Blogging from Android - a partial review

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1/18/2014 7:02:43 AM
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Blogging from Android - a partial review

I've just tried some Android blogging apps, because I have some site members who want to blog from phones/tablets and don't like the normal in-site blog editor (especially for images). I've started a new thread for this, hoping the information may be of use to others; previous conversations have been had here. This testing has also revealed a couple of possible mojoPortal bugs.

There are several candidate apps in the Play store, only some of which claim to be compatible with my device (7" Kobo Arc, running Android 4.1) - I only looked a few, in particular "WordPress", "Easy WordPress & Blogger", "Loters" and "CtbaBlogger".

The first point is that for some time I thought they were all failing - whatever I did, nothing appeared on my blog. However I then discovered that the posts were being loaded as drafts, with "Is Published" = False. I think this may be a mojoPortal bug, as the posts had not been flagged as drafts in the apps (where they had the capacity to do this). So a few words about the experience with each...

WordPress for Android allows a mojoPortal blog to be added - you have to choose the "self-hosted blog" option. On configuring it with the mysite.com/metaweblogapi.ashx address, things started well - it recognized that my site had two blogs and allowed me to select one. Yet this lot had already appeared in the mojo system log:

2014-01-18 06:05:53,901 ERROR 87.114.73.171 - en-US - /metaweblogapi.ashx - mojoPortal.Web.BlogUI.metaweblogapi - mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.MetaWeblogException: Invalid XMLRPC Request. (StartIndex cannot be less than zero.
Parameter name: startIndex)
   at mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.XMLRPCRequest.LoadXmlRequest(String xml)
   at mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.XMLRPCRequest..ctor(HttpContext input)
   at mojoPortal.Web.BlogUI.metaweblogapi.ProcessRequest(HttpContext context)
2014-01-18 06:05:54,063 ERROR 87.114.73.171 - en-US - /metaweblogapi.ashx - mojoPortal.Web.BlogUI.metaweblogapi - mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.MetaWeblogException: Invalid XMLRPC Request. (StartIndex cannot be less than zero.
Parameter name: startIndex)
   at mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.XMLRPCRequest.LoadXmlRequest(String xml)
   at mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.XMLRPCRequest..ctor(HttpContext input)
   at mojoPortal.Web.BlogUI.metaweblogapi.ProcessRequest(HttpContext context)
2014-01-18 06:05:55,035 ERROR (null) - (null) - (null) - mojoPortal.Web.BlogUI.metaweblogapi - mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.MetaWeblogException: Unknown Method. (wp.getOptions)
   at mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.XMLRPCRequest.LoadXmlRequest(String xml)
   at mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.XMLRPCRequest..ctor(HttpContext input)
   at mojoPortal.Web.BlogUI.metaweblogapi.ProcessRequest(HttpContext context)
2014-01-18 06:05:55,346 ERROR (null) - (null) - (null) - mojoPortal.Web.BlogUI.metaweblogapi - mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.MetaWeblogException: Unknown Method. (wp.getOptions)
   at mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.XMLRPCRequest.LoadXmlRequest(String xml)
   at mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.XMLRPCRequest..ctor(HttpContext input)
   at mojoPortal.Web.BlogUI.metaweblogapi.ProcessRequest(HttpContext context)

The post authoring interface is nice, with easy text formatting and insertion of links, photos, excerpt text etc.

It failed to fetch categories for the blog, with horrible UI flickering while it tried for ages (nothing in system log).

Posting proved to be a little frustrating - lots of waiting while WordPress showed a twirly, very little feedback. Sometimes the post worked fine (albeit incorrectly flagged as draft - see above), and images arrived in the WLW folder, without overwriting each other (unlike with Easy... see below).

However, most of the app is designed for more advanced blog management (comments, statistics etc) which probably work nicely with a WordPress blog, but with a mojoPortal one clicking on any of these tools result in lots of waiting for a twirly, and lots of errors in the mojoPortal system log along these lines:

2014-01-18 04:05:02,664 ERROR (null) - (null) - (null) - mojoPortal.Web.BlogUI.metaweblogapi - mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.MetaWeblogException: Unknown Method. (wp.getOptions)
   at mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.XMLRPCRequest.LoadXmlRequest(String xml)
   at mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.XMLRPCRequest..ctor(HttpContext input)
   at mojoPortal.Web.BlogUI.metaweblogapi.ProcessRequest(HttpContext context)

Other unknown methods in the system log included wp.getComments, wp.getPostFormats and wp.getMediaLibrary.  I suppose this means there's not enough of the Wordpress API implemented at this stage to let this particular app function. It looks like a tidy app, so additional support would be welcome if possible.

