Movable Type on the iPhone

2 Comments

I don't write much on this blog, one of the reasons being lack of time. Since I spend a couple of hours a day on the train, I wondered if there was an iPhone app which would enable me to write and upload blog entries reasonably easily while on the move.

Unfortunately MT don't have an app of their own, unlike several of the competitors such as WordPress and Blogger, therefore I tried several third party alternatives and report on their effectiveness here.

BlogPress

The first app I tried was BlogPress, which claims to offer connections to most of the leading blogging software, both online and offline editing and storage, and support for draft and published entries.

Connection to my MT installation was straightforward, and it managed to find all the current entries. Unfortunately it couldn't distinguish the draft entries, and doesn't get it right when you try to upload as draft, but that isn't a show stopper since I'm happy to keep my drafts on the phone.

What let it down was a simple inability to handle newlines. I use Markdown for my editing, and BlogPress has two problems - it insists on replacing newlines with <br /> tags, and worse it compresses multiple newlines (i.e. paragraphs) into one, losing my formatting.

I've raised this as a bug with the developer, but currently it makes an otherwise decent solution unusable for me.

Oh, and it also kept claiming network issues, even on a reliable WiFi connection.

Movable Manager

I then tried Movable Manager, a MT specific application which also supports many of the additional fields specific to MT such as excerpts and keywords.

Connection to my MT installation was also straightforward, and it found all the current entries with operation being extremely fast. Unfortunately it has no concept of a draft entry, either offline or online, anything sent to the server is immediately published.

Editing is good, with the content kept exactly as you type it, perfect for Markdown although there is no preview which makes the immediate publishing a bit of a leap of faith. It also has the ability to upload photos, but a word of warning - it silently overwrites existing files of the same name!

On the whole, simpler and more reliable than BlogPress, but lack of offline editing doesn't fulfil my needs.

Nocs combination

I'd already been using Nocs as a Markdown enabled notepad to edit blog entries and other files, so I wondered if this could be used to solve my requirements.

The big advantage with Nocs is that it is designed for Markdown from the start, and it supports CSS controlled preview, so it's possible to get a reasonable approximation of what it will look like on the real blog. Unfortunately it doesn't directly connect to MT, only supporting local storage and Dropbox.

To get the entries from the phone onto the blog I added the iMT plugin to my MT installation to give me a usable control interface on the iPhone. This is a pretty good solution, although at time of writing the part handling comment management is giving an error.

Recommended Solution

At the moment my recommended solution is Nocs + iMT, with Movable Manager useful if you want to upload photos easily.

One thing about iMT is that there's no option to jump into the full web interface. If this is a problem for you then Nocs + Movable Manager may be more appropriate.

Comments

Hello! Erik from Flashforward Labs here, the creator of Movable Manager. Thanks for taking time to review it!

The reason my application and others like BlogPress don't flag drafts in the entry list or allow you to post drafts is because, well, MT doesn't natively support it. It's such a highly requested feature though, I think I'm going throw a patched Movable Type file out there that you have the option to install, and if my application detects it, I'll show if an entry is a draft or not, as well as allow you to post them. It's currently in the design/feasibility stages, but if it goes well, I hope to have this ability out there in a month or so. Do you think this is something you and other Movable Type users would mind (updating a file?) or would you prefer on-the-phone-only drafts?

And sorry for silently overriding existing files, I'll see if I can't do something about that!

Thanks again for the review!

Many thanks for the response.

Choosing between the two, I would pick local drafts. My reasoning is that local drafts are much more relevant on a portable device with variable connectivity.

If you want to test remote drafts I don't have any problem modifying my MT installation, especially if that can then be put back into the mainline development.

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