Mobile Blogging with Publ and CodeAnywhere

Right now I’m sitting bored in a waiting room, so I decided to give CodeAnywhere a shot as a means of editing entries directly on my site, since that’s a use case I’ve mentioned as a possibility for the future.

Here are some of my observations as I run across them while writing this entry.

First of all, for some reason it defaults to port 21 for ssh. Which is wrong; ssh defaults port 22. That seems like a very strange error to make in such an important, common setting. (21 is usually used for FTP. Which is to say that it should never actually be used because FTP is a terrible, insecure protocol.)

Next, using an iPad in landscape mode doesn’t give a very good UX; the context menu which you use to create a file doesn’t fully appear. You have to put your device into portrait in order to make half the menu show up, at least on the iPad Pro. Given that I use the the Smart Keyboard that makes for a very awkward set of motions I have to do in order to create an entry.

There’s also a bit of a nuisance when it comes to creating an entry and having it not appear immediately; the moment you create a new file, CodeAnywhere saves it, which causes Publ to index and display it. But then when you add the Status: DRAFT header to prevent this, it refuses to save your changes because the indexer overwrote the file with the entry ID and so on.

Okay, so while editing, there doesn’t seem to be any way to turn on word wrap. So my screen looks like this:

not that I can figure out how to upload an image file, either. Hmm. [obviously I figured this out eventually… sort of]

Oh, okay, there is a word wrap option buried in the settings:

There’s a bunch of other quirks with the UI; I can either have my editor able to edit, or I can use the menu. Doesn’t seem like I can do both at the same time. Switching to the menu also seems to lose my editing context. As does switching apps, like for copying a URL from somewhere else. Sometimes, anyway.

There doesn’t seem to be any split-screen support, so all inter-process stuff needs to go through full-screen app switching. That’s a bit annoying. Oh, but at least Safari works in sidebar mode, but this then obscures like ¼ of your editing window and there’s no way to see what’s happening under the sidebar:

Okay, so, this seems to be somewhat usable for text-only blogging and writing code and whatever. But it seems I need a separate scp/sftp/whatever client to upload stuff. So I tried FTPManager. It, too, could be quite a lot better (but this entry has already taken me long enough to write).

Another thing that’s a bit annoying: there’s a way of quickly switching between open documents from an open document, but as far as I can tell no easy way to bring up the open documents switcher from the file browser.

Oh, and on the on-screen keyboard, the shift key acts like a lock toggle instead of the usual iOS behavior. And it diesnt get autocorrect/autocomplete/two-soaces-to-add-a-period either, even though all that still works from the hardware keyboard (where I don’t actually want or use it)! So, that’s precisely backwards…

Anyway, my feeling so far is that this is simply okay in a pinch but for text-only blogging I’m probably better off just sshing in and using Emacs or Nano or whatever, and not bother with posting images.

A dedicated mobile web editor would of course solve these problems, and is something I’m still considering (although it would definitely be an addon to Publ and not a core component).

And of course, Micropub is a possibility as well (as I’ve mentioned previously), although it has some protocol-level stuff that makes it something of a mismatch for Publ; it’s built around Twitter-style short updates (single segment of text with maybe a bunch of image attachments, with no real editing functionality), while I’d prefer a much more fully-featured post editor.

I wonder if there’s any Javascripty editor components that could be finagled into working the way I want…

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