Overall I would not recommend anyone using WordPress for Android with a mojoPortal blog, as things stand because too much of the app doesn't work at all, and creating posts only works in part.

"Easy WordPress & Blogger", which also seems to be called "Soffice" once you open it.

This is really aimed only at authoring blog posts, without the wider management capabilities of WordPress (which don't work with a mojoPortal site anyway of course). So at face value it looks promising. It does have irritating adverts plonked right in the middle of the post you are creating, which is nearly enough to stop me using it instantly, as it is quite easy to tap these accidentally while authoring. But I persevered...

I configured my blog using the API handler address, and it correctly recognized my two blogs and invited me to select one (while also supporting multiple named blogs).

Once you have worked out how to author a post (by inserting "elements", the command for this being hidden by the keyboard!), it provides nice easy tools for basic text formatting (bold, underline, italic), inserting links, lists and quotes etc (though some dodgy markup).

It also adds pictures nicely, however in practice it doesn't work as every post with a picture I posted, the image got saved and referenced as "/Data/Sites/1/media/wlw/wpid-temp.png" so every post ended up with the last image (very confusing with the browser caching them as well!). A mojoPortal bug?

It fails to detect categories - nothing in the mojo system log. It allows adding tags, but these are not relevant in a mojo blog so vanish on posting.

It's a bit buggy - I found that sometimes it got stuck and when starting a "New Post", it loaded the last post in the interface, and the X button that loolks like it should remove an "Element" fails to do so.

Posting is a bit frustrating - it said "success" every time, but in reality some posts failed in part or completely (e.g. text loaded, image not), for example with this in the system log:

2014-01-18 06:44:01,530 ERROR (null) - (null) - (null) - mojoPortal.Web.BlogUI.metaweblogapi - mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.MetaWeblogException: Invalid XMLRPC Request. (Unexpected end of file has occurred. The following elements are not closed: base64, value, member, struct, value, param, params, methodCall. Line 3754, position 75.)
   at mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.XMLRPCRequest.LoadXmlRequest(String xml)
   at mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.XMLRPCRequest..ctor(HttpContext input)
   at mojoPortal.Web.BlogUI.metaweblogapi.ProcessRequest(HttpContext context)

presumably indicating a bug in the app.

Overall, if you can stomach the ads, this Easy WordPress app is nearly usable as a blogging app for mojoPortal. If the mojoPortal bugs are fixed (images overwriting each other and wrong draft status), and the categories can be made to work, and the app bugs are fixed (e.g. "X" delete button), I would use this. Actually no I wouldn't - I'd use Windows Live Writer any day. But if that didn't exist I might use this in a blogging emergency (and I cannot imagine having one of those).

"Blogger" claimed to be incompatible with my device, as did "Blogger-droid". There were various others that say they only work with blogger.com, like "blogaway" etc. I didn't try them either.

"Loters" claimed support of the Metaweblog API, but failed instantly on entering the blog address and account details. This in the mojo system log:

2014-01-18 05:45:39,408 ERROR 87.114.73.171 - en-US - /metaweblogapi.ashx - mojoPortal.Web.BlogUI.metaweblogapi - mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.MetaWeblogException: Invalid XMLRPC Request. (StartIndex cannot be less than zero.
Parameter name: startIndex)
   at mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.XMLRPCRequest.LoadXmlRequest(String xml)
   at mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.XMLRPCRequest..ctor(HttpContext input)
   at mojoPortal.Web.BlogUI.metaweblogapi.ProcessRequest(HttpContext context)

"CtbaWriter" claimed support of the Metaweblog API, but also failed instantly with this in the log:

2014-01-18 05:55:45,833 ERROR (null) - (null) - (null) - mojoPortal.Web.BlogUI.metaweblogapi - mojoPortal.Core.API.MetaWeblog.MetaWeblogException: The method GetUserInfo is not implemented.
   at mojoPortal.Web.BlogUI.metaweblogapi.ProcessRequest(HttpContext context)

In conclusion, I have not found a viable solution for mojoPortal blogging from Android from this quick review. But it's not far off, and making at least one of these options work well would be a significant step forward for mojoPortal as more and more people spend their time on tablets and phones instead of PCs and laptops.

If I've missed any apps that actually work with mojoPortal, please reply to this thread as I have some users who would really appreciate a solution.

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