iOS site update tools

WordPress is very capable out of the box, but anyone who runs a WordPress site is going to succumb to plugins, sooner or later.  There’re just too many, that do too much cool stuff, to stay vanilla for long.  And although you can set up WordPress to download, install, and update these for you at the click of a button, changing the settings necessary to make that tool work also makes your website less secure.  So one of the first things I needed to do from iOS was be able to update WordPress “the hard way.”

And because it’s basically the future, the hard way isn’t actually very hard.  I’m using Jetpack, the multitool plugin that allows you to use options previously available only to WordPress.com users on your homegrown WordPress site.

The first tool we’ll use came with you iOS device: use Safari to search for and navigate to the Jetpack plugin page. Click download.

The only other tool we need for this process is the editor Textastic, available on the App Store for iPad and iPhone.  Textastic has integrated sftp and zip functions, which allows us to get into the Jetpack plugin file and stick it where we want it.  When you click download to get the Jetpack zip file, iOS will ask you what to do with it, we want to Send it to Textastic.  When Textastic gets ahold of it, it will ask you if you want to unzip the archive, just tap “yes.”

At this point, we have access to the unpacked file directory in Textastic’s Files list.  Tap the Jetpack.X.X.X directory to reveal that it contains a directory named simply Jetpack.  It is this directory that we will move to the website.  Tap the World icon below the list to connect to your website.  Connect to your website using sftp and save the connection for ease of use, next time.  Tap the wp-content directory on you website to open it, and then tap the plugins directory to open it.  You should now have a two pane view, on the left the new Jetpack directory on your iOS device, on the right is the contents of the plugins directory on your website.  If you are updating Jetpack, there will be a jetpack directory in this right pane, this directory will not exist if you are installing the plugin for the first time.  Either way, tap the circle to the left of the jetpack directory in the left pane to select it, then tap the Upload button at the bottom of the left pane to send it to the website.  If you are updating, iOS will prompt you to confirm that you want to overwrite your old files.

Now, admittedly, the file transfer built into Textastic is not the speediest sftp implementation I’ve ever seen.  But the process is so simple, particularly if you have multiple sites you are updating (just a couple taps to go from one sftp connection to another in Textastic), that I tend to do it this way even if I’m at home with access to a full-on computer.

Textastic is not free… and it’s not 99 cents, either.  I think this is okay.  The developer has continued to make improvements and updates to his product, and the thing works well for what I need it to do.  And updating WordPress plugins is not even what the app was designed to do… it’s a very capable programmer’s text editor for iOS.  It’s worth the purchase for anyone serious about doing epublishing from the iOS platform.

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