I haven’t written many blog entries from my iPad, and the main reason is that inserting links and rich content like images and video embeds can be really, really annoying on the tablet. No HTML editor for the iPad nailed it when it comes to offering an interface and a set of tools that allow bloggers to rely on the device as their main blogging machine; and especially if you write for blogs with several articles every day and you need to keep up at a fast pace, wasting time trying iPad apps is impossible. But I believe also those folks that post status updates and journal entries on their personal blogs must have noticed the iPad is far from being an ideal mobile blogging device, and the lack of dedicated apps is worrying. Sure, there are plenty of iOS text editors out there, even with advanced HTML and Markdown formatting capabilities; for bloggers like me, though, that is not enough. Either with WordPress, Movable Type, Drupal or a custom CMS you might be using on your blog, there are usually a lot of writing and management options to consider that most apps don’t support. The official WordPress app doesn’t even accept custom fields and many, many other things that millions of bloggers rely on every day. The situation is almost unacceptable, and I really don’t understand why — with more than 15 million iPads out there — someone hasn’t set out to create the ultimate iOS blogging app. I really don’t. Yet we keep hoping.
In the meantime, here’s a (rather pricey) alternative you can try out to write HTML-formatted posts on your iPad. I wouldn’t recommend dPad if it wasn’t for two features that really impressed me: first off, the popover in the toolbar that lets you easily insert HTML tags in the main article. As you write and you realize you need a specific heading or a blockquote, you can hit the popover’s button and quickly choose from a selection of the most popular (and used) HTML tags. Tap on one, it gets inserted into the text with the cursor automatically placed between the opening and closing tags. It’s really smart and convenient, and I like it.
The second feature is the most important one of dPad and the one that defines it as a great tool for bloggers: put simply, it makes it easy to insert links, pictures and video embeds from the web. Like Flickr and Youtube embeds, links to other articles, and so forth. It’s really good and can be activated with a simple tap on one of the icons in the left sidebar. So say you need to embed a Youtube video but you hate being forced to open a new page in Safari, copy the code, come back to the WordPress writing UI and (likely) see it vanish because of lack of RAM, dPad has you covered: select Youtube, find the video, hit the arrow. Choose a video size and boom — the embed code is automatically pasted into the article. You didn’t need to leave the app and open Safari. Your writing flow was only (partially) interrupted. Same applies for Flickr, Twitter and any other link that you want to insert.
Still, dPad isn’t a WordPress nerd’s dream come true. The app’s got a live web view but won’t let you publish directly to your blog; it can’t pull old entries from your website’s installation; it’s got no management or syncing options for creating multiple articles in a single window. And like I said, at 7 bucks in the App Store it all might sound a little too pricey for the average wanna-be iPad blogger. I have to admit though, the ideas that I see in this app haven’t been implemented by another dev, and I look forward to future updates for dPad. With more functionalities and direct blog integration, it could become the app we’re waiting for.