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Palm Powered

Weblogging

by John Winstanley, Palm User and Weblogger

I have been a keen user of Palm OS devices for over three years now. Just over a year ago I started a Palm focused weblog (or blog) to allow me to share my enthusiasm for these powerful little devices. This blog has recently moved over to its own domain and had a serious facelift courtesy of one of my co-bloggers, Sven Rafferty. Check out the site atwww.mypalmlife.com

For me the natural progression from writing a blog about Palm OS was to write a blog about Palm OS on a Palm Powered handheld. From this premise I set out to find out what methods of mobile blogging are out there and how well they worked. This article is an attempt to condense what information I have found into a short, straightforward resource for anyone else interested in this subject. I will update this page as often as possible. If you have a favorite tool for mobile blogging or any insight into the practicalities of mobile blogging please contact me via my own website. (You can also send comments via the link at left.)

I have managed to identify three different ways in which you can use you Palm Powered handheld to post to your weblog. Dependent on what blogging system you are using, some or all of these may be options available to you. The three methods I have identified are: Web authoring and FTP, dedicated Palm OS blogging applications, and e-mail and Web browser.

Software
Web authoring and FTP
Dedicated Palm OS blogging applications
E-mail and Web browser
Hardware
User Stories
Online Resources

Software

Web authoring and FTP

These applications are more for the dedicated Webmasters out there. These are fully fledged HTML editors and FTP clients. Using these applications you can create and upload updates to you blog directly from your Palm Powered device.

screenshot Torpedo
Torpedo is a HTML editor for the Palm OS (2.0 and above). This is for the die-hard 'hand-coders' out there. Not a dedicated 'blogging' tool but can be used for the purpose. The download also includes a FTP (File Transfer Protocol) application to allow maintenance of your weblog.
http://www.palmgear.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=software.showsoftware&prodID=14277
screenshot PHTML
PHTML is another Palm OS based HTML editor with a similar feature set to Torpedo.
http://www.palmgear.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=software.showsoftware&prodID=29015
screenshot LFtp
LFtp is a freeware File Transfer Protocol client. This application is bundled with Torpedo and PHTML.
http://www.palmgear.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=software.showsoftware&prodID=7913
screenshot VFSFTP
This is an FTP client that can upload directly from the expansion card of your handheld. To be used in conjunction with PHTML or similar HTML editor that is able to save native HTML to the expansion card.
http://www.palmgear.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=software.showsoftware&prodID=46571

Dedicated Palm OS Blogging Applications

This is a collection of dedicated Palm OS blogging tools. As such these are more suited to the 'every day' blogger although some knowledge of PHP or Perl scripting may be required.

Avantblog
Avantblog allows blogging via the extremely popular Avantgo Palm OS web browser. Using Avantgo's built-in 'forms' system a blog entry can be written up and then synced back to your weblog. It is compatible with the popular web based blogging tool Blogger.com and also supports Movable Type. The limitation of only being usable with Blogger.com accounts does restrict the appeal of this blogging implementation.
http://www.dentedreality.com.au/avantblog/
screenshot handX weblog
handX weblog is a 'stand alone' application for the writing and publishing of weblogs directly on and from the Palm OS. It is not limited to a single form of blog - the developer supplies several scripting templates for you to upload to your blog server. The one downside to this application is that your new blog entries are not uploaded to your site until you next sync your Palm Powered handheld to a desktop PC. There is no option for direct FTP-ing from the Palm OS.
http://www.palmgear.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=software.showsoftware&prodID=13621
screenshot Vagablog
Similar implementation to handX weblog - however Vagablog supports file transfer from the Palm OS directly to the blog server. Supports Blogger.com, Journalspace.com, MovableType and Wordpress. The developer provides excellent step-by-step guides to getting Vagablog up and running on your own particular blog setup.
http://www.palmgear.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=software.showsoftware&prodID=51902

E-mail and Web Browser

Possibly the most straightforward method for the occasional 'mobile blogger.'

