The past couple of weekends (this one included) I have been working on using the iPad Pro to help with blog posts. Sketching diagrams and using them to illustrate my posts where I don’t have a screen shot, or I’m tackling something conceptual.
I’m using hosted WordPress, so naturally I tried using the WordPress IOS application as well. It seems to work fine for editing, but the current version (5.7) on the App Store is just lousy for uploading images. Lousy as in pretty broken, actually: It hung repeatably when uploading images, such that I had to do the IOS equivalent of “force quit” (double-tap the home button and swipe up and away at the application) to get back to being able to use it for editing.
For sketching diagrams I’m tending to Paper right now. I tend to write in my diagrams just like I do in a paper notebook, and Concepts doesn’t handle that well. Procreate seems brutal overkill in (awesome) painting technology for the equivalent of a dry erase marker diagram on a whiteboard. I tried OmniGraffle, but had not used it in a while and ran face first into the older OmniGraffle just not working on IOS9 (and the iPad Pro). At some point I need to spring for OmniGraffle 2 and give that a shot for technical diagrams: less sketching, more placing, organizing and labelling blocks and arrows.
The real stumbling block is getting data from one application to another. For example, the image out of the Paper or a URL from the App Store. Frankly, it’s a complete pain in the butt.
In Paper, you leave off drawing/sketching/editing and use the button for “share to”. Right now, I’m sharing to the Photos, load up Photos and then crop the image down. Once that’s done, I upload the photo – the WordPress IOS app is non-functional for me in that respect – so I use the web interface to wordpress through Safari.
In my ideal world, I’d have something that I could select from Paper – a portion of the image, and a button or gesture to indicate I wanted to share it somewhere else – in my case to WordPress where I’d like the include the diagram with my editing.
The other real pain point is getting URLs for referencing in the blog. For example, the “copy link” share from the App Store doesn’t actually copy a link, it gives you a whole damn text stanza that includes a URL. If I want to grab a URL from Safari, I have to open it up, go to the page, tap on the address bar, select the text, and then choose to copy it. That’s a 5-6 gesture sequence to get the URL from a browser, along with pauses while waiting for text to select in the address bar.
My whole experience matches up with the commentary from Joanna Stern and John Gruber on the recent Talk Show episode – multitasking just isn’t quite there compared to a laptop, or at least not easily. Working within a single application is pretty great, but going from one to another, or using two together (like WordPress side by side with Paper) isn’t nearly as effective as it is on a Mac laptop. The good news is these stumbling points are “just software”, and software evolves pretty rapidly. It will be interesting to see what Apple evolves in the coming releases for IOS.
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