Web content managers now have a wealth of mobile web cms functionality available through WebKit, a layout engine designed to allow web browsers to render web pages. WebKit takes the content of a web page, and lays it out according to how a web page’s source code specifies.
Content Management from the Ninth Hole
Imagine one fine Saturday you find yourself out on the links, excited to finally be playing the first eighteen holes of the season, followed up with a well-deserved pint at the 19th. You’re about to step up and unwind your three-wood on a par four when you feel that telltale vibration coming from your hip. Amongst groans and cries of "Foul!" from your fellow players, and despite the foursome behind you breathing down your neck, you grab your mobile and take the call.
It’s your boss. He’s in a panic. There’s been a personnel change at the executive level and the bio of an exec needs to come off the website NOW! He orders you to go in to the office and make it so. Thoughts of your great day going down in flames are fleeting, though. You can sink this one like that last three-foot putt on hole four. You calmly say, "Will do", hang up the call, turn your mobile on its side.
You flick to your browser, and log in to the company Web CMS. You find the offending article, change its status to "unpublished", and for good measure flush the server cache just to make sure it’s really gone. Mobile re-holstered, you confidently step up to the tee and promptly slice the ball into the woods. Come on, you’re not THAT cool…
Is this some wonderful future world? Are you scooting around the greens with your RoboCaddy Hovercart 9000, playing for Whuffie, and quaffing Romulan Ale at the 19th Hole? Not quite. The only Droid here is the one not so stylishly holstered to your belt clip.
We're Already a Mobile Generation
The iPhone, Droid, Blackberry, App Stores, 3G connectivity, and VPN support are commonplace mobile tools and services now, but where do they stand in terms of managing your web content from the road?
This past February, Automattic (news, site) released WordPress for Android, an application that’s been around on the iPhone for some time -- long enough to be in the version 2 release cycle. It’s now a handy road-warrior tool for Android gadgeteers.
WordPress Mobile provides the ability to create and edit blog posts and pages as well as manage comments on a WordPress blog. Being a Droid user, I eagerly installed the app, painlessly configured it to connect to my blog, and set off to create my first entry.
Creating a blog post was efficient, with data input fields for title, content, and tags. The application also offers basic markup for adding bold, italics, and links to the entry. However, highlighting text on the Droid requires using the slide-out keyboard and D-Pad.. Including images in a blog post is as simple as clicking a button and choosing one from the phone’s photo gallery.
Category selection is provided through a drop-down list -- and that's where I encountered the first glitch. Realizing that I wanted to add a "Tech" category to my blog, I found that I couldn’t add new categories from the app. You can only do that from the web-based WordPress interface itself.
While not exactly an "Aha!" moment, somewhere closer to, "Well, duh," I tried using the Android web browser to log in to the admin interface of my site. Sure enough, the pages rendered and functioned nearly perfectly -- more than well enough to add the new category to the blog. I popped back over to the WordPress app, clicked the refresh button and the new category was now available.
But Mobile Browsing Not Yet There
Would I recommend you use the browser-based mobile interface to author your blog posts? Probably not.
The WordPress app is neat and efficient and it easily wins over for day-to-day blogging tasks. Plus, in browser mode, there are a few user interface (UI) quirks as well as the fact that the device disables image uploading.
But the experience got me wondering how the mobile browser would work for other web-based content management systems, so I then decided to navigate over to a Drupal-based site that I manage. The site uses the Drupal Admin Module that provides a clean and intuitive content management interface. Sure enough, the content creation and administrative functionality was nearly flawless. The only issue I encountered was, again, file upload capability is disabled.
But is it the mobile content management future yet? With the hot-potato topic of Flash support, and sketchy Java support, it’s not quite 100 percent. But with dedicated applications like mobile WordPress, and capable mobile browsers and devices, the ability to post from the road, and take care of the occasional quick-and-dirty task, that time is here.
[Editor's Note: See related article: 7 Ways to Blog Using Your Mobile Phone.]