screenshot VersaMail
A fully integrated e-mail solution, with conduits for Outlook and many other PC e-mail clients.
http://www.palmgear.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=software.showsoftware&prodID=48823
screenshot SnapperMail
A fully featured e-mail client but currently lacking any PC conduits.
http://www.palmgear.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=software.showsoftware&prodID=44645
Palm Web Pro 3 (Tungsten T3 only)
Fully featured web browser for the palmOne Tungsten T3.
http://www.palmgear.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=software.showsoftware&prodID=52339
screenshot Handspring Blazer
Web browser for Palm OS 3.5 and above.
http://www.palmgear.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=software.showsoftware&prodID=36176

Hardware

One final consideration will be how you intend to connect your Palm Powered device to the internet to allow you to publish your blog entries. This is a subject too large to cover here in any depth - however here is a list of several alternatives you may wish to consider:

Separate telephone modem - depending on what device you are using there are several Palm branded and third party modems available. Most operate via the Infrared (IR) port or the universal connector on your handheld.

Mobile phone - many modern mobile phones have built-in modems which the Palm OS can connect to via IR or increasingly via Bluetooth. Your mobile phone tariff will need to allow data transfer - many tariffs are voice only.

WiFi - increasingly Palms Powered handhelds include (or can be upgraded to include) WiFi technology. This way you can connect you handheld to the internet via a work, home or 'hotspot' WiFi network.

User Stories

Posting photos directly to a weblog

Ray R.

I have integrated the Sony Clie NX's camera with my online weblog (http://www.lothlorien.com/dove), where I can now snap a picture, note a comment, and when I next have wireless or cell phone access, send my picture and weblog entry right to my weblog. I'm able to share photographs of family, friends, and events with less effort than a traditional digital or film camera. As a Palm OS developer, I knew this could be done --- but as it turned out, by using Clie Mail and about thirty lines of PHP on a private Web server, it all just worked without needing to write a line of code for the handheld. It took me less time to assemble these pieces than it used to take to copy images from my camera to my laptop, select one, and post it to my weblog.

Blogging at a conference

From the Palm Bloggers Yahoo! Group:

Jonathan Ezor

"I recently attended the Pulver.com Wireless Internet Summit. Armed with my trusty Tungsten C (now with Hebrew support!) and Ultra-thin Keyboard and the Wi-Fi connection provided by the Pulver folks, I posted moment-by-moment comments on the conference using the T|C's built in browser to my *other* blog, BizLawTech, which runs (as does my PalmBlog) on MovableType. It worked great, and I was much less encumbered than the many participants who were tapping away on laptop keyboards around me."

Web Resources

Palm OS based weblogging is still in the very early stages of maturity, and as such web resources are few and far between. Many of the developers mentioned in the software section above provide excellent support to get you up and running with their software so always check those first.

Yahoo! Groups - Palm Bloggers
This is a Yahoo! Group that I set up as a discussion forum for people interested in blogging from and about their Palm devices. The current membership is 76 and includes several developers who are actively working on some of the software mentioned above. Please come and join our group and contribute to the development of these products.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/palmbloggers/

PalmSource Expert Guides - Writing
Mike Rohde has produced this excellent guide to writing on Palm OS. I personally compose my blogs using a word processor on the Palm OS and then copy and paste into Vagablog. Mike has lots of advice on software, hardware, writing style etc.
http://www.palmsource.com/interests/writing/

PalmSource Expert Guides - Mobile Email
Lots of interesting news and information for the homing pigeon enthusiast, a section of the site is devoted to the use of technology and Palm Powered devices in the hobby. The Pigeon People database can be searched from your Palm Powered handheld using a PQA, downloadable from the site. There are some good ideas to be found here, whether you are a "Pigeon Person" or not!
http://www.palmsource.com/interests/mobile_email/

PalmSource Expert Guides - Browsers
More information on the available web browsers.
http://www.palmsource.com/interests/browsers/

WordPress
WordPress is a server side weblogging system allowing you to post blog entries via the web or e-mail. Many of the weblogs currently on the net are powered by WordPress. Wordpress is open source software.
http://wordpress.org/

MovableType
Similar in appearance and functionality to WordPress.
http://www.movabletype.org/