The Wednesday morning before last, I was excited to see that WordPress released an official iPhone application to the world.
I instantly downloaded it, and added several of my WordPress blogs to the app. Aside from the annoying Twitter Tools glitch (which sent an empty tweet on blog setup), I was surprised to see some big omissions that would impede regular usage for site administrators… at least from my standpoint.
- Dashboard functions
As readers here know, I don’t post every day. I do, however, very regularly check my WordPress Dashboard. The Dashboard wraps up basic stats, such as the five most recent comments, incoming links, number of new unapproved comments, and WordPress news for the package itself (and 3rd-party plugins).
I find this data invaluable to know if there’s anything I need to take action on (such as marking a new comment as ‘approved’ or ‘spam’) or learning about a security exploit.
- Global Drafts
The second-most popular task for me in WordPress is creating and editing a draft post on the server. It generally takes me several revisions before I post a “post” here. (This one, for instance, has taken 10+ edits over 1.5 weeks.)
Unfortunately, though, the iPhone WordPress app only can edit and save local drafts (i.e. those on the iPhone itself). This is probably the biggest deal-breaker for me. I don’t want to write and edit on my iPhone, as the keyboard is so awkward. I would, however, as it makes it convenient to drop in a quick edit or two, or get started on a new idea. But, preferably, I’d take a full, non-finger-crippling, physical keyboard experience over the on-screen, cramped digital keyboard. Because of this, I wouldn’t now dream of starting a post on the iPhone knowing I couldn’t switch back to the desktop keyboard later.
Maybe one day Apple will allow Bluetooth keyboards to pair with the iPhone. (Maybe even starting with their own keyboards, in fact!) Until then, this app will just serve as a monitoring and quick editing environment.
- Links (add, remove, order)
The iPhone has a number of built-in controls and UI elements for creating and managing lists. WordPress, too, has great built-in support for Links which populate a blog’s Blogroll section. Why not blend the best of both worlds? List management for your blog using the iPhone’s easy list management UI features? It sounds delightful.
- Widget addition, order, removal
Similar to Link management, the ability to re-order, customize, and enable/disable Widgets for WordPress. Honestly, re-ordering widgets using the WordPress Web-based manager is rather awkward… having used the iPhone’s list control UI before, I imagine I’d prefer handling all Widget activity on the iPhone altogether.
- Plugin control and updates
Plugins are well-known to cause performance issues for some WP blogs, and occasionally they can cause sites to come to a screeching halt. Being able to toggle a plugin on and off remotely would allow site administrators to quickly re-enable a site simply by flipping a plugin off (and/or back on). Further, WordPress now allows most plugins to be updated (when updates are offered) via the Web interface. As such, being able to click a couple links to bring all your plugins up-to-date would be very useful.
- Run backups
The thing about backups is: you never think to backup your files till its too late… why not just offer the “Save to server” and “Email backup” options (sans “Download to your computer” due to limited iPhone storage opportunities)?
Last but not least, the WordPress Stats plugin has become invaluable to me. I’m a big fan of Google Analytics (who significantly raised the bar on visualizing web usage data several years ago), but there are few times that I head over to the Google site to check out how my blog is doing. The WordPress Stats plugin gives me my most basic visualizations (such as visitors over time, top posts, top searches, and most active) right on the Dashboard. It’s not a 3rd-party plugin, as its made by Automattic (the folks behind WP itself and Akismet), so no (legal) reason not to include in this package.
I know the plugin currently uses Flash to render its chart, but I’d happily deal with a static, cached PNG or GIF if that got me some level of site monitoring via the app.
Please, don’t get me wrong. I understand I’m looking at a 1.0 release, not a 2.x or 3.x version. Many of the features I’m describing are fine to release after supporting basic posting functionality. Further, the app is free… which means the good folks at Automattic dropped at least a benjamin simply to offer freeloaders (like myself and all other WordPress user) a means of managing our blogs on the go. (So, to the good folks developing this app, “thank you.”)
Automattic has been kind enough to provide a list of upcoming bug fixes and features for the app. I didn’t see any of my ideas already listed there, but don’t doubt that as time passes, the app will become considerably more usable.
What features of the app do you find missing? And/or invaluable while on the go?
Update: Daniel Jalkut, author of MarsEdit, kindly offered a solution to the issue of Global Drafts, which ended up serving as a great workaround. (Thanks, Daniel! Anyone else know how to solve the remaining open 6 features?)