New palm blogging client: uBlog

Quite a while ago I wrote about Palm blogging clients. At the time, I wasn’t really happy with any of them. They all had minor problems of one kind or another, or were missing features.

They still are, but there’s a new app out there that’s showing some promise: u*blog. It’s a Japanese import and the docs aren’t very complete, but the UI is fairly intuitive. There’s a nice programmable tag function, and it will even let you set the category and time stamp of a post before posting.

The downside? It doesn’t seem to work yet, at least on my new TX. I tried to use it to post something recently, and the publish command generated a reset. However, it was a pretty large post, and the software looks very promising. More to follow, if the developer responds to my email.

Palm Blogging Clients #5

Ok, I’ve had yet more experience with these clients, and I’m finding them to be a frustrating array of products. Each has a few strengths, several weaknesses, and none are super reliable. The one client, Hblogger, that supports the large Palm screen used on the T3, T5, and Zodiac doesn’t support subjects in WordPress. The client that allows you to pull down posts, Plogit, isn’t very reliable, and I have yet to be able to post with it. Vagablogger, with its attractive simplicity works pretty well (I’ve actually used it for the most posts), but has a quirk or two of its own. Mo:Blog also works, but it’s main attraction is the ability to save posts, which means posts in progress, which means long posts, a keyboard, and the desire to work on a rotated screen, which it doesn’t support. While it’s tempting to list each and every thought, I have to remember that the market for these types of apps is fairly small – I should be grateful I have four to choose from.

But none of these clients have the workflows I think would be ideal:

  1. There are the quickie posts, where the entry is made with the Palm in hand, and you want to create a short post quickly. You don’t need a lot of writing space, and you don’t want to dig through menus for basic tags and the post button. You need a title, and a pickbox for categories the client has been nice enough to collect for you. A very small push-on-push-off button for publish or draft. In fact, small icons (or even just letters) could serve for the tags as well.
  2. Then there are longer posts that require enough text that you might want to use the keyboard. This means a rotated display on half-VGA displays, and more text space on the screen. The key here is that the screen can rotate, and the entire screen can be used. The extra text displayed is really helpful in maintaining a train of thought, and creating coherent paragraphs. In this scenario going to menus is ok – more time is available, and maximum text on the screen is the critical element.
  3. Last are the posts that weren’t meant to be posts. These might be things written in other apps, or might be clips from a browser. This would be a hack to feed text into the main blogging client. This would also allow people to use really serious editors when they wish, to get things like word count and spell checking. You find something interesting, you do the comand shortcut, and it’s in a post. You’ve set a default that decides if it has been put in a queue for publishing, sent immediately, or just saved for later.

I think item #1 should be the main screen – you start the app and the default is that you want to make a simple post. Menus allow you to get to old posts, a screen button allows you to jump to heavy entry mode. At other times, a command shortcut let’s you get the post in to the client for further processing.

I think an application capable of the above, reliable, with the usual level of smaller features, would be worth at least $40 to me.

The Ultimate Palm Blogging Client Idea #1

How about this as a feature to add to a PBC (Palm Blogging Client): You select some text no matter what you’re doing in your Palm, and it’s a blog post saved in your blogging client. So, If you’re Jeff Kirvin and you want to use a word processor to write posts, you can write your post in Docs 6 or whatever, select the text, and off it goes to your client for posting.

Likewise, if you have a memo pad entry that was sync’d down from the PC, you could easily grab that and post it to. Same with links and pages from Webpro and Blazer, and stuff from Snappermail and others.

After all, much of blogging is about distributing the little tidbits we find here and there, that usually have a short shelf life. These kinds of posts should be quick & easy.

Palm Blogging #4 – Vagablogger & Plogit

I just found out that my last post, which was posted via Vagablogger, was posted without allowing pings and with comments turned off. It also ended up in the wrong category, but I will attribute that to a typing error. The pings and comments might take a little investigation. There aren’t any controls that allow turning these things on and off in Vagablogger, and they are both set to default to on in my WordPress intallation. Hmmm….

I also got a copy of plogit finally. First thing I tried to download 99 posts, and it had an error. When I settled for 10 it worked ok. I haven’t posted with it yet, but it looks pretty promising.

More later.

More on Palm blogging clients

A while back I wrote a post about blogging clients for Palm devices. Since then, I’ve had a chance to use those three tools and learn a bit more. Below you will find a comparison chart of the Palm blogging clients I’m looking at. I put in the features I thought were important, but if you are interested in others, please let me know. And, of course, if there’s a palm bloggin client I’ve not listed here, please let me know about it!

So far, I like Vagablogger for it’s ability to post a draft – which is nice when I want to capture an idea, and get it on the site so I can edit it further. But, mo:Blog is probably better for truly Palm-based blogging as you can keep multiple posts on the Palm, and can also have multiple accounts. Hblogger is alone in the ability to store past posts, but it doesn’t yet support subject lines, although they say they will be adding features in the coming months.

I haven’t had any use for the image uploading capabilities yet, so they remain untested.

One last note: With regard to the blog compatibility, I’m using the statements by the authors. In reality, all will post to my WordPress blog.


