No Hair Blog

Posting and Editing a Static Blog on an iPad

I bought a new iPad Pro and Apple keyboard to use as a blogging platform. On my Macs, I use TextWrangler which has sftp capabilities to write and edit posts and manage files on my web server. I have tried several apps to do the same on the iPad.

My web server runs OpenBSD and I have the usual suite of Unix utilities including vim along with nano and screen installed. The simplest way is to use a terminal program which supports SSH and private key/public key authorization and then fire up vim or nano in a session. With screen, you can detach the session, log out, then come back later and pick up where you left off.

I use Termius for this. The free version is functional enough. The paid version ($9.99 per year) adds sftp and other features. Panic's Prompt 2 ($14.99) is also very good. But for cheap old me who blogs infrequently in the internet backwater, free is good enough. When using nano, however, scrolling the screen just doesn't work.

Sometimes, though, I want to write on the iPad and then connect and upload the (almost complete) html file which is the post. In that case, there are several options:

Documents: This replacement for Files supports ftp, sftp, etc. If you download an html file, you cannot open it in the Documents editor, but you simply rename it to some_file.txt and then you can. If you have an HTML editor (below), Documents allows you to “share” the file with that app and edit it. Then, if you are using an editor which does not support accessing remote documents, you can share the edited file with Documents to upload it back to the server. [This sharing nonsense is a result of the file system practices of IOS where each app has its own files and documents in a ‘silo’ which, generally, cannot be accessed directly by another app. By sharing, those files or documents are actually copied to the other app’s silo. Clunky in the extreme.]

Coda is Panic’s multilanguage editor (and terminal program - essentially Prompt - built in). Very complete and well-regarded; however, it’s $24.99. If you use Coda 2 on OSX as an IDE, these really work well together. This is the closest to the free TextWrangler for the Mac.

Textastic Code Editor 6 ($9.99) does it all as well. This is probably the best bang for the buck. It doesn't allow you to edit on the server. The file is downloaded, edited (and can be viewed and checked in the browser within Textastic), then re-uploaded to the server.

So far,Textastic appears the best for writing but a quick SSH -> vim or nano on the server is better for a quick correction. Addendum: Now after using Testastic for a while, my workflow is changed and I find Textastic the go to app on the iPad. When you create or download a HTML file/blog page, the file remasins on the iPad after uploading to the web server. Corrections and editing are then as simple as editing the local file then uploading the changed file to the server, provided that you haven't changed it from another machine. (Then, Textastic has a "Downlod latest" action.) Other files like lists of entries, tags, etc are kept on the iPad for additions.

To track the changes, a system like git on the server might be a consideration, where you pull the latest version, change it, and commit the changes. That prevents errors and also unintended deletions. Hmm.

This post was written using Documents, initially edited with Termius using nano on the server, but subsequently with Textastic.

Posted by Gordon, No Hair Blog, Apr 24, 2018

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