It seems WordPress.com has done away with the annual blog report they typically release in January of the previous year. As a JetPack user, I get this report for each of the blogs I have connected to WordPress.com through that plugin. Although I didn't see any official announcements, I think WordPress.com have done away with this feature.
John Saddington worked on his new OS X publishing app, Desk, for about 250 days. I was priveleged to be invited to test the app for a few months so when it was released in the Mac App Store today, I immediately installed a copy.
John designed Desk to remove the distracting clutter from your mind and help you focus on what matters most: Your thoughts. It’s designed to be simple and intuitive, yet powerful and fast. Desk supports a number of publhsing platforms including:
WordPress (self-hosted and .com)
Blogger / Blogspot
When you first launch Desk, you'll see how minimal the writing experience is. I was presented with little more than a rectangular window into which I could immediately start writing or drag and drop and image. Desk support both WYSIWYG and Markdown style editing. There is no need to switch between these two choice. Desk uses both of these as the same time.
With Desk I can save a draft locally on my iMac for completion later or store it in iCloud and continue editing from my MacBook Air. iCloud keeps everything in sync and automatically saves my edits.
Most of my blogging is done either via the WordPress web GUI or MarsEdit. While MarsEdit gets the job done the user experience is a bit dated and clunky. In comparison, Desk feels modern and light weight. Feature wise, Desk does everything I can do in MarsEdit.
Access, edit, and update existing posts and drafts
Drag-and-drop images right into the editor
Features for each publishing platform (e.g. Featured images, categories, tags, custom slugs/URLs, etc.)
Preview mode with real-time updating
One nifty feature of Desk is that I can chose one platform and configuration as a default. Since WordPress is my main publishing platform and most of my posts are images post, I configured Desk so that publishing is just a single click.
One thing I have been paying attention to recently is the length of my blog posts. In the past some of my post have been long but quite a number are very short; about a sentence or two. While I want to increase the amount of long form content I create I also want to have increase the word count of my image post. I want to write at least 500 word per posts. The Desk editor window displays real-time metadata information such as character count, word count and time to read. Files can be exported as HTML, RTF,PDF and DOCX.
John says that Desk is a product that has been more than 10+ years in the making and that he came up with the idea for desk in 2002 while on a road trip down the coast of Florida with his brother. It seems a good idea will persist and persistence can bring ideas to reality.
Storehouse.co is both an iOS app and a web publishing platform for creating visual stories. I have used the app only for a short time and published a whopping four stories but I used it as a way to create my narrative before publishing my stories on this blog. Storehouse.co is to Instagram as Medium is to Tumblr. Every user gets a profile and my stories can remain private or I can publish them to my Storehouse.co profile page. Not only can I create photo journal type narratives but I could lose hours reading the wonderful photo adventures of the many users of the platform.
Tell stories with photos and videos. Whether you’re on the iPhone or iPad, creating stories has never been easier or more fun. Seamlessly combine photos, videos, and text into a beautiful story.
The app is the only way to upload video and images to a story. Once an account is created you create a story by uploading and laying out images, video and entering some descriptive text.
The app has a social media aspect to it. I linked Storehouse to my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts. Storehouse will then check if any of my followers of people I follow are using Storehouse. I can select whom I want to follow from that list or browse through the public feeds for interesting stories to read or people to follow.
Tapping the white circle brings up a story editor. I can import images and video from iOS photo library, Instagram, Flickr or Dropbox or shoot straight from the app. This is easier done on the iPhone. It's difficult to keep the iPad steady while taking a photo.
Once images are imported I can add text or layout and re-size the images to my liking. The image editing interface is simple tap and drag. A blue outline around a selected images allows the user to crop or re-position the image. Storehouse supports up to 50 photos and videos per story but videos must be 30 seconds or less. I can pinch to zoom in and out or drag to pan the photo. The images are edited non-destructively. I can undo all my changes. Font are limited to Normal, Header, and Quote. The Quote font is the largest and is best used to make a piece of text standout. Once you have your story just the way you want it you can tap the publish button to push it out to the world.
Tapping the little house button brings you to the main feed. From here you can tap to read a story. It's easy to show appreciation to your fellow Storehouse authors by posting a comment. Once you get to the end of a story, you can tap the call out icon to post a comment. There is button for reporting either the story or a rude comment. I've never used the re-blogging feature.
Although both apps contain the full feature set, the stories and photos are stunning on the larger screen of the iPad Air.