Vagablog Hblogger mo:Blog
Multiple accounts No Yes Yes
Multiple posts in progress No Yes Yes
Post signature No Yes Yes
Post Subject Yes No Yes
Edit timestamp of saved posts No No No
Post date posts No No No
Specify category in post Yes No No
Specify category in account No Yes Yes
Save posts without sending No Yes Yes
Save sent posts No Yes No
Upload images No Yes Yes
View image directory No No No
Send without publishing Yes No No
link Yes Yes Yes
bold Yes Yes Yes
italic Yes Yes Yes
ordered list No No No
unordered list No No No
emph Yes No No
br No No Yes
underline Yes Yes Yes
p No Yes No
One click for both start and end tags No Yes Yes
One click each for start and end tags Yes No No
Compatible weblogs
Blogger Yes Yes Yes
Live Journal No Yes Yes
Movable Type Yes Yes Yes
Ujournal No Yes No
DeadJournal No Yes No
Blurty No Yes No
NeedlessPanic No Yes No
Plogs No Yes No
Caleida No Yes No
GreatestJournal No Yes No
TypePad Yes Yes Yes
Weblogs No Yes No
WordPress Yes No Yes
metaWeblog Yes No No
JournalSpace No No Yes
B2 No No Yes

Blogging from the Palm

I know that WordPress supports email posting, but looking through the posts it seems to be a dicey business. With a trip coming up, and the desire to blog on the go, I thought I would look into the various Palm blogging tools available.

Today I tried Vagablog, Hblogger, and mo:Blog. All have the basic functionality of creating and publishing a post. I canâ??t comment on the compatibility of programs with the various systems â?? all I can really comment on is my experience.

Vagablog is the least expensive, at $7. Its registration reminder is unobtrusive and unavoidable â?? you get 5 posts, and they warn you when the program starts. The interface is very simple â?? the first screen you arrive at is a post screen, with title and category at the top, and a â??postâ?? button at the bottom. There are no multiple blogs, and there is no way to save a post. This app seems to scream out at folks who are making lots and lots of short posts â?? key it to a hard button on the palm, hit the button, bang out the entry, hit â??postâ?? and you are done. Very simple. It does not take advantage of the dynamic graffiti area on my T3.

Hblogger is a bit more pricey at $14.95. Its registration reminder is a bit more obtrusive, which is unnecessary â?? the app runs for 15 days. Why they feel the need to remind me of that every time I try to do something important, I donâ??t know. It supports the dynamic graffiti area on my T3 just fine.

Anyway, the Hblogger is prettier than Vagablog, and is aimed at a more leisurely posting pace. You get drop downs for HTML tags, Live Journal stuff, and post options. Below that you select the weblog, the definition of which includes which category you are posting to. For whatever reason (perhaps because it was unregistered) there was no space for the post title â?? just the space for the post itself. After you write a post, you can send it, save it, or move it to the outbox unsent. Not sure what that last one is for. Being able to set up multiple blogs gives the user very easy access to categories vs. typing them out on Vagablog. On the downside, the manual is a bit sketchy, and the subject line for posts is missing in my instance.

Mo:blog is $12.50, and is probably the best deal, although it does not support the dynamic graffiti area. It offers the same level of functionality as Hblogger, but does it in a more attractive package. It also does it with the most annoying registration reminder method Iâ??ve seen yet. At various times, when you are trying to send a post, or doing something else, it will pop up a countdown screen and make you wait for up to 15 seconds.

Even so, between mo:Blog and Hblogger, I would probably pick mo:Blog unless I was using Live Journal, in which case Hbloggerâ??s special LJ features might win the day. Based on features, though, the choice isnâ??t easy. Both allow image upload and access to VFS for images. Both let you send all unsent posts across multiple blogs in one go. Mo:Blog does manage snippets where Hblogger doesnâ??t seem to.

Neither does a good job with images, in my opinion. Both allow you to specify a directory to find a file, but they donâ??t give you any way to look for a file when you go to insert it into a post â?? you are picking from the files in the directory you specified. This wouldnâ??t be a problem if all the photos you might want to pick from where in one directory, but they arenâ??t. Most digicams create a new directory for every 100 pics. If you donâ??t know the exact directory the file is in, or what the file name is, youâ??re screwed. So you really have to spend some time with the camera (or accessory software on the palm) to note the name of the file, and itâ??s location. I can empathize with not adding complete photo browse functionality, but could you at least give us the ability to go up and down directories, and see what files are there?

If you do manage to figure out exactly which file and directory you need, thereâ??s one more hurdle to cross if you are arenâ??t using integrated networking â?? when you pull out the photo card to put in the WiFi card to send the post, the image is no longer available. Neither app saves a copy of the image with the post to avoid this.

At this point, I just donâ??t see either app having useful photo ability. In a pinch it can be done, but itâ??s more hassle than itâ??s worth to me.

If I look beyond the photos, I feel mo:Blog has a nicer interface, although that infuriating delay-based reminder may drive it out of my palm yet. It even makes me wait when I cancel out of a menu!

While all three are certainly functional, and Hblogger & mo:Blog offer a fairly complete experience, there are features I want that none of these apps have:

  1. I want to be able to pull down existing posts that have been saved as drafts, so I can edit them. If I start a post on the palm, I donâ??t want to be stuck editing it on the palm. Since posts can be kept on the site as drafts, it makes sense to store them there.
  2. I want to be able to adjust the posting date. I tend to get post ideas in clumps, but I don’t want to post them that way. With WordPress, I can simply post-date an entry and it appears when its date passes.
  3. Iâ??d like to be able to manage categories, or at least add new ones.

As it turned out, Iâ??ve registered all three. I will play with them further over the next few weeks.

[1/4/2004 – Here is some more on Palm blogging clients]