WriteFreely for iOS Public Beta

I’m very happy to announce that the public beta for WriteFreely for iOS is now open! We’ve been hard at work building this app over the summer, and I’m excited to ship this sneak peek to you all and get your feedback.

But first…

Disclaimer

If you’re interested in testing the public beta, that’s wonderful! However, please keep in mind that this is pre-release software, and so we recommend you use it on a test account where you’re not concerned about losing your work. We’ve taken precautions to prevent data loss, but as the cartographers of yore used to say: here be dragons.

WriteFreely for iOS v1.0.0b1 (build 340)

With that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff!

If you’d like to test the app, you’ll need three things:

  1. An iOS device running iOS 14;
  2. The TestFlight app installed on said iOS device;
  3. An account on a WriteFreely instance.

(Don’t have a WriteFreely instance? You can sign up for a free account on these open WriteFreely instances or on Write.as to test with.)

We’ve set up a page for sign-ups with a link to the TestFlight build. Tapping it on your device will open the TestFlight app, and you simply need to confirm that you’d like to accept the invitation to test.

What To Test

Of course, the first thing you’ll probably want to try is writing something. So go ahead! Tap the new-post button (at the top right of the post list), and you’ll be presented with a blank post to start writing your thoughts. Notice that the post gets a LOCAL badge — this post lives on your device, and is not synced to your WriteFreely instance.

Speaking of your WriteFreely instance, maybe now’s a good time to log in! At the bottom left of the post list, there’s a settings button (look for the gear symbol). Tap it to bring up the settings sheet and have a look around. You’ll find:

Log in to your account and your posts will be downloaded to the app, with a PUBLISHED badge next to them. Tap the name of your WriteFreely instance at the top-left of the post list, and you’ll be shown a list of your blogs, as well as your (anonymous) drafts.

Go to any of your blogs (or your drafts area) and tap the new-post button to create a new post as part of that collection. It’ll start off as a local post, only on your device, until you’re ready to publish it. When you are, tap the publish button in the editor (look for the paper airplane symbol) to publish it to the server!

You can also edit a published post (you’ll see its badge change to EDITED). Just like new posts, edits remain local to your device until you publish your changes to the server.

When you’re ready to share your post, tap the share button in the editor, next to the publish button. This opens the iOS share sheet for you to send the link to your post via email, iMessage, or any other sharing service installed on your device. You can share the published version of an edited post — your edits remain private, just for you on your device, until you’re ready to share them.

Made changes to a post elsewhere? Updates are pulled into the server periodically, or you can manually do this by tapping the reload button at the bottom-right of the post list. The app will let you that there’s a new version of the post on the server, and you can replace the version on your device with it.

You can delete local drafts by swiping left on them in the post list, and blank local posts are deleted automatically when you leave the editor. You can’t delete published posts from the app yet, though; for now, you’ll have to do this from the web app. When you reload your content from the server, the app will let you know that the post was deleted from the server, and prompt you to delete it locally as well.

Logging out will remove all your content from your device, including local posts and edits. If there’s anything you’d like to keep, be sure to publish it to the server before logging out.

Contributing to the App

As mentioned above, this is beta software, so while it’s pretty stable (I wrote this post in the app on my iPad!) you may come across some bugs or have some ideas on how to improve it.

First, here’s a list of known issues. Of those listed, a couple bear mentioning here:

If you need help, open the settings sheet and tap the “Visit Help Forum” to see if your question has already been answered here; if not, you can post it to the forum.

If you’ve got a bug to report, you can do so on GitHub. Please include:

Conversations about improving the app — i.e., feature requests— happen in this forum topic, where we can discuss the details of implementing changes. That’s also the right place to let us know if you’d like to work on the app (after checking out the contribution guidelines).

As I said at the top of this article, I’m really excited to finally have this preview available for WriteFreely users, and we’re looking forward to your feedback as get closer and closer to launching on the App Store!


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