this is by far the best iPad app for publishing articles to the web — blogging. $6.99 at the App Store.