Blogging on the iPad: How to use BlogPress

The iPad is more than just a media consumption device. In this tutorial, CNET shows you how to blog on the iPad using the BlogPress app.

If you and your significant other have agreed to leave behind your respective laptops to avoid the temptation of keeping up with work while on vacation, there's still the chance that an iPad could find its way into your travel bag. After all, few people can claim the iPad as a productivity machine. The leisurely pursuits it affords--browsing the Web; reading books, newspapers, and magazines; playing games; and viewing and taking photos and videos--make it an excellent travel companion.

But let's say you'd like to update your blog a few times while on vacation, in order to share your thoughts, photos, or videos from your trip around the world or to the Jersey shore. There are a few iPad apps that will let you do that. In this tutorial, we'll look at one of the more popular choices, BlogPress.

First, spend $2.99 to download BlogPress from the app store.

After it installs, open it and you'll see a list of blogging platforms. After choosing your desired platform, you will then enter your account information to access your blog. For this tutorial, we linked to Google's Blogger service.

Select your blog platform from the list. Matt Elliott/CNET

Navigate to the Settings screen by tapping on the gear icon in the lower-left corner of the Manage window. From there, you can link to a Picasa or a Flickr album to save your photos, or you can use a public BlogPress album by default. You can also link BlogPress to your YouTube account for adding videos. When you select a video from the iPad's camera roll to embed in a blog post, BlogPress will upload it to YouTube when you publish your post. You can also link your posts to your Facebook or Twitter accounts to alert your friends and followers of a blog update.

From the settings page, you can link to your YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. Matt Elliott/CNET

To create a blog post, tap the Manage button, and then the icon in the in the lower-right corner of the Manage window. You can also edit live posts, as well as online and local drafts. BlogPress also allows you to pivot into landscape mode and a larger keyboard, a useful option for longer posts.

You can edit posts and create new posts from the Manage window. Matt Elliott/CNET

There is a very basic HTML editor for helping format your post, and next to the button for it is a small button for adding photos or videos. You can add them from your iPad's camera roll or you can snap a picture or take a video right there on the spot to add to your post.

Using the Blogger platform in BlogPress, a basic HTML editor lets you add some formatting to your posts. Matt Elliott/CNET

Once a picture is embedded, tap on it to adjust its properties. You can adjust its alignment and size. Do note that the changes you make to the image are not reflected in the BlogPress editing pane. You'll need to publish to see how your resizing or alignment changes look. (There is also a Save and Preview option, but it doesn't always accurately portray the size and alignment of images and videos.)

You can adjust the size and alignment of images and embedded YouTube videos, but your results may vary. Matt Elliott/CNET

While BlogPress has a clean and simple interface, it can be a bit buggy. For example, I ran into some trouble resizing images and videos. In some instances, my changes wouldn't take, leaving either width or height at 0, resulting in a broken image or video. When the Proportion slider is set to on, it's supposed to keep width and height in sync with each other as you adjust one or the other, but it would sometimes change the one dimension to 0 when I adjusted the other. I had to turn Proportion off and make the calculations myself to adjust the size of images. Better yet, I learned to leave the dimensions of images and videos unchanged and chose a centered alignment to prevent awkward text wrapping along the sides of images and videos.

When you are ready, you can hit the Publish button to push your post live. Matt Elliott/CNET

I also unexpectedly lost a local draft when publishing, which made editing difficult. I had published the same post a number of times, as I tested out various features of BlogPress. Each time, my local draft remained, which I could return to in order make additional changes. Then, after another time republishing the post--poof!--the local draft disappeared. I was able to resave a local draft of the post, but it listed the HTML for an embedded video instead of the editable icon, which made making further tweaks to it more of a challenge. I found editing online drafts and live posts with video difficult for the same reason; the HTML is presented in the editing pane instead of editable icons.

Aside from some resizing snafus, BlogPress is a very serviceable blogging platform for the iPad. Using Blogger through BlogPress offers nearly the same functionality as the Web client. You lose some formatting options such as text alignment and numbered or bulleted lists. No deal breakers there. Also, there isn't a spell check, though misspelled or unrecognized words are underlined in red, so you can correct or ignore them as you go.

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